Staff Spotlight: Dustin Foskett

The human component. It doesn’t take long into a conversation with Dustin Foskett, the new Facilities Manager at Community Supported Shelters, for him to bring that into focus. His path over the years—from Bolivia where he helped build shelters for children and orphanages to the island of Rota in the Pacific where he helped develop an aquaponics program—is full of examples of promoting shelter and food securities, which he considers core to nonprofit work.

Dustin Foskett, the new Facilities Manager at Community Supported Shelters

Dustin spent his childhood locally in Florence before moving back East where he has family. In 2011, he came back to Eugene for the International Studies graduate program at the University of Oregon. It was during his course work at the UO that he traveled to Bolivia and then Hawaii and Rota, leading to his graduate thesis “Food Sovereignty in the Pacific Islands Related to Aquaponics.” 

After graduating, he accepted a position as manager of a company involved in the expanding legalized marijuana industry in Oregon. But the desire to return to more meaningful work led him to leave that position earlier this year. “I wanted to move back into what I am interested in, the human component, the nonprofit world,” Dustin recalls. When the position of Facilities Manager became open at CSS, Dustin was recruited to fill that role and began his work in April.

The CSS Community sites have limited infrastructure and require a good deal of regular support from the Facilities Team, which includes three permanent workers. Dustin also works with volunteer groups that range from 10 to 15 people, who work on a variety of projects.  As sites do not have plumbed access to clean drinking water, Dustin’s team is responsible for delivering it weekly. “We bring water to communities twice a week,” he says. “We have a trailer full of two grey water tanks, and we have a truck with a freshwater tank. We deliver freshwater to all the sites and extract the grey water at the same time.”

Another ongoing focus of the CSS Facilities Team is the collection and processing of firewood. “We are constantly taking donations all year round of firewood. We need about 80 cords per season,” Dustin says.  Even during the hot summer months, wood is gathered and processed at the Eugene Mission, which provides CSS with space to split and store the wood. It is later delivered by the Facilities Team to each site for heating during the colder months. For wood processing, Dustin’s team shares the work with CSS community members. “The maintenance team works with clients, and that’s a very positive experience to have, not only for us, but the clients as well, getting out and being productive. It’s very nice.”

Other regular work by the team includes landscaping, mowing and weed-whacking, gate maintenance, repair and improvement of common spaces, Hut repairs and improvements, and upkeep and repairs of equipment. As with any large community, the work seems to never end. There is always some project waiting.

What has it been like for Dustin to get back to nonprofit, human-component work at CSS?  “I love working for the organization,” he says. “CSS is filled with people that are inspired and motivated to work for others. I love being part of an organization that is willing to do what it can with the resources that it has. The organization comes together and makes a lot of positive impact in people’s lives. 

“I have seen some beautiful things happen with very vulnerable people and situations where having a Hut and someone who can listen to them and care for them—and even where they can volunteer and get a lunch that day. It has completely changed how they think of others and how they think others view them. The people here are very strong, very loving. And even [if] just a little bit gets done each day, you can notice, and you can feel that there actually is an impact and things are getting done. And I’ve seen it in people’s lives. It’s just a beautiful thing, really.” 

By Keith Dickey