A local nonprofit created to provide construction training and tiny homes for houseless Portlanders is handcrafting and selling picnic tables. Families and restaurants could buy the tables to expand outdoor dining options and support the nonprofit to continue this work.
Cascadia Clusters, founded by Andy Olshin, trains houseless individuals in framing, roofing, insulating and finish carpentry. Trainees are paid a daily stipend and receive housing while building tiny homes for other houseless people. Andy developed his concept in 2016 while displaying two tiny homes, which he called “safe sleep shelter pods,” in the parking lot of Congregation Beth Israel, where he is a long-time member.
Purchasing a Table of Conscience provides job training, compensation and housing for people transitioning out of homelessness. Thanks to your generosity, Cascadia Clusters is able to provide stability in times of uncertainty. The tables are made by Cascadia Clusters trainees in three sizes: 3-foot tables are $200; 5-foot tables are $300; and 6-foot tables are $350. Delivery (1 to 3 business days after order) is available for $50.
“Making picnic tables is not a complex skill, but it's another part of the carpentry skills we are teaching,” says Cascadia Clusters Treasurer John Sheldon, a member of Congregation Neveh Shalom.
Currently four trainees are building the picnic tables, tiny homes and shower/hygiene pods for the houseless community during the COVID crisis. The City of Portland leased one of the hygiene pods for a pop- up village and has requested a second pod.
“There are hundreds of homeless people on the streets living in tents,” says John. “The hygiene pods help people feel better emotionally and healthwise. The pods have showers, sinks and two washer/dryer sets.”
Construction training is a key component of Cascadia Clusters, says John. Fifteen trainees from the houseless community have participated in the training over the past two and a half years. “Some have found jobs locally in construction and some became self-sufficient and found jobs in other fields because they felt more confident about their abilities in the general market.”
Of the picnic table fundraiser, John says, “Andy looks at is as one table pays about a day’s wages for one of the trainees.”
The flyer promoting the tables reads: “Your family, customers and community will enjoy a safer dining experience and you will benefit from maximizing restaurant seating with hand-crafted beautifully reclaimed wood. Your purchase supports Cascadia Clusters’ houseless trainees by providing them with the dignity to live in villages and gain a marketable skill. Your support also helps us provide service-learning opportunities for youth in our summer workshop series.
To order, contact Brooke Every at 608-219-3539 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, visit: cascadiaclusters.org.