our town st helena learning to use a power sawConstruction began on July 13. For the next 18 months, our eight families and their teams will be working every Friday and Saturday at Brenkle Court. A few of our homeowners are single moms. One mother will be joined by her sons every weekend; another mother is relying on her two older brothers to complete her team. All of these families have lived in St. Helena for more than ten years and are grateful for the opportunity to be homeowners.

The families spent the first few work days clearing weeds, cutting down shrubs and getting the land ready for a concrete subcontractor to form and pour the two slabs needed for the townhomes. They also got a lesson in using a power saw and built the shelves where they will store their tools.

Larry Vermeulen is the Brenkle Court project manager

It’s Larry’s job to turn a group of 30+ people with no construction experience into his crew. Iour town st helena: we built shelves to store our tools
preparation, he’s worked with them over the last few months, training them on basic construction skills: how to measure, mark, cut and assemble, how to read a tape measure. There have been videos, lectures and tool-safety talks, especially on the use of power tools. “To practice our skills we built sawhorses in the parking lot at Grace Episcopal Church in December,” Vermeulen said.

Our goal: Getting all of the families working together

“This is also about teambuilding. We’re not just building homes, we’re building community. We need to work together, to trust each other. Everyone moves in at the same time.”

Families will have to put in 35 hours/week, which is difficult for a family of two on just the weekends, “so we’ve impressed on them that they need to twist the arms of their relatives and friends,” Vermeulen said. “They can bring volunteers that count against that 35 hours. We’ll keep track of it, to keep this equitable.”

ourtownsthelena building shelves for Brenkle CourtGet involved in the Brenkle Court Townhome Project

  • We’re using an app called SignUp. Click on this link and you can sign up for a full day or half-day segments any Saturday or Sunday, https://signup.com/go/UeZmYwr
  • We also need tools. If you’re moving, downsizing, or have tools you no longer use, think about donating them to Our Town St. Helena. Our website has a wishlist where we’ve identified tools that we need.
  • Buy local. You can either contribute to these or purchase them. We encourage purchasing tools locally. Steve’s is providing a 10% discount.
  • We’d love a donation. Our website makes it easy to give.

Community updates

  • Stay in touch. We’ll be updating this page over the next months as the project progresses.
  • We’re keeping the McCorkle neighborhood updated as well. We send emails every few weeks let them know what to expect in terms of traffic and noise.
  • Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
  • Questions about tools or volunteering? Contact Larry: 707.287.0843, projectmanager@ourtownsthelena.org