Community First! Village | Charles Maund Toyota

Arriving at the Community First grounds I was taken aback with how many forms of housing I immediately saw…AirStreams, RV’s, tiny houses and a teepee. Now I think the teepee was just for show, but the entrance was fun and eye-catching, and I wondered if we were in the right place.

I was here to get my car serviced and garages aren’t usually so inviting. My daughter was immediately enthralled with an old truck that was decorated with plants and I was riddled with questions, how had I never heard of this interesting place before…and what exactly was it?

After receiving a tour of the grounds, and I immediately realized that this was no ordinary garage and I was about to be introduced to a community that I would not soon forget. Our tour guide told us stories and showed us around so we could have a better understanding of what exactly went on within these 27 acres of land.

First developed by Mobile Loaves & Fishes, Community First Village is now completing phase 1, and is designed to house 200 men and women who were formerly homeless. When phase 2 is completed, the community will total 51 acres and be able to house 500! I was in shock and really impressed when I heard those numbers, so many people will benefit from this one community alone.

While hearing the stories and seeing first hand how this neighborhood functioned, I was struck on how this could be any housing community in America.

  • There were homes getting restored
  • people visiting on porches and walk ways
  • dogs playing in the dog park
  • there were homes personalized with wind chimes and patio furniture
  • I even saw the stereotypical flamingo hanging out in a yard

Then my daughter saw something that made her squeal with delight, in the center of the development was a play area and giant chess set. She pointed and awed, even ignoring the chickens ,because all she wanted to do was play… 3 year old’s do have priorities.  I witnessed first hand what made this place special, it has to do with the hard work and passion of the staff, the residents and its sponsors. They all work interdependently to make this mini city run smoothly, by maintaining projects around the community, as well as helping establish new ones.

While on the tour, I was able to see the different types of ‘Community Works’ shops that make this homestead unique, they all provide jobs for the residents and help others start their own business’. There is the Community Concessions and Catering branch, it provides meals for residents and the public, during special events. In the Forging/Metal workspace I touched an anvil and saw how powerful these types of tools could be; it takes real skill to maneuver around this workspace. The Art studio is where artists prepare their art to be sold at markets and in the general store, you can even commission pieces! The community garden, also called Genesis Gardens, is operated by residents and members of the Austin area. 

This branch accepts apprentices from the area, so if sustainable agriculture has been an interest of yours, apply. Goodness Press is their screen printing operation, and they can do individual orders or larger groups. The Car Cares Automotive garage by Charles Maund was impressive and was a big reason as to why I was here.  I’ve been in the area for a little over 3 years and haven’t really found a local garage I can take my car to. So when I heard about this unique place I wanted to try it out. The car center was professional, organized and the staff was sweet to my kids. One of the employees understood how difficult it was for my daughter to wait around and not touch everything, so he let me in on a fun secret, if you leave a cell number they will call you when your car is ready. BOOM!! Game changer, this would allow me to get the kids out of the garage and explore.

The playground is only a 2 minute walk, the chickens and goats are usually grazing a short distance away or we could check out the local store. A few things happened because I tried out the Car Care shop, I was able get that oil change that I desperately needed; my car was detailed beautifully, and I no longer smell milk in my backseat; it allowed my little one to move around and burn some energy; and I was able to offer support for a thriving new community. It was super affordable for the services they offered and super easy to schedule an appointment. Even though I live in Round Rock, the drive only took me 22 minutes on the toll roads, and honestly, I drive that to go to my favorite restaurant.  

Helpful links so you can be part of the one of a kind endeavor:

 

 

 

 

Becky Rodriguez
Becky is a transplant from New Mexico and has been in the area for 2 years now. She has her Bachelors of Science in Education from New Mexico State University and has been involved with Big Bothers/Big Sisters; Habitat for Humanity; and TRiO EDucational Talent Search. She is engaged to Ryan and the mother to a feisty 3 year old named Olivia and a doe-eyed 9month old named Frankie. Becky enjoys exploring Austin and the surrounding areas, not a weekend goes by that her, Olivia and Frankie take 2 hours to get out of the house to try a new activity, attend a festival or play in a new park and then only 20 min. before one of them has a meltdown...Goal is to take the first number down and bring the second number up!

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