St. Augustine of Canterbury Children's Chapel raised money for charities for years, but in 2018 the kids asked to work towards a specific goal. They had something pretty BIG in mind: building a tiny house for a neighbor in need!
For a number of years, St. Augustine of Canterbury (St. A’s) Children’s Chapel has raised money for charitable giving at the end of the year. Most often, the kids donated small gifts of $50-75 to a few worthy organizations. In January of 2018 the kids asked to do more. And they had something pretty BIG in mind, building a tiny house for a neighbor in need. They partnered with other faith-based organizations.
Andrews University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Renaissance Kids Summer Architecture Camps (Ren Kids), Interfaith Action, and Harbor Habitat for Humanity (HHFH) all worked to make this vision a reality. A fundraising goal of $33,000 was set, and the kids and the parish got to work. By May of 2019, funds exceeded the goal and the total stood at more than $36,000, with a grant from the Berrien Community Foundation. Tiny House also received grants from the Central Indiana Community Foundation and the Bishop Whittemore Foundation as well as many private gifts, large and small. Building was set to begin in January of 2020, but in March 2020 COVID stopped the world. The cost of lumber skyrocketed. Volunteer labor from students vanished. Through all this, funds kept coming from donors, and volunteer workers kept on. On December 11, 2021 Tiny House was blessed and given to Harbor Habitat for Humanity as a starter home. Tiny House #2 is currently raising funds. Go to our donate button at the bottom of the page to join in this second home.
Mission, Vision, and Guiding Principles:
Our vision began with the idea that we could make a significant difference for one family by providing lower income rental opportunity. We also hoped that this approach could be replicated in our community and in others across Michigan and the U.S. Our vision evolved over time. Our emerging vision has moved from creating one Tiny House to creating a community of Tiny Houses, providing a sense of community and support. We believe that this model and partnership with Harbor Habitat for Humanity will be successful and provide a roadmap for other communities across Michigan and the U.S.
“Tiny Houses for Big Change is a collaborative community action project founded to build transitional housing for some of the most vulnerable members of our community."
“Tiny Houses for Big Change will become a replicable model for transitional housing in Southwest Michigan, and a template for small organizations who want to make big changes in their communities through collaborative programing.”
Goals & Principles
Our goals and approach have broadened to include building a community of transitional housing that can be supported with effective partnerships across the community.
Our approach and guiding principles remain centered in the teachings of Christ: place, assistance, community, and future.
Partnership & Operational model:
St. Augustine of Canterbury (St. A’s) has developed successful partnerships with the following faith-based organizations:
Andrews University’s Graduate School of Architecture – “Seek Knowledge. Affirm Faith. Change the World”. This group partnered in design and build functions to support Tiny House.
Renaissance Kids Summer Architecture Camps – Supported through Andrews University. These kids partnered in overall support by raising funds and awareness, including an auction with $8,300 in proceeds designated for the next Tiny House.
Interfaith Action – “SW Michigan Peace & Justice Collaborative" is an advocacy voice in SW Michigan. It is a coalition of various faith communities who understand that we are stronger when we act together”. This group partnered in broad reaching fundraising to support Tiny House.
Harbor Habitat for Humanity – “ is a Christian, non-profit housing ministry that seeks to eliminate inadequate housing in Benton Harbor and Benton Charter Township by engaging the community and partnering with families to provide them with a safe, decent, and affordable place to live.” This group partnered in an operational role and donated lots to support Tiny House community. They now own Tiny House.
Now that Tiny House is built and operational, the parish of St. A’s will continue in partnership with HHFH, while fundraising for Tiny House #2. By design, Tiny House was envisioned to support a small family with a small but sustainable income, using the current minimum wage index. The rent from the house would be used to support maintenance, taxes, and operational management expenses, with a small portion going towards the building of the next Tiny House.
If you’re interested in helping out, collaborating, or donating to the Tiny House Fund, please visit us, call the church office, or send an email. We welcome you!
All of these organizations and many others continue to support our vision for Tiny House. As the vision for Tiny House began to include operational considerations, the Vestry and Congregation of St. A’s led us to seek an operational partner. Our initial partnership with Harbor Habitat for Humanity began with their donation of two lots and the idea of creating a Tiny House community. HHFH has extensive experience in the operational portion of this initiative and we welcomed their partnership and expertise. We both align at the core of our missions in following Jesus Christ.