17 Sep SALUTE Spotlight: Bend Build
For nearly a century now it is has been a Hutton tradition to practice giving back and bettering our community. Whether it is in our little corner of Millwood, or across the globe in Thailand, the kids and staff at Hutton have fully embraced the opportunity to serve.
Starting out as an opportunity to engage with a marginalized population, the service club from Hutton would participate in annual trips that centered around serving the homeless. Trips to Portland and Seattle were planned for the youth to serve meals, walk aside those in need and were challenged to evaluate how each different community helped this population.
In 2007, current Campus Director, David Milliken, decided to shift the focus and allow for a new opportunity to not only engage in service, but also to gain life skills and work ethic. For David, it was important to incorporate the lessons that many of us make with our fathers building things. “We take those memories for granted, and who would want to go through childhood without those chances to get your hands dirty and to just work hard,” David shared.
Thanks to a personal connection, David proposed a project incorporating the same Huttonservice mentality and a trip the kids quickly took a liking to – the Bend Build.
Located in the desert about 30 miles east of Bend is a permanent place of stillness – a place where visitors are welcomed to step back from the busyness of life and share in the daily round of prayer, work, silence and solitude. Run by Romuald and Denise, the Open Sky Hermitage started out as a vision to offer others a space for all to “tune out the noise and tune in to the greater reality.”
When Hutton began the Bend Build project with the Open Sky Hermitage, there was one small hermitage and a small shed with a composting toilet. Just a handful of years later, the retreat space now offers an outbuilding housing a small kitchen, dining area and bathroom, a separate hermitage with a wood stove, a solarium and beautiful decks to enjoy the scenery, much thanks to the hours of service that the kids from Hutton have contributed. From assembling the water pipes to laying hardwood flooring, each of the kids have gotten to experience how good it feels to accomplish difficult tasks. Each trip south includes eight to ten Hutton participants with each of them providing about 40 hours of service in just a few days.
Returning just over a week ago, this year’s group encountered the highs of contributing and the challenges that come with learning new skills. Sprucing up some decks, as well as building a solarium from start to finish were on this year’s project list.
Reflection, an important piece of the Bend Build experience, allowed this year’s participants to engage in meaningful dialogue around leading lives of drive, compassion and security. Shiann, a West Valley High School senior, has participated in the project since they first started going to Bend. She said that she valued the opportunity to talk with people she trusts about what feelings she encountered throughout the journey. When asked about why she enjoys Bend Build, Shiann shared, “It feels so good to work hard as a team and have the chance to make life so much better for other people. Everybody should make time for that.”
From stargazing as a group to the balancing on ladders, the kids reminisce the fun memories and most important lessons learned. This year’s participants agree, it’s cooperation, communication and being grateful.
Stay tuned for more stories about SALUTE programs and events!