Hamlet native David Cornes found himself out of work and a home a decade ago in Colorado’s Vail Valley. After living in a motor home at rest stops and pullouts, he eventually found some stability with the help of a nearby homeless shelter.
Now back home, Cornes wants to give back, donating his pottery to a silent auction supporting the Astoria Warming Center during this month’s Second Saturday Art Walk. The shelter starts operating again Nov. 15 in the basement of First United Methodist Church.
Cornes, 47, first started studying pottery at Seaside High School and joined the U.S. Army after graduating. He became a heavy equipment operator, serving over the next decade in Kentucky, Germany, Colorado and in the Reserve at Camp Rilea Armed Forces Training Center in Warrenton.
After the military, he moved back to Colorado for work as a heavy equipment operator. But after suffering from worsening migraines and schizophrenic episodes, he decided he couldn’t work anymore.
Cornes spent the next two years trying to get his disability claim approved. He lost the house he was staying in and moved into a motor home, moving around pullouts in the Vail Valley and once being taken to court by the federal Bureau of Land Management for illegal camping.
“In Vail, it was hard,” he said. “I pretty much knew I wasn’t going to be able to survive homeless there.”
Cornes eventually left for Grand Junction, Colorado, where he found a bed in a rescue mission. He stayed and volunteered there for the next year. He enrolled at Colorado Mesa University, where he studied for a bachelor’s of fine arts in pottery.
“I make for the most part functional stuff — teapots and vases and mugs,” he said.
About four years ago, Cornes moved back to Oregon. He stayed in Bend at Home of the Brave, a shelter for homeless veterans, and enrolled at Central Oregon Community College, where he made the pottery being auctioned off to support the warming center.
Cornes now lives in his childhood home in Hamlet with his elderly father. Finding himself stabilized again, he felt the need to give back and inquired about volunteering at the shelter before offering up his pottery.
“Those kind of places really helped me out when I became homeless and didn’t have anywhere to go,” he said. “You can go wash (clothes) and take a shower. Those kinds of places mean the world to some people.”
During art walk on Saturday, the warming center will host the silent auction of Cornes’ work and a judging contest for a new logo, with music by pianist Charlie McKenzie, a local fisherman and homeless resident. The winning logo design will be decided by a three-person jury of artists. Another vote will be awarded to the logo that receives the most votes from visitors during the art walk.
“This logo is to be able to show our supporters in town,” said Ron Maxted, a volunteer and board member with the warming center. “The expression of compassion for fellow man is the theme of this logo contest.”