Students at Cowichan Valley Open Learning (CVOLC) are helping make tables for community gathering at ‘The Village’, Cowichan Housing Association’s newest purpose-built community of sleeping units. (Contributed by Mike Russell)

Students at Cowichan Valley Open Learning (CVOLC) are helping make tables for community gathering at ‘The Village’, Cowichan Housing Association’s newest purpose-built community of sleeping units. (Contributed by Mike Russell)

Students construct gathering spaces for The Village sleeping cabin site in Duncan

CVOLC students make picnic tables for Trunk Road community

Students from Cowichan Valley Open Learning’s Skills and Trades Exploration Class have used their in-class learning to make a difference in the lives of those experiencing homelessness.

The CVOLC Skills and Trades Exploration Class class samples three trades: electrical, plumbing, and carpentry, and enables pupils to learn basic skills in the trio of trades as part of their career path exploration.

This semester, during the class’s carpentry stream, the CVOLC students partnered with the Cowichan Housing Association to construct seven picnic tables that will help to form the gathering place at ‘The Village’, a new cabin site that will have 34 sleeping cabins and wrap-around services at 610 Trunk Rd. when the site finally opens, which is expected in mid-March after BC Hydro hooks the site up with power.

“This carpentry component has seen them play a vital community role as a partner with the Cowichan Housing Association,” explained school district spokesperson Mike Russell. “Each student has had a chance to measure, cut, drill and build some of each of the seven picnic tables that will form the gathering place at The Village. Playing a part in creating community while learning skills that will serve students well in their futures is a huge accomplishment.”

SEE RELATED: 2 cabin sites for homeless in Duncan to shut down at end of March

Cowichan Valley School District board chair Candace Spilsbury is proud of the work of CVOLC’s student builders.

“It is wonderful for our students to learn essential skills like plumbing, electrical, and carpentry,” Spilsbury said. “To have them apply these skills to the benefit of those who are experiencing homelessness is amazing to see.”

The closing of the sleeping sites on St. Julien Street and The Mound on Government Street is a significant loss of essential community resources and prompted the hunt for a new location. Most if not all of the residents of the two closing sites will move to The Village.

“There are so many factors that contribute to people becoming homeless. Cowichan Housing Association and our many community partners work hard to ensure that there is housing and support for all those in need,” said Shelley Cook, executive director of the Cowichan Housing Association. “We are grateful to the students at Cowichan Valley Open Learning for working with us by making picnic tables for the people who will soon be housed at The Village on Trunk Road. Little touches like these make all the difference in people feeling a sense of belonging and community.”



sarah.simpson@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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