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A little PEACE work

High school students build furniture for local family shelter
By: Susan Belknap Press-Tribune Editor
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Trenton Kelly has no doubt the completion of his latest school project was relevant to the real world. Kelly, 17, along with 16 fellow students from the advanced woodshop class at Oakmont High School, recently installed several cabinets, desks and window seats they have been building for the PEACE for Families shelter in Auburn. This has been my favorite class in all of high school, Kelly said. We've gotten to work with lots of people and we've actually built something that is going to get used by someone. Class instructor Dennis Lorenzetti is also proud of the work his students have accomplished. These kids did an awesome job, Lorenzetti said. This is a professional cabinet job, close to industry standards. Lorenzetti said the project for the Auburn shelter involved building 56 furniture pieces, built, stained and installed all by the Oakmont students. But it's not the first assignment his students have completed. Last year our class built a shed for the football team's Touchdown Club, Lorenzetti said. According to Ana Helman, communications director for the North State Building Industry Associa-tion, the PEACE for Families shelter has been a coordinated effort between HomeAid in Roseville, a charitable arm of BIA, and Oakmont High School. Oakmont is one of our partner schools and they have a great woodworking class, Helman said. HomeAid is the organization that constructs facilities and through various grants and donations is usually able to build at about 50 percent of cost. Helman said usually trade contractors donate their labor or provide materials at cost. For the PEACE shelter, John Laing Homes and Pulte Homes lent their building expertise as captains for the project. This is a great program as it allows the kids to build something for a good use and they get a feeling of serving and connecting with the community, Helman said. Dennis Whitcomb, a building superintendent for Laing Homes, has been involved with the PEACE project since its inception. He also serves on the Oakmont High School advisory board for the school's woodshop classes. These kids are sharp, Whitcomb said. They can read plans and take correct measurements. Everything for the PEACE project fit like it was made for the space it was supposed to be. These kids have a construction future. PEACE for Families began in 1974 as a rape crisis hot line. In 1994 PEACE for Families was established in Roseville to help battered women who had nowhere else to turn. The name, PEACE, stands for Placer Extends A Caring Environ-ment. Today the organization provides assistance to victims of domestic violence and offers intervention services such as a 24-hour crisis line, sexual assault/domestic violence emergency response, counseling, an emergency shelter for battered women and their children and transitional housing. According to Ann Engelbrecht, acting executive director of PEACE for Fami-lies, building the new safe house will provide 39 beds for anyone who needs to es-cape a violent environment. Prior to the new facility being built, victims of do-mestic abuse have occupied the current PEACE shelter, which is also located in Auburn, offering 24 beds. With the new shelter just about ready to occupy Engelbrecht is glad PEACE will be able to help more people. This is a three-year project, getting the new home built, Engelbrecht said. The whole facility was built with us in mind and it features two living rooms, three kitchens, childcare rooms, several bathrooms and room for our clients to engage in therapy. The whole project has been a collaboration between HomeAid and the community. Engelbrecht said the new facility is not a homeless shelter but clients are allowed to stay for up to 60 days. For those occupants involved with substance abuse a number of rehabilitation programs are available and enrollees have the option of staying at the Auburn facility for up to six months. We've helped 45-year-old transients as well as 30-year-old professionals' wives, Engelbrecht said. There is no typical victim of abuse. But we do see a difference with those who stay here. For many, there's a growth in their self-esteem. Because PEACE for Families is a nonprofit organization it relies on some governmental funding but most of their support comes from private donations. Those interested in making a donation can call (530) 823-6224. Victims of abuse can talk to counselors 24 hours a day at (800) 575-5352.