September 11th took on a new meaning for YouthBuild students across the State. The Massachusetts YouthBuild Coalition was fortunate to be one of five organizations chosen nationally as a recipient of a September 11th Remembrance Grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service. The focus of these grants was on families of victims from that day, survivors, or military veterans and their families. We decided to put our construction talents to good use and do something to help solve the problem of homelessness among veterans.
The idea of Tiny Homes seemed to be a natural solution for the problem. Once a design was decided, it was time to get to work. Fall River and Springfield were chosen as the sites that would undertake the construction of our first two Tiny Homes. Each of these units will be 204 square feet and have all of the amenities of a regular home, just smaller. They are built on trailers, so that they will be mobile enough to be able to locate them where there is a need. We also will place them in a location that offers other services that a veteran who is temporarily down on their luck, could utilize to get back on a productive path. This project has received a great reception from everyone who hears about it and this may be a very practical solution to a complex societal problem.
On September 11th, walls were raised in both Springfield and Fall River. In Springfield, the students quickly framed the four walls and proudly raised them completing the basic structure for the Tiny Home. Jaritza Del Toro a member of the Springfield YWCA YouthBuild team, introduced her uncle Hector Arizmendi, a retired New York City Police Officer, who was at Ground Zero on September 11th. He shared his experiences and was very thankful that his niece was involve in this project of Remembrance.
Meanwhile, in Fall River, the crew got busy first thing in the morning. The crew of staff and students made quick work of the outside walls and worked like a well-oiled machine. After an earlier ceremony at Battleship Cove, the entire state legislative delegation arrived along with Mayor Sam Sutter. Senator Michael Rodrigues and Representatives Carole Fiola, Paul Schmid and Alan Silvia were quick with the questions about the project and they all were excited about this idea as a solution to an ongoing problem. Representative Fiola even met up with one of the volunteers who was a former classmate when they were children. It is very heartening to receive such strong support for YouthBuild students and the work that they are doing.