Each year, the RLC offers the opportunity to apply for small business or individual project grants. These small pockets of funds are called ‘Career Initiatives’ grants. After the grants have been awarded for the year, we do our best to share highlights with the community. Charlie Knight is one of ten recipients of this most recent grant award.
“For some, it is the way two pieces of wood are cut so they join to make a stronger and longer span – it is called a “scarf joint”. For others, it is a piece of clothing that is used to protect the skin from the outdoor elements. For still others, it is a colloquial saying, meaning to get something quickly. But, for us, it means a focus on Saving the Culture of a time passed, while we are Actively bent on Reclaiming the Futures of people who have experienced trauma. We plan on doing this by obtaining and rehab-ing abandoned & neglected houses with the sweat equity of those that will live in them and the support of community.
Without a home you can call your own, most of us are like a ship without an anchor. We move about tossed and turned by the waves and storms of life; each jostle loosening a little more of our self esteem, self worth, and the desire to not only continue on, but to make a difference in this life. We want to work. We want to be participants in the communities that we are now living in, but without that solid base of a home, it is a dream that’s almost impossible to achieve. The cost of a new house is “through the roof”, and yet new houses often will not give us the “link” to a past that can be built upon. There is a sense of permanence and pride that rehab-ing an older building will provide. These moderate rehab skills needed are easily taught, and most people would willingly learn a few of these skills and work daily on making a formerly abandoned or neglected house into their own custom-made home.
To read this article in its entirety, and learn how you can get involved, click on “read more” below
SCARF founder, Charlie Knight, became homeless due to forces pretty much beyond his own actions. He came down to Springfield, MA in 1994 after his father had died and it was deemed he could not live any more in the family home until a trust was dissolved and legal papers signed. Those papers took many years instead of months to get “drafted” and in that time, he took many courses in printing, art, architecture, civil engineering, as well as landscape design/maintenance and web design/programming. He also became actively involved in a number of groups attempting to end homelessness as we knew it in 2002.
By the fall of 2013, he decided he wanted to obtain a house and have rental units in it so he could have a place to live and practice the design skills he had learned, while also providing for people that needed a place to rent. He saw many a building in the open-house viewings prior to the city’s tax-auction procedure and often did a lot of research on these buildings. By the summer of 2014, he saw a place he wanted try and bid on.
That building he was told in January of 2015 was not available and there were some problems in making it able to come up for another “auction” or a RFP (request for proposal). But his desire to own such a house as this one, that had some “character” and a “connection” to a time past, would just not go away. So, when he received an email telling him of an “rfp” for a small house that has a portion built in 1860, he went to look at it out of curiosity.
He found out that it had been put up before for an RFP and no one had made a bid. This time, he came to the second opening, & immediately saw in it a small home he could live in with his own walls and some land in front and back to be his own. So, he asked around and then asked for the bid package. The information on what to do came from the city and it was pretty much a great learning process to go through the step-by-step process, even with the extensive training he has received at college. It was at this time it came into his heart and mind to record what he was to do if he obtained this house so others after him could follow those steps through what seemed to have become almost a maze only the “initiated” could follow.
After the bid was made, Charlie waited for a reply. Then the city asked for more information, and more deadlines. While waiting, he felt it would be good to establish an entity to help people in this process who had experienced a trauma in life and were willing to work daily on rehab-ing a building to make it their home.
About this time, there was a change in the social services contractor for the building he lived at, and he learned of a Career Initiatives grant opportunity from the Recovery Learning Community. He applied & it was granted. Almost every day, Charlie works on updating a website that was established for this entity he now is calling S.C.A.R.F. (Saving Culture, Actively Reclaiming Futures) at http://scarf.atwebpages.com. And at popular request, he has also established a Facebook and twitter presence.
We need lawyers, architects, builders, planners, designers, electricians, folks in the plumbing, wall board, historic preservation and other such trades.
We need accountants, managers, and folks now retired that used to be active in those fields as well as students that are to make one of these field their career.
Let’s talk and see whom we can suggest to invite so we can have a wide cross-section of people to form the nucleus to launch this entity. Consider this to be your personal invitation to join us in building a better community by helping people rehab fantastic older buildings into great and warm homes!