Frequently Asked Questions
Do you have questions about this project? Visit our FAQ page at secondwindcottages.org/faq to see answers to some common questions.
Homeless in Ithaca
Ithaca, NY is a small sophisticated and progressive city, but behind a few buildings downtown, the "Ithaca Jungle" was a continuous encampment of homeless men and women year-round for decades – until last Christmas. Up until that point, Carmen Guidi was a self-made auto-body-shop owner living for himself in the Newfield hills and doing the "right thing" but not really caring for others. His life began to change as he read a book, went to Haiti, met a homeless man who committed suicide, then dedicated himself (and his finances) to giving the local homeless a place to live with dignity.
As the last 6 men in the Jungle became willing or desperate to leave that place in the deepening cold of winter, Carmen bought heated camping trailers one by one and hooked them up to water and electricity on his own land to give them housing. The Ithaca Jungle became empty just before Christmas 2012. Right now, all of those men are still living in the campers and Carmen relates to them as a friend. This year Carmen heard the call to build a village of tiny cottages, and he donated 7 acres of beautiful land behind his business (on the bus route) for that purpose.
The long-term vision of Second Wind Cottages is to build up to 18 tiny and separate 16x20' cottages in 3 phases to transition men from homelessness to renewed lives in the community. This fall the first 6 are being built. Volunteers and skilled professionals have rallied to get that done, and donations by local contractors and building suppliers have been generous and amazing!
We've raised $49,300 privately so far, but will need a total of $90,000 to $120,000 to finish the work. Local people, businesses, and churches are helping generously and we're working hard to finish the interiors by December 1st, but we need more help to finish the work.
As we launch this campaign, the Ithaca Jungle is almost empty again for the second winter in a row. That's a reflection of the new reality that 6 formerly long-term-homeless men are no longer among Ithaca's homeless. We want to build these cottages as a transition and pathway out of homelessness... helping 6 men, then 6 more, and 6 more after that.
Phase One: Six Tiny Heated Cottages
Exteriors of 6 cottages are almost done and the interior work has begun. They will feature:
- a total living space of 16x20' including a full kitchen and bath
- donated furniture which the men can take with them to their next apartment
- one of the best views of the hills surrounding Ithaca (really, it's true)
- (and after Phase II) a large "common building" for group events, recreation and laundry
The Vision: Homes and Friendship
Carmen first met the men of the Jungle by bringing them pizza and blankets, and the difference was he kept going back. As each man decided to accept it, Carmen helped some into medical care, some into rehab, some into regular apartments and jobs, and he kept investing in the relationships. Now those same men have begun to help each other.
The ultimate vision includes offering life-skills training, personal goal-setting, vocational and financial coaching, and open-ended 1-on-1 friendship. Each man is different, so each one will have a different path to health and progress. This is not a meant to be a program, it's a meant to be a relationship.
How You Can Help
We need funds now in order to finish the cottages by our target date of December 1st. With almost 100% donated labor, we estimate the cost of each cottage will be around $15,000 (with around $30,000 added to the total for environmental site work) — an amazing price for what'll be achieved in men's lives! Some lives have been saved from medical crises already! We need your help to:
- ask friends to get the word out and make some noise about this project
- come to the worksite to help us build any Saturday (if you live near the Ithaca area)
- give what you can financially to help buy materials
Together, we can end homelessness in Ithaca one life at a time.
Our "Thank You" Gifts
Local Artists help sponsor the Cottages
"Moon Flight" by Laura Petrisin, a gicleé print
(gift for the Wintertime Companions level of donations)
Laura is an artist/illustrator residing in upstate NY. Her paintings have been shown in art galleries, shops, and wineries across the Finger Lakes region of New York as well as in other regions and states. Her subject matter ranges from landscapes to wildlife to character portraits. She also loves book illustrating and has illustrated childrens’ books such as Poster Girl, published by Aboon Books and Pearl Girl, published by Penguin Readers.
"Island Beach State Park" by Janelle Tompkins, on canvas
(gift for the Waves of Compassion level of donations)
Growing up in New York, Janelle pursued her artistic skills through private and group art lessons. She then studied at Tompkins Cortland Community College and the University of the Nations in Kona, Hawaii. She completed an Illustration Internship under local artist Christi Sobel. Janelle uses acrylic, oil, colored pencil, pen and ink and charcoal, with an interest in drawing nature and landscapes.
"Waiting for the Wind" by Benlin Alexander, on canvas
(gift for the Wind Beneath Our Wings level of donations)
Benlin lives in Ithaca, NY and has recently opened his own professional illustration studio, working on children's books and various other commissions. In the summer of 2013 he worked at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and is currently showing a collection of his work there.