Bringing communities together through Home Builders Blitz
Thousands of professional homebuilders and suppliers donate their time and treasure to build, renovate and repair homes in communities nationwide during Habitat for Humanity’s annual Home Builders Blitz.
Hear from several professionals who helped Habitat partner with 230 families in 2019 on why they choose to participate.
President and founder, AGH Homes
Alicia Huey’s first time volunteering with Habitat transformed a family’s life — and hers. “I came home and told my husband that I had fallen in love with homebuilding, and I wanted to change careers,” she says.
Twenty years later, Huey has her own homebuilding company, AGH Homes. She has taken part in Habitat’s Home Builders Blitz for a dozen of those. “I feel like I need to continue to give back to Habitat because that is where I got my start,” Huey says.
Huey also has participated in the Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project and a Global Village volunteer trip to Cambodia. With those and Home Builders Blitz, she loves the sense of teamwork. “To be able to work with all of the trades — from the framers to the electricians to the HVAC professionals, everyone it takes to put something like this together — is amazing,” she says.
Then there are the future Habitat homeowners. “They come out and work alongside us — their children, granddad, dad, brother, sister, sometimes their coworkers. I don’t get to know the families I build for every day like I get to know these families,” Huey says.
Relationships continue long after the build. One of the homeowners Huey built alongside works in the gift shop at the Birmingham airport. “When I travel, I will stop by and ask about her dad who was always at the site watching over her,” Huey says. She also is touched by social media messages that she has received from homeowners from previous years wishing her luck on this build.
Regardless of whether Huey is building with Habitat or her own company, every home has something in common, she says. “This is where families are going to have Christmases and their kids’ birthday parties in the backyard. We are building something where they can have memories.”
President, Calmes & Rohm Construction
Brian Calmes has been in the homebuilding business nearly half of his 35 years. As a lead organizer and builder on the 2016 Home Builders Blitz, his first, he put in months of preparation to make sure all the tools, plans and hands were in place for the crew to reach their goal: construct a Habitat home in five days.
That first day of the blitz, Calmes watched as all his long nights of planning came alive. Construction professionals who might otherwise compete for business came together to help a local family secure a solid foundation from which to grow and thrive. “It was the greatest experience of my life — the feeling of giving back and doing it the best way I knew how,” he says.
By Friday, the home was complete. He watched as three young girls pushed their hands into the wet concrete outside of their new home — leaving their mark on more than the sidewalk. “It was incredible having them there,” he says. “That made the experience for me.”
During the 2019 Home Builders Blitz, Calmes’ volunteer crew worked to remodel two homes, making them safer and more efficient. The work included installing new siding, wrapping windows and repairing soffits.
“This work is so important to the larger issue of affordable housing,” Calmes says. “You can only build so many homes a year. Coming together to make small improvements to homes so they’re livable, safe and affordable is something we all as neighbors can contribute to.”
Procurement and Project Manager, Harris Doyle Homes
Home Builders Blitz week is always filled with a lot of blood, sweat and tears, Kellie Lloyd says. “But the important part is what comes next,” she adds. For one homeowner, the what-comes-next was that her daughter got to host her birthday party at her house for the first time.
A what-comes-next for Lloyd is the Christmas cards that she receives from the families she has built alongside. Another is the text she recently received out of the blue from a homeowner from a previous year: “Just want to let you know I am thinking of you. I love our home and thank you so much.”
Lloyd has participated in four Home Builders Blitz events. She loves the camaraderie. “It creates a sense accomplishment that you can pull all the trades and your vendors together, that everybody is willing to work together,” she says.
Home Builders Blitz also presents a chance for those at the company where she works to bond. “It is a way for all of our employees to get together,” she says. “It gives everyone a purpose and the opportunity to do something as a team.”
As important as that is, it’s the what-comes-next that keeps Lloyd coming back, such as the home dedication that takes place at the end of each build. “You are handing a key to a homeowner who a lot of times has never had a place to call their own,” Lloyd says. “It is rewarding, and it is tearful. It is amazing.”
President, Peak Roofing & Construction
Jeff Riss knows firsthand the importance of a stable home. As a child, his family “jumped from place to place” around the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Now a husband and father, Riss is grateful to be able to provide his own family the security that he believes only a home can provide.
“Having a place to come home to at the end of the day, one that’s your own, in my personal experience, means the difference between a negative and a positive outlook,” Riss says. Not having an affordable home of your own can weigh on a family. “When you lift that stress away, so much more becomes possible,” he says.
After finding success through their roofing and construction business, Riss and his wife, Joey, felt called to use their skills to help other families clear that pathway to possibility. They began donating labor and materials to Habitat Collin County and their Habitat ReStore. “We wanted to put our skills to good use and be a part of making folks’ lives and homes better, more complete. I wanted to give back to the community that has supported us,” Riss explains. “The work is so important to us as a company — and a roof is so important to a home. It’s a perfect fit.”
Over the past two years, Riss has lent time and resources to several Habitat projects, including the 2019 Home Builders Blitz. “A home offers a sense of stability and self-worth that no one can take away from you,” Riss says. “I’m glad I can use what I know and what I have — and that my workforce is eager to do the same — to help other families in Collin County find that freedom.”