On May 14th my Engineering class and I took a field trip to Community First. Before we embarked on this great journey, we didn’t really know where we were going (or at least half of us didn’t). All I knew was we where visiting a trailer park that housed the formerly homeless. How this field trip related to Project VENTURA? Well, all we knew was the trailers were all restored. With little information of what we would see or what this organization Community First even did, the trip sounded a bit daunting. Can you imagine setting foot of a bus to this plot of land that reminds you of a summer camp, and wondering where all the formerly homeless are? Maybe they’re at the mess hall?
Obviously, if you know anything about Community First, you can tell I really didn’t know what was going on, but then we met Allen Gram. Allen Gram is the visionary and creator of this project, known as Community First, a branch of Mobile Loaves and Fishes: Miracles on Wheels Organization. This Community First’s program’s vision is to take the chronically homeless up off of the streets, by providing them with sustainable (and affordable) housing located in a hospitable 27 acres community, with others who have been chronically homeless. Sounds good, right? Well it got better. Not only is his vision supporting people economically and financially, but emotionally and psychologically, something that programs like these tend to forget about. Mr. Gram reminded us that only are these people suffering from financial problems, but more than likely are suffering economically, because of catastrophic family loss, that is why the term “chronically homeless” is used. The goal of Community First is not only to help the chronically homeless economically, but emotionally as well, by creating a community where you are, in most basic terms, retaught to feel affection. Can you imagine, taking someone from rough places in town where all they see day to day is violence, hate or poverty into a hospitable environment that is gentle? Well it may seem like a crazy idea that might not work, but guess what? It has been working.
Of course it kept getting better….yes, Ms.Jo that means the trailers (and the kitties). When Mr. Gram first told me the prices of housing, in my mind I thought, “Okay they must be decent and pretty basic.” To rent for a tent is $90 monthly or $3 a day, for a micro house its $6.50 a day, an RV is $200 a month, and for a parked home $375 a year. I have never been more wrong in my life though! My first thought when I walked into the RV was “Wow this is nicer than my two story apartment”. This was only the RV! All these homes were not only sustainable, but were tastefully furnished and were (at least to me) like mini mansions. As I entered and walked through all the homes, I couldn’t help, but become even more thrilled at the idea of Community First. I honestly considered the idea of wanting to be homeless to be allowed to live in one of these homes. I can’t begin to imagine what an actual homeless person would feel given the opportunity to live in one of these sustainable homes. If I wasn’t convinced about Community First already, I definitely was then.
I thought I had been done with restoring trailers, but then I saw the work these people where doing. They where taking Project VENTURA in a different direction and to a whole new level. I thought at first that restoring trailers, was only for vintage loving fanatics, but then I realized it could have a whole nother meaning. Who would have thought, restored trailers could make sustainable homes, that were better than mine, for the homeless? Definitely not me, but Community First did and I hope they continue in their work, even if I get slightly jealous the homeless will now have better homes than me.
If you want to learn more about Community First please visit their website at: