The first of a small village of tiny homes has welcomed a local family in need of temporary emergency shelter on Community Shelter Services property. Thanks to a generous donation from the Kiwanis Club of Erie, the project was started in late 2022 and with the hard work of the CSS Maintenance team, Wm. T. Spaeder Company, the City of Erie and other volunteers it is now ready to welcome its first family of four. Additional units will be on-site in the coming months thanks to a grant from Erie Insurance and proceeds of the CSS 50th Anniversary Celebration at the end of April.
The goal of the Columbus Family Village is to provide family style temporary emergency housing units where nuclear families can remain together while utilizing the services provided by CSS in the Emergency Shelter. These families will have access to facilities for meals as well as caseworker services and all normal programming at the shelter. Units contain a small bathroom as well as room for two bunk beds and a desk or table. The family inhabiting the first of these homes had previously been separated into two local agencies to provide shelter, the father at one shelter and the mother and children taken in at another.
At a ribbon cutting on Tuesday, April 18th, Cathy Szymanski, CSS Board Member and Secretary of the Kiwanis Club of Erie explained, “Kiwanis is all about working with kids and when we recognize that kids aren’t able to spend the night with mom and dad and just spend quality time with mom and dad, we knew we needed to come up with a solution. So Diane and I were brainstorming one day, and here you have it.”
Szymanski said after months of hard work and planning, there’s nothing like seeing a family enjoy their new space. As Szymanski said, “It’s hard not to cry with happiness and joy. I just. Can you imagine what must be going on in their minds and their kids? And, you know, I just can’t help but think, what are they going to be doing tonight? They have their beds, they’re going to be reading and the laughter. So, yeah, it’s a great day.”