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Cover story: Builders construct community goodwill
When Frank Chiaramonte, vice president of Chiaramonte Construction Co. in the District, heard about the needs of the Children of Mine Youth Center, he immediately picked the nonprofit organization as his company’s charity of choice.
Children of Mine, founded by Hannah Hawkins in the early 1980s, offers a safe haven, homework help and food for about 70 children each day in one of the poorest areas of the District.
“Mrs. Hawkins basically makes her organization work with very little money, so we stepped in to repair the building so they have heat, working windows, a functioning bathroom, a working kitchen and fresh paint,” Mr. Chiaramonte said. “We painted and plastered the space the kids use for homework and put in new doors and windows. She was paying $3,000 a month for her heating bill, so we’re hoping this helps lower her expenses.”
Chiaramonte Construction Co., like many builders in the Washington area, provides countless hours of free labor, discounted or free building materials, construction expertise and cash to help its community. Some builders work with foundations affiliated with the local builders associations, while others choose to help local groups on an individual basis.
HomeAid Northern Virginia recently celebrated its 10th anniversary, said Christy Eaton, the group’s executive director.
“Our focus is to build and renovate transitional housing and shelters for homeless families in our area,” Ms. Eaton said. “We’ve worked on 65 projects over the past 10 years valued at about $10,000,000. Close to half of that value has been donated by local builders and their subcontractors.”
Doug Smith, president of Miller & Smith, received the Presidents’ Award for his exceptional dedication to the goal of ending homelessness and his service to HomeAid Northern Virginia.
“We’ve supported HomeAid because we really believe the organization capitalizes on what builders can do to help their community,” Mr. Smith said. “HomeAid leverages the expertise of contractors and their suppliers to save money for the nonprofit groups, who can then spend the donations they receive on improving their services or buying additional properties for shelters and transitional housing.”
Mr. Smith said Miller & Smith’s employees, suppliers and subcontractors have donated countless hours of work on 10 HomeAid projects over the past decade.
“So many of our contractors and employees say they will donate labor and time, and then the amount always grows,” Mr. Smith said. “There are just a lot of great people willing to get involved. We always have at least one day toward the end of each project when our entire staff works together on the home, putting on the finishing touches, and then often they will donate gift cards and food to the shelter.”
K. Hovnanian Homes is the sponsor of a $1.2 million expansion of the Serve Family Care Shelter in Manassas, Va., which will increase the shelter’s capacity from 60 beds to 92 beds.
“As a builder, we are capitalizing on the resources of our trade partners, suppliers and subcontractors, who donate free time and materials or reduce their prices for the HomeAid projects,” said Chris Payne, group director of purchasing for K. Hovnanian Homes. “While HomeAid is usually our biggest project each year, we also participate in Christmas in April projects from time to time to work on smaller projects that help our community.”
The Craftmark Group, parent company of Craftmark Homes and Craftstar Homes, supports Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County.
“Ken Malm, president of the Craftmark Group, is on our board and has been an enormous help by giving us substantial financial donations, donating house plans and building lots for Habitat homes and helping us with issues that come up during the process of developing land,” said John Paukstis, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County, Maryland, Inc. “He’s also introduced us to professionals in the building industry who have saved us money by donating time and expertise.”
Many local builders support Habitat’s work by providing materials, money and skilled leaders with building experience who work with volunteers to build homes for needy families.
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