Many hands make light work, but they also make an impressive difference to families in need. The team at Ply Gem is putting that idea into practice with its Home for Good project, which aims to build 300 affordable homes for deserving families. To bolster the multi-year project, Ply Gem is donating more than $1 million in building materials toward its Home For Good partnership with Habitat for Humanity. The project is further supported by country music superstar Alan Jackson.
Inspired and Inspiring
The Home for Good project kicked off in late 2015, after CEO Gary E. Robinette and his team determined that the company wanted to make a major investment in giving back to the community. "In the last several years, we've seen the needle move on the company's market share and brand recognition, but our mission statement is to 'Help Build America,' and touches on core values of fairness and respect, and we wanted to focus on that," Robinette told Builder. "All of our companies have always had their own programs and efforts to give back, but instead of each brand having its own program, we wanted to create one that spanned the Ply Gem name."
As a building products company, the Ply Gem team determined to build 300 homes and knew the company had the ability to provide materials and funding. "The problem was, we're not homebuilders," Robinette says. "We needed a partner on the construction side, and what better organization to partner with than Habitat for Humanity?"
With Habitat on board as the contractor, Ply Gem reached out to country music icon Alan Jackson, who says he's proud to help get the word out about the program and Habitat for Humanity's efforts. "I have a lot of fans, and like most country music fans, they're very giving," Jackson says. "They'll see it out on the Internet and around the country and want to get involved."
One House at a Time
With the team and sponsorship in place, the Home for Good project has been building homes throughout the country, focusing on regions where the company has manufacturing facilities. Ply Gem also served as presenting sponsor of Habitat's 2016 Home Builders Blitz, held nationwide during the week of June 6. On its own, the Blitz accounted for construction of more than 250 homes nationwide, a full 100 of them supported by the the Home for Good project.
Robinette, Jackson, several Ply Gem associates, and countless Habitat for Humanity representatives and volunteers met in Nashville during the Home Builders Blitz week to put in some time swinging hammers, and to dedicate a Home for Good project house to new homeowner, Keosha Hendricks.
"Saying, 'thank you' is not enough to express how thankful I am to Ply Gem and Alan Jackson, and Habitat for Humanity and all their volunteers who put their effort into building my home," Hendricks told Builder in front of her new home before the dedication. "The volunteers that work on these houses, and the builders that give their time during the Home Builders Blitz, they give all their hard work and dedication to the job, and I never heard them complain. I hope they know that they're making people's dreams come true."
Hendricks grew up moving home frequently and changing schools, until her mother was able to afford a home for her three daughters. "My mom was a single parent, and she pushed me to get my own home too," Hendricks says. "After watching how hard she worked, I knew I could do it, and now my daughter will grow up knowing that her mommy had a stable home for her."
Giving with a Purpose
All Habitat partner homeowners must go through rigorous training and put it a good deal of "sweat equity" in advance of moving into their own home. Hendricks completed 30 weeks of homeowner training on insurance, mortgages, budgeting, credit, and home maintenance before construction began on her home. She also put in 300 hours of construction time, helping to build and erect the walls of her own home, and those of her new neighbors.
Knowing how much dedication Habitat homeowners have to making homeownership a reality, Robinette underscores that Home for Good is a "purpose campaign" for Ply Gem - not a marketing campaign. He adds that Jackson's messages of what home means as communicated through his music helps inspire their team to reach their goal. Jackson's song "You Can Always Come Home" from his 2015 album Angels & Alcohol essentially serves as the Home for Good soundtrack. (Watch the music video at the bottom of this article.)
"When you look at the trucks we have out there [for Home for Good], the boldest letters say 'Builders Wanted,'" he says. "We're giving money and materials, but we're actively looking for people to get involved. This is a cross-cultural effort about working hard and playing hard together, and about the excitement of our 9,000 associates to give back."
Jackson says seeing the results of projects like Home for Good is "one reason I love this country so much."
"The people in this country always step up and help everybody give their time and it's just amazing," he says. "I did work construction and built a few small houses when I was a young man, and worked for contractors, so I've been on all sides of the fence. I can appreciate how much work it takes to build something. There's nowhere else I'd rather live than this country to see things like this happen."