The Eugene Mission has renovated one of its buildings to create a new Learning Center to accommodate our growing revitalization program that includes classes facilitated by Mission staff and high-impact volunteers. Guests of the Mission who are enrolled in the R3 Program attend classes each week. The curriculum includes a variety of topics and formats that accommodate interests, mobility, mental health and work schedules.
The Learning Center includes a large central classroom space, which will also serve as a meeting space for the broader community. The room is almost complete and has sliding panels to create three smaller meeting spaces for classes that are occurring simultaneously. One scenario would be a financial literacy class for guests with a computer lab hosting Life Change Program participants on the other side of the wall.
The computer lab consists of 12 new laptops and “computers on wheels” (C.O.W.) stations so that each space has adaptability. Computer skills are a huge need in our guest population and the C.O.W. format allows for computers to be rolled out for various classes and securely stored away when it is time for bible study, a physical fitness workshop, social hour, financial literacy class or recovery support group.
The Learning Center building also has a dedicated wing for a therapeutic day-use space for guests with children who are residing at the Eugene Mission, and for guests who have lost custody of their children but have supervised visitation. Called “The Family Room,” the space is an indoor and outdoor area that is trauma-informed and focused on strengthening parenting skills and reducing the trauma of homelessness for vulnerable families.
The Family Room at the Eugene Mission is complete and ready for indoor play and family gatherings. The Family Room is a dedicated wing in the Eugene Mission’s new Learning Center that once served as a dormitory for guests with children. During the pandemic, mothers with children moved into individual family units in a previously vacant portion of the Women’s Center. This is a better format for our guests with children as many arrive under chaotic circumstances. Many are fleeing domestic violence and instability and we would like their arrival at the Mission to be a nurturing and de-escalating experience.
The Family Room was made possible with significant help from PakTech Corporation, the Chambers Family Foundation and the Roberts Family Foundation. The Family Room is large and serene with sky-blue walls and a mountain scape.
There are beautiful displays of books for all ages, provided by Assistance League of Eugene. The room has comfortable furniture and activity tables and is intentionally “screen-free.” The Family Room also serves as a calm and beautiful space for our guests who have supervised visitation with family members or appointments with case workers. We are so grateful for the generosity of our supporters who have made this space possible.
The final component of the Learning Center is a culinary training kitchen. There is a small kitchen in the Learning Center building that will be transformed into a residential home-economics-style classroom kitchen. This kitchen will be used to teach guests the cooking skills they’ll need for self-sufficient living. Many Mission guests have never learned to cook food from scratch.
Eugene Mission staff will also work with guests to learn skills in hospitality, including setting up the room, preparing a banquet or meal and delivering delicious food on time as part of a team effort. Many guests lack such skills and when organizations meet at the Mission, there is an opportunity to learn and connect. As the building is serviceable, we have already had the privilege of hosting Rotary, Lions and Kiwanis Clubs for weekly and monthly lunch meetings.
The dedicated training kitchen also means that guests who are utilizing the therapeutic family space will have the opportunity to prepare snacks and meals with and for their children. This encourages valuable life skills supporting nutrition education and the bonding that occurs when meals are prepared together as a family.