Construction instructors lend a hand to tiny house project serving homeless veterans

Many hands are needed to build the envisioned tiny house village for homeless veterans in Brunswick.

A group of skilled carpenters volunteered their talents and time last week to the Golden Isles Veteran Village Initiative, which is making gains toward its goal of creating a 30-home village that will include a community center and wrap-around services for residents.

During the annual Camp T&I event at the Golden Isles College and Career Academy, which brings career education instructors from around the state to the school each summer for professional learning, a group of construction pathway teachers built cabinets for the first six tiny homes in the village.

“I thought, well we’ve got 40-something construction teachers from around the state of Georgia coming down here the first week of June. What can we do?” said Jeff Holland, construction pathway instructor at GICCA, who led the cabinet construction effort.

The first tiny homes were delivered May 24 to the one-acre village site on G Street. The village will be a transitional community where veterans can reside and receive counseling, job training, and physical and mental health support.

Residents in the village will be able to receive training in cooking, housekeeping, technology and more. They’ll also have a chance to enroll in the Nine Line Foundation Aquaponics training program and other job placement services.

Each home will feature a combination living room and bedroom, a small kitchen and a bathroom. The community center will offer a laundry area, office space and counseling rooms.

Staff members at GICCA have been in discussion for months with leaders of the Golden Isles Veterans Village Initiative in hopes of collaborating and lending support to the project.

Holland said he hopes his students in the construction pathway class next year will be able to contribute to building the tiny homes.

“It’s a great hands-on project for my class, the carpentry/construction class,” he said. “That’s a real world, hands-on experience that not only do they get to learn technical skills but they get to give back to the community at the same time.”

The Georgia Department of Education has hosted Camp T&I — or Camp Trade & Industry — at GICCA for many years, bringing CTAE instructors from around Georgia to the career academy for professional learning with industry experts.

The three-day event, which took place June 2-5, also offers a networking and collaborative opportunity for instructors working alone.

“You’re the lone ranger,” Holland said. “I’m the only guy in Glynn County that teaches what I teach. There’s nobody else in the county that does this, and it’s the same for all the other programs out here. There’s one of us.”

The state education department funds the Camp T&I program. Monetary support for the cabinet project also came from the Construction Education Foundation of Georgia and the Associated General Contractors of America, Holland said.

Camp T&I also brought instructors in pathways like audio/visual technology, graphic arts, machining and auto mechanics to GICCA last week. In total, around 150 teachers participated, including GICCA instructors.

“Everyone’s glad to be back,” said Patrick Mahaffey, a construction instructor from Gwinnett County. “We missed the camaraderie.”

The event created an ideal opportunity for the skilled group of construction teachers to support a great local cause, Holland said.

“Anything we can do for (the initiative), it’s one less thing they have to devote their limited funds to,” he said.

The plan is to have at least five houses in the village open by the end of July.

The project is also seeking financial support. Those wishing to donate or learn more can do so at Source: Lauren McDonald/The Brunswick News