Students from Heart of Oregon Corps Youth Build Program will once again participate in the Sisters Rhythm and Brews Festival at the end of July.

Laura Handy, the executive director of the Heart of Oregon Corps spoke with The Nugget on the program and its connection to the festival.

The Youth Build program is one of six programs associated with the Heart of Oregon. It is a program based on leadership development, job-training development for youth who have left high school before graduating or face tough living situations.

“Young people join from all over Central Oregon to be a part of a program that takes them in and teaches them development skills even if they face the barriers of poverty,” said Handy.

Often, those who participate struggle with stable housing and affordable housing for their families. So, one of the ways they modeled the program was to have the youth help build affordable housing.

“They get to learn good work ethic and they all get construction licenses and learn how to build,” Handy said.

Heart of Oregon is its own licensed construction contractor. Youth Build has had a long-time connection with Habitat for Humanity, and so the program partners with them to promote affordable housing.

“We receive lots of support from Habitat and the community for this program,” Handy said.

Handy is involved with the program because she sees the youth as an invaluable resource in the community.

“I think the youth, especially those in need, are not seen as resources and this program motivates them to get out and provide opportunities for them in the community, and I have really seen them thrive and rise to the challenge again and again,” she said.

One way the youth are able to get involved in the community besides building homes is through volunteering at such things as the Sisters Rhythm & Brews Festival. The organizers, Jen and Joe Rambo, had the idea for a festival that had community impact, as they had been involved with Habitat as well. So, they spoke with Handy about having a group of Youth Build program members be a part of setting up the festival and volunteering.

“We love working with them and having the support for the kids and have them be able to be a part of something such as this,” Handy said.

Habitat volunteers help out with the event as well, with setup and parking and transportation of musicians.

“The type of support the festival offers is essential to the funding of these programs through private foundations, and it is awesome to see local investment,” Handy said.

The Heart of Oregon website is a resource for youth who are looking to enroll in one of their various programs, including Youth Build, and for volunteering and being a part of the festival. Applications are available on the website at


“We really are grateful for the support to the programs through the community and festival’s investment and belief,” said Handy.

The Sisters Rhythm & Brews Festival is set for the weekend of July 26-27 at Village Green Park. Artists include The White Buffalo, Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, Eric Gales, Larkin Poe, Mr. Sipp and more. Day passes are still available at https://