Plans made for tiny home village

The Tailgate Ministry is proposing building a tiny home village somewhere in Ozark County to help address the need for affordable housing for family members. The group, which operates as a business and charity construction business, has proposed this type of layout. The village would include small homes or cabins that range from 640 square feet and up. One side of the community would be dedicated to senior housing for community members who may need or want to downsize from a full home. The other side of the community would be for community members who may be having a difficult time paying rent or finding housing for families. In between the two sections of homes, the Tailgate Ministry envisions several buildings and facilities that could be used by all village members. They are proposing a couple playgrounds, a basketball court, a library and computer area, a fellowship hall with a kitchen, a multi-purpose building, clubhouses and storage sheds.


The Tailgate Ministry has been making quite the impact around Ozark County at a grassroots level, completing tasks that range from bringing free food to residents who need it to helping refinish a garage into an apartment. 

Construction work is now a main focus of the charity, as members work to use their carpentry skills to help the needy and provide services for those who can pay for them. 

In last week’s Times (See “Building a better future: Ozark County’s Tailgate Ministry built from foundation of compassion and service” in the April 27 edition), an article detailed how the ministry began with Isabella resident Arthur Fortin and a young lady, who has asked to remain unnamed in the newspaper articles. 


Another carpenter in the ministry 

The Tailgate Ministry now has another young lady working with them. 

Art says the newest charity employee was left homeless after a fire destroyed her family’s home last year. She has two children to care for. 

Together, Fortin and the two young ladies have been tackling both paying construction jobs and charity jobs they’ve completed without payment for residents who can’t afford to pay for the services.

Fortin says the two young ladies earn a salary for the work as paid employees, giving the pair a way to earn money at a reliable job in Theodosia, an area where jobs are scarce. He says the young women are also learning construction skills for future careers they may pursue. 

“I pay the young ladies pretty well, even out of my own pocket if I don’t have enough funds from paying jobs. On paying jobs, I negotiate by means… if I’m talking to someone who doesn’t have much, I ask how much they can pay. If they can’t afford to pay the regular carpentry fee for that type of job, we discuss what they can pay,” he said. “If I can’t negotiate the fee as high as I want, I pay the rest of the girls’ wages out of my own account. And what is left goes into the operating fund.”

The original young lady and Fortin are working to build their new co-worker a home, as well as others in need.


Tiny cabin village

While the Tailgate Ministry is actively working on several projects, their bigger goal for the charity is to create a small cabin village which includes a community center to bring together seniors who are looking to downsize their homes with families who have a need for affordable housing. 

“It kind of started when someone said we needed a community center, a real community center, not just a little building with one purpose,” Fortin said. “So, we sat down and made a list of needs in the community. When we went through the list, we had families who were struggling and needing help and the retirement community who doesn’t want a big house or don’t need as big of a home as they once had. Maybe they can’t afford it or can’t take care of it.”

The crew have drawn up plans for the proposed village of small cabins, ranging in size but starting around 640 square foot per home. 

One side of the community would be dedicated to senior housing, and the other side would be dedicated to community members in a bad spot that may need help getting back on their feet. The charity workers say the families with children in the needs-based section could provide seniors with companionship and help they may need around the house. 

Fortin says the cabins will be built to certain specifications to comply with the HUD (Housing and Urban Development) program, which provides government assistance for residents to pay rent. 

Between the senior housing and needs-based housing would be several community buildings that could be shared by those in the village and other areas of the community. The plans include multiple playgrounds and a basketball court, a library and media center, a chapel, a fellowship hall with attached kitchen and a multi-purpose building. 

The Tailgate Ministry team has presented the proposal to the Village of Theodosia in hopes that the municipality may revise their zoning regulations that require a minimum of 1,000-square feet per single-family dwelling. The topic has come up in at least three meetings. At the last meeting April 4, the request was discussed but there was not a trustee who would second a motion to vote on the issue. So it’s been tabled at the moment. 

Fortin says the Tailgate Ministry had hoped to locate the first small cabins inside the village of Theodosia in the Cedar Hills subdivision as there are several available plots of land at an affordable price that could fill the needs of those who need housing right now.

“Eventually, I see the project being established somewhere out in the county though, just for space reasons,” Fortin said. “We just need the funds. If the money and the land somehow appeared, I’d start working on it tomorrow.”

‘Such a blessing’

Fortin is not shy about how the Tailgate Ministry has shaped his life. 

“God put that young lady in our life to help us heal. Now we’re healed. I can talk about [our son who died] and not cry… and I think of her like a second daughter. It’s been such a blessing.”

He says the project has helped a lot of people in different ways: it’s helped many community members have their basic needs met through the donation of carpentry work and other needed items, it’s employed two women who are learning the carpentry trade and continue to hone skills that they’ll use later in life and it’s helped Fortin find a path back to a purpose after the loss of his son.


How to help

Those who would like to join the efforts of the Tailgate Ministry can help in a few ways:

“First and foremost, we need prayers. Prayers often lead to the funding that’s needed to change people’s lives. And it helps lead us in the right direction,” he said. 

The second biggest need is funding, building materials and supplies. Fortin has set up an account at the Gainesville Building Supply where he purchases much of the materials for the projects. He says community members can go into the store and ask to pay something off they have on the account or ask for a credit to be applied for future material.

For those who would like to donate money, two accounts have been setup at Century Bank of the Ozarks. Go to any branch and indicate you’d like to make a donation to be deposited into the Tailgate Ministry account. 

“Folks can choose from the Tailgate Ministries everyday account, which we use to purchase things for people that are direct needs that day and need to be filled - or they can donate to the Tailgate Ministries building fund, which we use to purchase materials for future building projects. And just to clarify, I never take a dime out of Tailgate Ministry for myself,” Fortin said. 

Another way people can help is to donate building materials and lumber that may be leftover from their own projects or furniture in good shape that the Tailgate Ministry can distribute to those who need it. 

“We’ll gladly come out and pick it up for you,” Fortin says. “We recently salvaged items from an old house. We got two showers, two nice standing sinks and enough 2x6s to do the floor joists in the first house we’re building, along with some 2x4s, electrical stuff, ceiling fans… It’s a big help.”

To arrange for the Tailgate Ministry crew to pick up donated items or to ask more about the project, call Fortin at 417-712-3975.

“I would like to thank numerous members of the community who have donated food, money, household goods, the use of trailers and more. I would also like to thank The Fountain Church for their support through the community Thanksgiving dinner. I would like to thank members of the Theodosia United Methodist Church for their support on this journey. I would like to thank two very special grandmothers that have helped in so many ways,” Fortin said. “A very special thanks has to go out to my wife Norma who has ran a resort and watched kids so these mothers could work to change the future of their families. Norma’s part is possibly the most thankless, but without her none of this is possible. I love her more than she realizes, and the young ladies love and respect her also. Thank you for all the prayers. May God bless all of you.”

Ozark County Times

504 Third Steet
PO Box 188
Gainesville, MO 65655

Phone: (417) 679-4641
Fax: (417) 679-3423