Author photo

By Jim Cornelius
News Editor 

Building community in Sisters


Last updated 3/16/2022 at Noon

Jerry Baldock

Gonzaga University students learned how to use power tools safely and effectively during a Habitat for Humanity Collegiate Challenge visit to Sisters last week.

An annual rite of spring has returned to Sisters. A contingent of students from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, spent a week working with Sisters Habitat for Humanity at job sites in Sisters last week.

Such exercises in volunteerism and community-building were a regular feature of Sisters Habitat’s year, but they were cut off in March 2020 due to COVID-19.

“This is the first group back, and it happens to be the same great college,” said Christine Carriger, who manages Sisters Habitat for Humanity’s Restore.

The spring break Collegiate Challenge fits into Gonzaga’s broader effort in community engagement.

Tiffany Picotte, program manager for the university’s Center for Community Engagement explained the mission.

“The mission of the office is first to bring students into community,” she said. “We really like to go to cities, communities that are very different from Spokane.”

Engagement missions are generally built around a social issue, like housing, the environment, or food security. The collegiate challenge fits both an education model and a service model of community engagement, Picotte said.

“This kind of falls in both camps, because I think a lot of education took place on this trip,” she said. “I think a lot of conversation has been around affordability and what’s happening with the [housing] market.”

And there’s hands-on, practical education, too. Students learn how to use tools and do basic construction — many of them for the first time.

The students — who range from engineering students to sociology majors — raised walls for an under-construction home in ClearPine and built access ramps at another home in Sage Meadow.

“It gives us an opportunity to work on projects we wouldn’t have been able to get around to,” Carriger noted.

Jerry Baldock

Gonzaga University students raised walls at a Sisters Habitat for Humanity home in ClearPine, and built access ramps at a home in Sage Meadow. They also took some time to enjoy Sisters Country.

The students were able to gain insight into the importance and value of the work, attending a dedication of a new Habitat home on Cedar Street.

The wider Sisters community pitches in to make these engagements possible.

Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church puts the students up during their stay, and Sisters Park & Recreation District offered shower facilities. Volunteers put together lunches.

It wasn’t all work and no play. The students went hiking and spent time exploring downtown Sisters.

“I want them to have as full an experience as they can,” said Picotte.

In the end, the actual work accomplished is only a portion of the value gained in the experience, Picotte noted. Students bond, gain insight into life beyond their campus, and learn practical skills. It really is about engagement.

“It’s not all about building a house,” Picotte said. “The connection — it’s huge.”

Author Bio

Jim Cornelius, Editor in Chief

Author photo

Jim Cornelius is editor in chief of The Nugget and author of “Warriors of the Wildlands: True Tales of the Frontier Partisans.” A history buff, he explores frontier history across three centuries and several continents on his podcast, The Frontier Partisans. For more information visit


Reader Comments(0)


Our Family of Publications Includes:

Https:// Data/dfault/images/masthead 260x100
Sisters Oregon Guide
Spirit Of Central Oregon
Spirit Youtube
Nugget Youtube

Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2024

Rendered 04/12/2024 09:32