National Day of Service Hits Home for Local Executives

September 11, 2009-They scaled ladders to hang second story windows, battled shims to install exterior doors, trimmed windows to keep out the coming rains, and built a gate to finish the site fence. Through their collective efforts, 21 local executives helped four families move a little closer to purchasing their Habitat for Humanity homes currently under construction at Jubilee Commons in Rockwood.

Ten proud Habitat homeowner families have already moved into the 23-home project, which is currently in its third phase. Because of volunteer labor and donations, Habitat for Humanity is able to sell homes to low-income families at a 0% interest mortgage. Roger Hinshaw, president of Bank of America of Oregon and SW Washington, and Ryan Deckert, president of the Oregon Business Association, thought it would be great to celebrate the National Day of Service by inviting other local executives to build with Habitat for Humanity.

“We’re out here to work, and because we believe in the difference owning a home makes in the life of a family,” Hinshaw said. “The Habitat model works. Looking at these completed homes here, I see children coming down the sidewalk next to the gardens their families have planted. These children deserve a safe place to call home.”

The day’s participants included leaders of 20 companies doing business in Oregon: Acme Construction Supply, Assurety NW, B & G Builders, Inc., Bank of America, CH2M Hill, Classique Floors, Columbia Ventures Corporation, Erickson Air-Crane, Executive Forum, FEI Company, Home Builders Association of Metro Portland, KeyBank, Living Harvest Foods, Metro One Telecommunications, Neil Kelly, New Seasons Market, Oregon Business Association, The Conifer Group, The Stovall Group and Union Bank.

After wrapping up the scheduled tasks, participants gathered to hear first-hand from Amber Meyer, a future Habitat for Humanity homeowner. Amber shared how unstable living conditions have posed obstacles to her children’s educational success. Over the past two years alone, they’ve had to move five times. Her oldest child, now in fifth grade, was recently assessed at the first grade reading level. Through hard work, they have helped him to advance to the third grade level. Amber’s dream is for all of her children to have the opportunity to stay in the same school year after year. Through Habitat for Humanity and the support of its many partners, that dream will soon come true.

“Our kids had to switch schools three times because of rising rents, and it was hard because they had to leave friends and teachers,” Amber said. “But this year they started in the school near our future home at Jubilee. They will be in the same school system until they graduate, and that makes me so happy. On the first day of school they said ‘Mom can we make friends this time?’ and I said ‘Yes! Yes! Make friends!'”

An outstanding success, the purpose of the first Executive Build Day was to deepen and expand corporate investment in Habitat for Humanity’s mission in the community. For several participants this was their first experience helping to build a Habitat home. For others, like Deckert, the day was a confirmation of the values he shares with his peers.

“Looking around this group I see business leaders who work tirelessly to ensure the success of their companies, and who are willing to answer the call to pick up a hammer to help a family in need,” Deckert said. “It’s why we’re all here.”