RAISING THE ROOF

by Christine Fellingham


 

 

It’s amazing what five hundred people can do when they decide to channel the energy they typically devote to their jobs towards something philanthropic. Houses are built. Families are bolstered. Communities are bonded.

That’s what the agents and managers at Semonin realtors have discovered in the twenty years that they’ve chosen to make Habitat for Humanity a company-wide cause. The commitment to building homes for deserving families is as embedded in their company culture as the commitment to their clients. “At this point, it’s just a given that everyone will throw their support behind the annual build,” says Stacy Durbin, sales manager and Habitat project manager. “We’ve never had anything but an incredible response.”

The company just completed their twentieth home at the end of September and, as usual, practically everyone rolled up their sleeves. “We had about 125 volunteers over the three-day ‘raise the roof’ effort,” says Durbin. “We had lovely weather and we had the house ‘weathered in’ at the end of day three which is important.’”

It’s important because it means that the recipients—a single mom and daughter who volunteered on the site with the realtors—got to keep their scheduled move-in date in early October. “This is a day they looked forward to for years; a day they weren’t sure would ever happen,” says Boyd Hurst, a residential agent who has worked on thirteen of the twenty Habitat homes. “We do everything we can to be able to hand them those keys and get them started on a new chapter.”

According to those who participate in the build, it’s an experience that’s as rewarding to them as it is to the new homeowner. “Getting to build a home alongside the new homeowners is an experience like nothing else,” says Durbin.

“It’s good for the soul!” It’s also good for the team. “I’ve gotten to know some of my co-workers in a really special way through this process,” says Hurst. “Especially those of us who’ve been coming year after year.”

Their connection to Habitat doesn’t end when the roof is raised. The company fundraises year-round through golf tournaments, cake raffles, payroll donations and office contests. In 2016, they raised $48,634 for the non-profit organization. They feel a sense of responsibility not only to continue the good work, but to encourage other companies to do the same. “If you are in this community and have employees in this community, you need to be supporting it in some big way,” says Durbin. “Habitat isn’t just a hand-out, it’s a hand-up. Involvement with Habitat doesn’t just get deserving families into homes, but it helps transform the community."



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