A Creative Juggler: Carmen Parkinson, Shop Coordinator

The CSS shop is a busy place with parts and pieces for projects in various stages of completion for Safe Spots and other locations. Carmen Parkinson is the new shop manager with the task of keeping track of it all.

“It’s a bit of a juggling act,” Carmen says. “It’s all part of what CSS does really well, which is being creative and flexible to keep things running as smoothly as possible.”

Carmen’s responsibilities include ordering supplies and building materials from Jerry’s and other vendors, keeping the shop well-stocked and organized—a never-ending task—and coordinating with other staff and volunteers on the many infrastructure projects under way.

A recent project is building picnic tables with built-in benches for the Safe Spots. These sturdy tables are being built by the Hut Crew. There’s also talk of building additional picnic tables to sell as an ongoing fund raiser. (If you’re interested in one of these picnic tables, contact Carmen at  carmen.csseugene@gmail.com)

There’s never a shortage of opportunities for creative improvisation at the shop. The record-breaking heat wave in early summer required ongoing ice bucket drop-offs to the Safe Spots and finding a solution to venting the extreme heat build-up in the new kitchen shelters. The shop team also designed and built secure boxes for portable propane tanks.

Carmen also helps coordinate Safe Spot maintenance teams. This group of folks makes sure the Huts, community buildings, and kitchen areas are in good working order, making repairs as needed.

“I love working at this very amazing organization,” Carmen says. “The CSS philosophy is there’s a solution to anything that needs fixing—you just have to ask the right person and find a workaround that’s efficient and practical.”

Carmen works with Hut Crew leader Jim Schmidt to order and stock a myriad of tools and supplies for new Huts or decommissioning older ones that have outlived their useful lives.

She had first-hand experience building Huts as a volunteer on the Hut Crew starting in 2019. She was hired as part-time Shop Assistant last year during the Safe Spot expansion, then became Shop Supervisor in early summer following the retirement of Barr Washburn.

Carmen brings a wealth of work and life experiences to the position. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and has worked as a design consultant, horse trainer, beekeeper, home school teacher, and a volunteer with Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) advocating for children living in unsafe homes and shelters. She has three children, including a daughter at the U of O.

“Carmen has the ability to coordinate and filter through lots of incoming information via the maintenance request system,” says Erik de Buhr, General Services Director at CSS. “She is good at delegating things and is great at working with people. A true trooper on the CSS team!”