One Year Anniversary
In the summer of 2020, some citizens in our community were very concerned about the extent of homelessness in Port Townsend; they didn’t want to see people left out in the cold when winter arrived. “We just mobilized and decided to build some structures." Jesse Thomas, Community Build Project Co-Founder said at the time. He also prophesized that building the shelters would get the community inspired and motivated and be one step closer to having a permanent village.
Peter Bonyun was one of those concerned citizens. Peter got involved because he saw a need and had the time and the interest. He jumped in with both feet and never looked back. Peter became so involved with the project that he would eventually serve as the first project manager of the shelter village. As a consequence, the village was officially christened Peter's Place, in honor of his commitment and extraordinary work to help make the village successful.
Peter’s enthusiasm spread to his cousin, Judy Alexander, who signed on to be Volunteer Coordinator. Judy had experience bringing groups together and said “I might be able to apply some skills to that sort of role," which, needless to say, was a huge understatement at the time.
Peter’s Place, a dedicated living community for the unsheltered in Jefferson County, was completed in December, 2020, on land donated by the Community Methodist Church in Port Hadlock. Its success is a testament to the vision and commitment of Jesse, Peter and Judy, as well as the generosity and hard work of many volunteers and donors.
When asked if the success has been surprising to them Peter said, “Maybe a little; I had no expectations, no goal other than to build tiny shelters. I am pleased with what we all have done.”
Judy responded, “I have been quite pleased and surprised at how engaging this project has been. It has really captured my heart. I’ve been pleased to meet so many new, big-hearted people, to make new friends, to step out of a sense of COVID-isolation with something really worthwhile to do; there has been much to be grateful for about being involved. What surprised me most, perhaps, was that “Community Build” had as much to do with an increased sense of social purpose as it did with building tiny shelters for people who really needed the housing.”
“This was meant to be a one-time project experiment. It was never meant to go beyond that.” says Jesse. He noted that this one-time experiment has turned into a community-engaged project that is helping people who do not have secure housing. “I am really pleased with how it has developed. The effectiveness is remarkable considering CBP is an all volunteer organization.”
Jesse, Peter and Judy were asked about the future of the Community Build Project. Peter sees continued growth and change. Judy says, “I see morale building in our future, more people joining us in our projects, and perhaps developing greater efficiencies in our process as we further hone our teamwork efforts.” Jesse said simply, “More community engagement."
Judy seems to capture best the feeling of the whole CBP team when she says, “I feel very grateful for the challenge and opportunity to be a part of this project with others. I love to see how it cultivates and deepens our shared compassion for those who do not have secure housing. It feels great to be collectively creating some solutions!”