“I just got hired full time! If it wasn’t for you, I never would have had this opportunity. Thank you.”
-Willie P., age 24, Sacramento
In November 2015, KAVANAH’s President, Jim Quaschnick, Jr., woke with a vision. He began to sketch-out a small house, something that could be used to shelter a homeless Veteran. Every detail had intention and purpose, every square inch accounted for. But something was missing… the inside. Every angle, every measurement, every exterior detail was drawn, but the inside – that was for a later time.
The following month, Michael Estes was at a meeting, touring the campus of Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento, CA. As Principal Peterson stopped near the Building Trades Academy class where the students were building garden sheds, Michael remembered back to a few months earlier when he was Divinely given a word; youth build.
We were trying to figure out a way for youth to gain interest in the construction trades. What if a tiny house became the platform?
KAVANAH arranged to have the building materials delivered to the school, and by February 2016, the students of Luther Burbank started construction on the first Kavanah Tiny House. After seeing the walls go up, the reality of building a solution to homelessness excited the students. They began coming up with creative ideas for the potential resident. The students suggested having the bed sit high, to create a storage area underneath. The students asked to leave an open space near the window, so the resident could sit at a desk and look outside. Jim understood why he struggled drawing the inside; it wasn’t for him to design – it was an opportunity for the first group of students to take ownership.
When the school year ended, the students had nearly completed their project. The team at KAVANAH had the tiny house transported to a location where it could be painted, and the flooring and finishes could be installed. By August of 2016, the very first Kavanah Tiny House was transported to a church property, and the first resident moved in. Shawn was a Navy Veteran, who had been living in a tent near a creek in North Sacramento. Shawn was a valued member of his church, and volunteered much of his time there. When the church was presented with an opportunity to help Shawn, they answered with a resounding “ABSOLUTELY!”
In the nine months Shawn lived in the Tiny House on his church property, he was able to find full time work, open a bank account, throw away his EBT card, obtain his driver license, and purchase a van! Shawn has transitioned out of the Tiny House, and is now living with other Veterans in a Kavanah Destination House.
“It’s about changing a life, not the landscape. This is truly a blessing for anyone involved.”
-Shawn B., Sacramento, CA
Each tiny house is an opportunity for the youth to learn a valuable and employable trade skill. On a practical level, students are learning how to frame, build a raised foundation, roof, install windows and doors, insulate, solar technology, hang drywall, texture, etc.. Eight schools have partnered with KAVANAH to build a tiny house, with more than 30 schools on the wait list. Nearly each of the youth who has participated in building a Kavanah Tiny House has been offered a paid summer internship or full time employment by our partners in the Building Industry.
The materials needed to build one tiny house is about $5,700. The value the tiny house brings to the students, the Veteran, and our community, well that’s priceless. It is what we call a “Circle of Service” – Community restoration by introducing students to the benefits of living a life of service, inspiring the recipient to return the favor.