Volunteers cheered on a lurching semi-trailer as it pulled its cargo of 5,292 two-by-fours beside the tiniest of houses near 89th Street and Troost Avenue.
All that lumber will be used to start a village for homeless veterans. And most of the boards carried messages of thanks by donors providing the material.
Your sacrifice has not gone unnoticed, wrote someone next to the name Steve Clark. He festooned with Sharpie-colored American flags the $3 stud he purchased for the project.
The Veterans Community Project, a nonprofit formed by local veterans just nine months ago, hopes to have its first order of 10 tiny houses standing next month.
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The lumber was provided by another nonprofit, 2x4s For Hope, which delivered the goods out of Quincy, Ill. Organization founders Mark and Chris Lawrence traveled with the 18-wheeler carrying the wood.
“We do this on weekends, holidays, evenings, whenever we can,” said Chris Lawrence, who noted that both she and her husband have full-time jobs. “We’re just trying to help make a difference. Little by little, one board at a time.”
In 2010 the couple was part of a team of Quincy residents who donated boards signed with greetings to earthquake-struck Haiti. Forming the nonprofit 17 months ago, they hosted events in which people can sponsor a board, put their names to it and write well-wishes for survivors of disasters.
In recent months, the Lawrences have joined a nationwide movement to create tiny-house communities for needy veterans.
The shells of the 10 homes soon to go up will be built off-site in Linn, Mo., said Veterans Community Project co-founder Kevin Jamison. The unfinished homes will then be put on wheels and hauled to Kansas City. The interiors will be finished in the planned village, where one model home is on display.
“We’re going to see how we can work into the interior design a way the veterans can see some of these messages” on the studs, said Jamison, a Marine veteran. “Like maybe in a closet? That would be cool.’
Jamison said volunteer labor, donated material and Americans’ respect for veterans make the project possible.
So when the board-hauling 18-wheeler blew a tire on its way across Missouri, what would you expect? “Someone came out and fixed it for free,” Jamison said.