2013 Community Service Award Winners
Fine Earth Landscape
The Home Builders Care Foundation (HBCF), the 501 (c) (3) Non-Profit Community Outreach Program affiliated with the Maryland National-Capital Building Industry Association (MNCBIA), announced its winners of the 2013 Community Service Awards at the association's January dinner meeting at the Bethesda Pooks Hill Marriott on Thursday January 23, 2014.
The award is presented annually to individuals or organizations affiliated with the local home building industry in recognition of significant contributions to the community through unselfish efforts and dedication in support of projects that help the poor and disadvantaged in our communities. The awards were presented by HBCF Past-President Ted Smart of MDC Services LLC.
The first award of the evening, a Tom Sawyer Award for in-kind assistance, will be presented to Fine Earth Landscape, who played a valuable role on HBCF’s renovation project for the ABH Boys Cottage in Derwood, MD. The ABH Boys Cottage is a Montgomery County-based transitional group home that offers extensive therapeutic care and needed refuge to teenage boys with history of mental health issues and family life struggles.
Staffed by a team of professionals from Adventist Behavioral Health, the Cottage offers troubled adolescents a caring, supportive living environment in which they can address their psychological treatment issues while becoming reintegrated into the community.
The goal of the renovation project was to improve and make safe the home's two heavily used common areas – the kitchen and the backyard. In the yard, the scope of work involved extensive plantings and addressing substantial erosion due to runoff and years of wear and tear at the home. As well, an old pool deck area was revamped into a more suitable and attractive outdoor space.
With a key need for landscaping services amongst a tight budget, Fine Earth answered our call for help and offered a hefty discount on materials and labor. The company also worked around a winter stoppage and always performed their work with professionalism and respect for staff and residents. The company has also contributed to Habitat, Rebuilding Together, and programs helping wounded veterans at the Walter Reed Medical Center.
Our second Tom Sawyer Award was presented to Mr. Bruce Hutchinson, whose architectural services helped save the day for our plans to build a new picnic pavilion and grilling patio at the Home Builders Care Assessment Center (HBCAC), Montgomery County's primary emergency shelter for homeless men. The HBCAC provides year-round, 24/7 shelter to 800 men annually.
The new exterior improvements provide a more suitable place – instead of on the access road - for volunteers, staff, and residents to prepare and serve daily meals. As well, the new pavilion provides an inviting sheltered and supervised area outside the main entrance.
Plans for the new pavilion hit a snag when after obtaining the right-of-entry agreement from the County, we were informed that official stamped architectural drawings for our simple structure were required in order to obtain the building permit. Thanks to Mr. Hutchinson and his team, and their very generous 100% in-kind donation, the permits were obtained in great time and our August 22 dedication of the Chip Merlin Memorial Project went as scheduled, at a time when Chip’s widow, children and parents were home from college and all able to attend together.
Mr. Merlin, a former executive with K Hovnanian Homes, had served as Builder Captain during the original construction of the men’s shelter in 2000. Mr. Merlin passed away in July of 2011.
Mr. Jim Thompson, President of W.F. Wilson and Sons, Inc., a utility contractor, is this year’s winner of our Director’s Award. Mr. Thompson, a long-time MNCBIA member, has been a friend and supporter of our Foundation for many years. But in May, he took admirable initiative and called us into action after a series of severe tornados decimated Moore, Oklahoma and other surrounding communities. With peak winds estimated at 210 mph, the May 20 storm killed 24 people, injured 377 others, and destroyed an estimated 1,150 homes.
With his encouraging, we launched our Oklahoma Tornado Relief Fund Drive with Mr. Thompson himself pledging to match donations. Then with guidance from NAHB, funds were forwarded to the Oklahoma Home Builders Foundation, which has provided assistance to 75 families - including over 180 children - who were affected by the tornadoes.
The Community Builder Award will be presented to a Montgomery County-based business with a company core value of charitable giving in the communities where their team lives and works. On top of Ruppert Landscape giving 5% of its profits to charity, they have also organized region-wide community service projects and have actively helped with hundreds of other projects and organizations including Easter Seals and Food for the Poor. Ruppert has been generous with Home Builders Care Foundation over the years as well, providing its assistance on a handful of projects. They are also a past winner of a Tom Sawyer Award.
In 2013, Ruppert graciously agreed to host and manage our foundation’s first annual Bull & Oyster Roast at their beautiful corporate headquarters in Laytonsville. With amazing hospitality and signature service, their team helped with nearly every aspect of the event, including the facilitation of a Career Clothing Drive, sponsored by the Professional Women in Building Maryland chapter. The event was a great success, and we are proud to announce that our 2014 date is set for April 24, once again at Ruppert headquarters.
The cooperation, dedication and spirit of these 2013 Community Service Award Winners are excellent examples of why the Home Builders Care charitable construction program succeeds in helping end homelessness by improving the lives of at-risk individuals and families in our communities.