Carpenters Partner with Statewide Veterans Organization

Carpenters Partner with Statewide Veterans Organization

December 12, 2023

When MACV reached out to its community partners for assistance with this project, the Carpenters were among the first organizations they contacted.

MVAC Apprentice Group

Group photo of the 11 CTI students who were working on interior framing for the 10-unit building during the week of 10/16. Students are standing in front of the Arlington House building that will house a three-bedroom apartment, community center, MACV offices for on-site services, small gym, and a spacious area for resident gatherings.

In an inspiring collaboration, the Carpenters Training Institute (CTI) Twin Cities Campus has partnered with the Minnesota Alliance Council for Veterans (MACV) to give new life to a housing site known as Arlington House. Located in Saint Paul, this project will provide housing for homeless or at-risk veterans. This partnership represents a unique training experience for CTI apprentices and a chance to give back to those who have served our country.

Arlington House, a housing site previously owned by a nonprofit organization offering short-term emergency shelter to adolescents in Ramsey County, faced funding challenges that contributed to its closing in 2022. The search for a new nonprofit with a similar mission for the Arlington House concluded with the selection of MACV, a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving veterans by providing assistance with housing, employment and legal matters. MACV decided to honor the legacy of the previous organization by keeping the Arlington House name.

The location of the housing site was attractive to MACV due to its proximity to public transportation and a desire to expand in Ramsey County. MACV also recognized the potential the current site had in being able to convert an existing emergency shelter into permanent housing. They also believed that Ramsey County would be supportive of this project.

MVAC Apprentices

Two fourth-year apprentices from CTI Twin Cities Campus preparing framing for the main level.

When MACV reached out to its community partners for assistance with this project, the Carpenters were among the first organizations they contacted. The Carpenters maintain a strong relationship with MACV utilizing our resources to conduct trainings, through the Helmets to Hardhats program, and active participation in MACV events. Jon Lovald, the Chief Operations Officer, also recognized the potential for a partnership that would transform Arlington House and offer CTI apprentices unique training experiences.

The transformation of the project began in the spring of 2023 with two buildings. The first building, currently undergoing renovation, will be developed into ten units, five on the main level and five on the upper level. Many of the veterans are 55 years and older. When designing the space, they focused on accessibility ensuring lower-level units have no steps. All units have wider doorways and lower countertops. The second building will house a three-bedroom apartment, a community center, MACV staff offices for on-site services, a small gym, and a spacious area for resident gatherings. It is anticipated that residents can start moving in March of 2024.

This collaboration is providing CTI apprentices with invaluable learning opportunities. They can apply the skills they have acquired throughout their apprenticeship on this project. The site has also presented them with challenges not typically encountered in the controlled environment of the training center. They are problem-solving, expanding their skill sets and working collectively to deliver lasting value for the future veteran residents of Arlington House.

“We are going to continue providing as much value as we can on this project. It is a great experience for training. Our students love being here and are fully invested in what is happening on this site. They understand the meaningfulness of what they are doing here and support MACV’s mission,” said CTI Instructor Dan Hunt.

Fourth-year apprentice Levi Bican indicated this project offers invaluable lessons. “One thing that I have enjoyed about this, as opposed to our classroom setting, is that we run into little hiccups out here that you normally don’t see in the classroom. Here, you run into unforeseen circumstances. For example, the pipe is in the wrong spot, you’ve got different elevations, and the floor might not be quite level. So, you get to combat that as you go on a site like this.”

Jon Lovald stated, “For us as an organization, this partnership is great, because it is a whole new set of perspectives and relationships of people who are coming and working in our space and learning about MACV’s mission. I have heard from people on the site that one of the common themes they were hearing was how happy CTI students are to have this opportunity outside of the training center. It has been great for us to have multiple CTI classes come through. It means a lot and demonstrates people’s willingness to help.”

The partnership between the Carpenters and MACV has demonstrated how compassion and education can help transform a community. They are not just providing a place for veterans to call home. They are transforming Arlington House to provide hope and dignity to those who have sacrificed for our country. So much can be accomplished when a partnership is formed based on shared values and community investment.