St. Augustine of Canterbury Children's Chapel has raised money for charities for years, but last year the kids asked to work towards a specific goal instead. 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, we donate small gifts of $50-75 to a handful of worthy organizations. In January of 2018, the kids asked to work towards a specific goal from the start. And they had something pretty big in mind, building a tiny house for a neighbor in need. We have partnered with organizations that are faith-based with a mission to positively the communities we serve.
Andrews University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Renaissance Kids Summer Architecture Camps (Ren Kids), Interfaith Action, and Harbor Habitat for Humanity (HHFH) 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, we exceeded our goal and the total stood at more than $36,000 after a grant from the Berrien Community Foundation was awarded. We have also received grants from the Central Indiana Community Foundation and the Bishop Whittemore Foundation as well as many private gifts both large and small. Building is set to begin in January of 2020. The fundraising and contributions have continued to be strong including a recent Renaissance Kids’ auction, enabling us to prepare for subsequent Tiny House projects.
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, approach and goals began to evolve as fundraising exceeded our expectations, the growing needs in the community, and our response based in the teachings of Christ. 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 if not 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 partners in design and build functions to support Tiny House.
Renaissance Kids Summer Architecture Camps – Supported through Andrews University. These kids partner in overall support by raising funds and awareness, including a recent 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 partners 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 partners in operational role and donating lots to support Tiny House community.
As the Tiny House is built and operational, the parish of St. A’s would continue to be an active partner, however, we would also focus on fundraising and building the Tiny House community. By design, Tiny House was envisioned to support a small lower income family with sustainable income using the current minimum wage index. The rent from the house would be used to support maintenance, taxes, operational management expenses with a small portion retained for the build 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 the Tiny House began to include operational considerations, the Vestry and Congregation of St. A’s lead us to seek an operational partner. Our initial partnership with Harbor Habitat for Humanity began with the donation of the lots and the discussions of creating a Tiny House community. HHFH has extensive experience in the operational portion of this initiative and we welcome the partnership and expertise. We both align at the core of our missions in following in action by the teachings of Christ. We believe in community and the extension of our parish through outreach of those that may be underserved or marginalized.