In fall of 2020, in the initial days of forming of the Community Build project, Jesse Thomas, the project instigator, asked me if I would be the “Community Engagement” member on the leadership team. I replied with an EASY yes, without really knowing what that would entail. I found out soon enough that it was super fun doing what our community required, perhaps most of all: joining together to build emergency housing for the unsheltered while cultivating compassion for those with greatest need. My lifetime career as a clinical social worker and social activist, both of which gave me ample experience in facilitating groups, as well as my having lived in Jefferson County since 1979, allowed me to bring my skills to the forefront to motivate and engage lots of folks from our community as volunteers. We proceeded in creating enough tiny shelters to populate two villages, one out in the County, and one within the City limits. We are building essential, secure emergency housing, while also growing our caring community hearts, for those of us who need both, most. I am grateful to be of service in this way.
Michael is a retired Professor of Industrial Biotechnology and a life-long woodworker, furniture designer/builder and house carpenter. He loves to design, build, and teach young adults carpentry skills! During part of his 33 year professional career, he taught biopharmacutical professionals and architects how to design facilites that meet US FDA regulations for the efficient manufacture of drugs and biologics using biotechnology. He has volunteered as a finish carpenter for Habitat for Humanity across the USA (Midwest, Mid Atlantic States), as well as other housing rennovation organizations such as the Appalachian Service Project (ASP). Michael is passionate about volunteering his time to design and help build small modular affordable housing for Jefferson County, particularly for young adults with families, and seniors.
Annalee McConnell began painting shelters for Pat’s Place a few months after moving to the “big city” of Port Townsend from a remote bay in SE Alaska where she honed her painting skills converting historic cannery buildings into her home for six months a year. Moving to PT during the pandemic could have been tough but she says “Volunteering outdoors with wonderful people was a great way to make new friends.” Bringing some of her “Jill of all trades” experience out of retirement to help with a variety of Community Build activities, she soon found herself part of the Leadership Team. Although not usually into salmon fishing, she’s ridiculously proud of landing this 60 pound king right out front of her former Alaska home.
Dave Merrill volunteered to work with Community Build with Peter’s Place in the fall of 2020. He is a retired framing contractor and home builder. He has always loved teaching and building. He finds building homes for people who cannot afford housing very rewarding, and the best use of his skills. Aside from work, he loves hiking in the mountains.
It started with Peter’s Place. I watched as my husband spent time making a documentary on Peter’s Place, attended the Blessing Ceremony and was inspired by all the work and LOVE that went into the project. The “kicker” was watching the film “Community First: A Home for the Homeless”. This film inspired me to do more than talk and complain about the housing issues but to step up and get involved. I signed up to volunteer for Pat’s Place. Since then, I’ve graduated to Volunteer Coordinator and am now on the Community Build Leadership Team – a true community of dedicated volunteers. I am pleased to be a part of Community Build and love seeing the houses go up and the people living in community. Join us!
Soozie Nichol – Purchasing
Randy Welle – Construction Lead
In Memory of Todd Armstrong
Todd, one of our first team leaders, died of pancreatic cancer in December 2022. He was a retired general contractor from Seattle who happened to find out about Community Build when he moved to the area. He showed up on Day 1 with tools and inspiration for what we were doing. Todd managed the site preparation for our first two villages and remained involved even after getting his diagnosis. In July 2022, we surprised Todd by dedicating the Pat’s Place kitchen/commons building to him.