HomeAid Houston hit a milestone in August at the groundbreaking of The Village at Gracewood - Next Step Project. The groundbreaking marked the 50th HomeAid Houston project in its 15-year history. HomeAid is partnering with Builder
Captain David Weekley Homes on the first four of eight duplexes that will house mothers who need additional time on the Gracewood campus to finish their education or certification program.
“This groundbreaking was a celebration of more than just beginning our 50th HomeAid project,” said Carl Salazar, executive director of HomeAid Houston. “It also marked the decade-long relationship HomeAid has had with the Gracewood family. It has been an honor for the HomeAid team to be part of serving mothers and their children who need a safe haven from crisis situations. We look forward to the next stages of construction with the professionals at David Weekley Homes.”
The Next Step Project units will give mothers and their children the ability to learn to live independently while still being able to access counseling and other services on the Gracewood campus. This is part of a larger campus expansion project that includes the completed construction of a volunteer center and a community center that is in the planning stages. The David Weekley Homes construction team is being led by Brian Underwood, Mark Welch and Nancy Reid. Mark Atkins with MASA Studio is the project’s architect.
After an inspirational gathering at the site that included the David Weekley Homes and HomeAid teams, as well as representatives from Gracewood, GHBA and numerous vendors and guests, gold shovels marked the site in tribute to the upcoming construction.
“This project represents everything HomeAid Houston is about,” said Patrick Mayhan, 2019 president of HomeAid. “Our mission, to build new lives for homeless families and individuals through housing and community outreach, results in providing hope and homes for very deserving families. We are honored to help make that happen.”
Over the past 15 years, HomeAid Houston has worked in partnership with dozens of GHBA members to provide remodeling and small construction services to area homeless care agencies that are called HomeAid Care Projects.
In 2018, HomeAid partnered with the GHBA Remodelers Council (RMC), and the Custom Builders Council (CBC), on a two-phase project for Crossroads at Park Place. This agency was formed in 2001. Crossroads is a Christian organization that is committed to promoting the health, hygiene and dignity of the chronic homeless and those experiencing poverty in the southeast area of Houston. The agency serves 200 to 250 people on average daily. The project goal was to improve and expand their shower facilities.
The RMC successfully refurbished four 10-year-old existing shower units that had originally been constructed and taken to New Orleans for Hurricane Katrina relief. They had eventually been shipped back to Houston to service the homeless community thanks to Jim Brakeen, executive director of Crossroads, and his team.
Work by the RMC included a complete refurbishment of the exterior shell of the buildings as well as gutting and replacing all of the mechanicals inside and out. New shower stalls were built and finished out with new water heaters, doors, hardware, siding, roofing, benches and stairs. Builder Captains on the project were Sherry Pruitt with Whodid It Designs, Melanie Heinrich with TriFection Remodeling, and Sandra Crook with Greymark Construction.
Donations were provided by: A-Plus Glass, Bluewave Plumbing, Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery, Red Dog Dumpster, Richard Alan & Associates, RoofTec, Sherwin-Williams, SHR Remodeling & Repair, TriFection Remodeling and Construction, Ty Tipton and Western Pacific with a special thank you to Stephen Twarowski who donated time and labor to do the carpentry work.
Custom Builders Council
The CBC spear-headed the second phase of the project. Todd LeBlanc with LeBlanc Custom Homes and Rick Mosher with The Detering Co. were co-builder captains. The CBC was tasked with building a new freestanding shower unit similar to the existing units with the goal to add a minimum of two new shower rooms. This addition would allow 16 more patrons to use the facilities. The units were built at Detering and transported to Crossroads by Dave Gordon with Whitestone Builders.
All of the shower building interior and exterior components for both projects were donated to the project by: BMC, Royal Baths, Moore Supply, Southwest Sales, Image Electric, Richard Alan & Assoc., Therma Tru, Schlage, RoofTec, Sherwin-Williams and The Detering Co.
Matt Sneller with Sneller Custom Homes & Remodeling worked with Todd LeBlanc and the volunteers to complete the project. Generous GHBA donors Trendmaker Homes and Holcomb Properties Company provided the funding for the projects.
“Most people take for granted the daily basics of hygiene,” said Carl Salazar, executive director of HomeAid Houston. “The GHBA’s RMC and CBC teams appreciated the situation and were quick to make this project a reality. Both teams’ work ethic and generosity in giving back are evident in everything they do. We have been honored to partner with them on several projects over the years.”
The first time HomeAid learned about Wellsprings Village was in 2005 when the agency became one of HomeAid’s first major construction projects. Wellsprings Village is a nonprofit charitable organization that assists women in crisis,
by offering a safe environment, counseling and career sponsored workshops. At that time, HomeAid partnered with David Weekley Homes and Tilson Home Corporation, the two Builder Captains. The project involved the construction of
six cottages on their three acre campus in southwest Houston.
Thirteen years later, HomeAid identified the need to “refresh” these facilities that have provided 48 beds for homeless and abused women.
Answering the call for help on this project, were GHBA members from the association’s Remodelers Council. Sandra Crook of Greymark Construction led the construction team that included Melanie Heinrich with TriFection Remodeling & Construction and Sherry Pruitt of Whodid It Designs. The Council painted the exterior of several homes, added new gutters to prevent water damage, repaired roofs, replaced mirrors and vanity lights, added overhead lighting, replaced the trim on windows and doors, installed 6 dishwashers and 2 refrigerators and landscaped the area.
Sponsors and vendors who donated materials and services to the renovations included: A-Plus Glass, Abbott Construction, Absolute Glass, Arauz Gutters, Bluewave Plumbing, Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery, Image Electric, Vick Construction & Remodeling, McCoy’s Building Supply, Red Dog Dumpster, Richard Alan & Associates, RoofTec, Sherwin-Williams, SHR Remodeling & Repair, TriFection Remodeling and Construction, Ty Tipton and Western Pacific. Stephen Twarowski and Larry Abbott donated time and labor to perform the carpentry work.
“The remodel team hit the ground running from the first moment they stepped foot on the property,” said Bill Dalton, 2018 president of HomeAid. “Their generosity and compassion for women struggling to make a better life for themselves inspired everyone who worked on the renovations. We cannot thank them enough for being there for HomeAid and the women of Wellsprings!”
The Fight of All Time
The night of August 26th was supposed to be remembered by many as the “Fight of all Time” when Floyd Mayweather took on Conor McGregor. But that night proved to be something bigger than two men battling it out for a multi-million dollar payday. August 26th was the night Hurricane Harvey upped the ante and dropped a record 51 inches of rain throughout the Houston area. Thousands, and perhaps hundreds of thousands of people watched that fight from homes, bars and restaurants all over town. Many of them became stranded due to rapidly rising water.
Crystal Wicks from Northeast Houston was one of those. She realized that this storm was different than any she’d ever experienced. “After 10 p.m. the rain picked up and the water began rising quickly toward my front door,” she said. “I began to panic so I dialed 911. No one answered.”
Once the water entered her home, Crystal marked a wall so she could monitor how fast it was rising. She saw it was two inches every 10 minutes. She knew it was time to leave.
Crystal Begins the Fight for Her Life
“I climbed on top of my Jeep Wrangler and just wanted to stay there because I was afraid of drowning. It was dark and the water was as high as 5 feet at that point.”
Crystal’s neighbors threw her a rope and she jumped in and began swimming and trying to run toward them, going under twice before she reached higher ground.
“We fought off piles of ant beds to reach the end of the street where it was higher. Debris kept crashing into me, cutting me and slowing me down and dragging me under. There was a mass evacuation going on and in the chaos people were breaking and entering into the pawn shops, grocery stores and phone and shoe stores.”
Once they made it to Mesa St., Crystal’s neighbor, Nolberto Blanco, the owner of a trucking company risked his life by using his 18 wheeler to pick up everyone and their pets that he could, and brought them to safety.
Crystal was transported to the George R. Brown Convention Center and her grandmother was able to provide a place to stay from there.
Crystal returned to her home four days later after the water had receded. The door was blocked by furniture, her refrigerator was on its back, the bed was blocking her bedroom door and wet clothes were everywhere. Six feet of water had destroyed everything.
FEMA worked with Crystal to provide funding for reconstruction. Her contractor did not have the skills to provide quality restoration and eventually took her FEMA funds and did not complete the job.
Crystal contacted Bayou City Relief and they connected her with BuildAid Houston.
“The BuildAid team contacted me shortly after I completed the application form, and the construction began after all of the paperwork was in order. They had to tear out almost everything the first contractor had done, as it was not handled correctly. My home is nearing completion and it is more beautiful than it ever was. I cannot thank the BuildAid people enough for giving me my life back. They have been professionals from day one and show they truly do care.”
BuildAid, a HomeAid and GHBA rebuild initiative for pre-qualified homeowners whose homes flooded because of Hurricane Harvey, has received support from local builders and GHBA members who are fulfilling BuildAid’s mission to repair damage at little or no cost to the homeowner.
During BuildAid’s early planning phase, the initiative was selected as a recipient of the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund (HHRF) and presented with a grant for $5.5 million. HHRF was established by Houston’s Mayor Turner and Harris County Judge Emmett and is administered by the Greater Houston Community Foundation. In June, BuildAid was also awarded a $350,000 grant from the Rebuild Texas Fund that is available to BuildAid homeowners who need furniture after their home is restored. This is also a partnership with Gallery Furniture. In late September, HomeAid was also awarded a $200,000 grant from Wells Fargo to help fund BuildAid Houston.
Hello to all of you whom I have not yet had the opportunity to meet.
I am happy to be the new Executive Director at HomeAid Houston and would like to tell you more about myself, and what I hope to accomplish in my role. Before I get started though, know how grateful I am to all those who have supported our agency over the past 13 years. Bette Moser built an incredible organization and this is obvious by the amazing ways we have impacted the lives of thousands of our fellow humans in the Houston area. With your help, and through her leadership, we assisted many in finding shelter, meaningful support, and a new start in life. The numbers we’ve served are extraordinary! These accomplishments reinforce my belief that as we look at the lives of others who need a hand up, we understand it is up to us to help lift each other up. I know you feel the same, and it is shown in your support. For all your work, your contributions – I am grateful and inspired. We are changing the world.
In my short time as the ED, I have seen the tremendous work the staff, Board of Directors, and those who served in the past, have done to fulfill our mission - to build new lives for homeless families and individuals through housing and community outreach. In the coming months and years, it is my honor to take the helm and steer this ship toward continued success. I will maintain a high standard of execution, and also reach out to other communities to enlist them in our cause. We will diversify, add to our mix of revenue sources, serve agencies we’ve not yet known, and tell our story far and wide. We will build upon the past and strive to always improve.
I served my country in the US Navy, worked hard to learn business after leaving the military, and most recently worked as Director of Veterans Affairs for the City of Houston. All my knowledge and experience I will bring to bear in the work we do as builders of hope in our community. Thank you for this opportunity.
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