Thursday, June 22, 2017 This Week's Paper

House for Hope opens doors to brighter futures

Construction in Pierce County is on a slow bounce out of the recession, and school children will be among the first to benefit.

On Jan. 7 the Master Builders Association of Pierce County broke ground on its first House for Hope. When the craftsman-style home in is finished, MBAPC will donate half the profits to Communities in Schools. The other half will support the Master Builder’s Association. With luck, and a lively housing market, the home could generate close to $100,000.

The House for Hope is a fresh idea for the Master Builders: Most everything in it will be donated. “Kurt Wilson with Sound Built Homes wanted to reach out and do something for the community,” Tiffany Speir, the association’s executive officer, said. “This has been in the planning stages since October.”

Wilson, MBA president here, has been collecting donations, starting with the lot in Spanaway’s Rock Creek development and plans by Landmark Design and SEGA Engineers. He’s noticed a happy competition: Many of the donors are showing off a bit, committing to top-grade products.

“Everything from the design to the plumbing to the paint and concrete, from the lot to the plans, you name it,” Speirb said. “Kathy Kleber with Keller-Williams will be the listing agent, and she is donating her commission.” The permits, Speir said, are about the only cost that can’t be donated.

As the project has progressed, the Master Builders and Communities in Schools have spotted opportunities to stretch the benefits beyond the money. “Our builders are aging,” Speir said. “There’s a need all the time to be looking for young, motivated workers.”

Those young people are in the schools right now, said Teresa Maxwell, executive director of Tacoma’s Communities in Schools. It’s only a matter of connecting them to the opportunity, and the house can make that happen.

“We’ll take kids there to show them how it’s done,” she said of the construction site. “It’s a chance for on-site learning. Not every child is set up to go to college. We need to show them the opportunities.”

That’s part of the Communities in Schools mission, to connect kids to the resources around them, to give them a healthy start in a safe place to learn and grow.

That can mean inviting us to donate school supplies and clothing for kids who can’t get them at home. It can mean facilitating a one-on-one relationship with a mentor or tutor. It can mean introducing a young person to a career that inspires her. It can mean giving kids chances to give back, and discover their power to do good.

This house fits right in, Maxwell said. There are high school students desperate to find careers in trades, and building is rich with those opportunities, she said. As the plumbing, framing, electrical and HVAC systems go into the house, she’s pretty sure they’ll inspire students. Those students can then connect with high school classes, from math to shop to horticulture to get started on a career.

“I hope we can re-invest in the building industry as far as getting kids into the trades,” Maxwell said. “Mount Tahoma is a perfect fit, with its shop class. We need more of our kids inspired and empowered to stay in school. We want them to succeed in life, too.”

The house holds that hope. While the students won’t be working on construction at it, they’ll be meeting subcontractors, and possibly getting job shadow assignments that can lead to paid work. “You never know,” Maxwell said. “There might be summer jobs.” There might be living-wage careers.