Seattle contractors and suppliers put their time, money, and heart into a much-needed multifamily shelter for homeless women and children. By Matthew Power

If you're one of those builders whose definition of community service begins and ends with donating to the Boy Scouts, the recent activities of Seattle's Master Builders Association may expand your view of civic philanthropy.

Stafford Homes, a Kirkland-based division of Schuler Homes, and a diverse group of tradespeople, suppliers, and builders have pulled off something of a miracle. Over a period of seven months, they worked with HomeAid, a nonprofit organization tied to the NAHB's Home Builders Care program, to build the "Vision House" shelter, a multifamily transitional housing complex, in Renton, Wash.

"We held a couple of lunches, where we showed a video of what HomeAid does," recalls Dan Lungren, vice president of construction for Stafford Homes. "That video makes you cry--I mean these tough contractors were sitting there crying. That made it real easy to get people involved."

Lungren, the builder captain for the project, says the multifamily project, orchestrated by a local housing organization called Vision House, "turned out to be the simplest thing we had ever done."

Not only did contractors donate their time and labor, but local suppliers kicked in tremendous amounts of materials. All of the hardwood floors, foundation work, and framing lumber were donated.

"We actually had to turn people away," notes Lungren. "And we only used 99 members (of the local Master Builders Association). We have 2,800 members--so that means we can do a lot more. We're actively looking for projects and encouraging other builders to get involved."