At a NE Portland house worksite, the Portland Timbers in partnership with D.R. Horton and MLS W.O.R.K.S.donated $20,000 yesterday to Portland YouthBuilders—an area non-profit that helps at-risk teens graduate and readies them for the working world.
Fresh from the morning’s training session, Timbers players Rodrigo Lopez, Freddie Braun, Steve Purdy and Peter Lowry, donned tool belts and hammered in nails alongside a group of Portland YouthBuilders staff and students.
Portland YouthBuilders educates low income youth age 17 to 24 in both traditional construction as well as in modern multimedia.
Yesterday it was all hard hat chic as students and Timbers players raised a wall on a new home at the corner of NE Morgan St and 6th Ave.
Midfielder Rodrigo Lopez said, “It’s very heartwarming to be able to come out here and help build a house for people who need it.”
“RoRo” (as the nametag on his hard hat had it) admitted he had never built a house before.
“But I’m pretty good at it. My nailing skills are pretty good. No nail gun. My hammer and my bare hands,” he joked.
Portland YouthBuilders and Habitat for Humanity are building a duplex for two families who could not otherwise afford their own home. Fourteen Portland YouthBuilders students and three construction trainers worked to raise the walls of the building. Defender Purdy’s height proved particularly valuable as the group lifted the wooden structure in unison and held it vertical while it was braced. The duplex will have a four bedroom and a three bedroom home and takes about eight months to build.
The energy-efficient homes have eight inch-thick walls (a code wall is 5 and a half inches), blown-in insulation and gaps between studs to create thermal barriers.
Timbers COO Mike Golub, Timbers mascot Timber Joey, Timbers front office staff and MLS W.O.R.K.S. staff were also there in force.
Dale Allen is a coordinator for PYB and trains youth on site.
“They certainly learn a lot from this,” said Allen. “They get an introduction to building. We don’t turn out professional carpenters, but we do turn out young people who know how to show up from work every day on time, with a good attitude, and who have a basic sense of the tools and how to get a house put together.”
The students study for their GED at the PYB school in the Lents neighborhood and also get work experience. “Typically they come from pretty troubled backgrounds, and many of them say that Portland YouthBuilders is their last chance,” said Allen. “They get the kind of attention they never got in school and they begin to make plans for their future and to see a possibility for their lives.”
The students meet at 8 a.m. in Lents and are transported to site in converted TriMet buses. After a safety meeting and some stretching they work until 2pm, which Allen says is “Enough to build in that discipline piece.”
“We have direct entry relationships with union apprenticeship programs,” said Jill Walters Executive Directorof PYB. “They’re coveted, they’re wanted for their hands on experience, for what they’ve learned in the classroom, and they they’ve learned what it is to work, how to show up for work every day.”
Student Jorge Ceja said, “It’s exciting to learn new things every day, you get the chance to learn. Every little machine you get a chance on it. Nailing, cutting, measuring . . . all of it.”
His colleague Jeremiah Grey has been working on the house for three months. He has only done finish work before.
“I love doing construction,” said Grey who has seen the Timbers play once. “They didn’t win, but it was still fun though.”
Timbers COO Mike Golub said it was a good example of the club and its chosen non-profits working together in the community. “Today is a way to bring our team out and give back and help a few families move into a new home. For good things to happen it requires a team effort.”
Lopez, who played 23 times for the Timbers in the USL last season, reflected contentedly on the Timbers season so far.
“The season’s going well for an expansion team. We’re still in the running for the playoffs and I think we’re a couple of wins away from it,” he said.