Those who know DeNova Homes founders David and Lori Sanson, who happen also to be familiar with the Hearthstone BUILDER Humanitarian Award, might agree that this was a collision course in the making going back to about December 2004. It was only a matter of when stars would align--not if--our annual process of identifying and celebrating home builders who give back in big ways would find the Sansons and spotlight their work.
It happens that even as a hyper-busy Spring selling season 2017 gives the Sansons' Concord, Calif.-based home building firm a run for its money, and even as the organization opens its first new Southern California communities in its 25-year history, a project that's at the very top of mind for the Sansons has nothing to do with their day jobs.
A major focus of their attention, and a lot of Dave's waking hours, is the fundraise and completion of a $1 million dining hall at Fairfield, Calif. Mission Solano Bridge to Life Center, on which DeNova, Nordby Construction, and HomeAid Northern California have teamed up with plans to complete Phase 2 construction this year. This new facility will give the Bridge to Life Center's 208 homeless and hungry individuals an opportunity to be fed, housed and trained with compassionate and strategic care.
Since the middle part of the last decade, Dave and Lori Sanson--who were high-school sweethearts at Northgate High in Walnut Creek, and subsequently went on to graduate from Cal State Chico in construction management--have poured hours, their talents as builders and supervisors, and materials into several major facilities at the Bridge to Life campus, including the 6,024 square foot building that housed Mission Solano's first 80 women and children residents.
As we speak, Dave Sanson is leading the charge on the new dining facility there, raising a half-a-million dollars, and asking his team members to donate the other $500,000, while he personally covers for construction management worth $150,000.
To a very significant degree, running a successful $200 million a year, 350-unit-a-year, 55-employee company since 1989 has served as the launchpad for Walnut Creek, Calif.-based Dave and Lori Sanson to do what they really love doing, which is to build, and raise money, and work to support populations of fellow Californians who need others' help.
"The neat thing is that we do our volunteer work as part of the workflow of our day to day business," Dave Sanson says of he, his wife, and the 55 associates they fondly refer to as DeNovans. "We encourage and allow our employees to contribute charitable hours of their time on the clock, so that they're getting paid, just as if it's a work project as part of our home building operations."
Meanwhile, as Dave champions progress on the Mission Solano Bridge to Life dining hall, Lori is all in in organization and planning of round eight of HomeAid of Northern California's annual "Hope for the Homeless" event, with Air Supply scheduled to top line the event in November, which has raised more than $1 million during the course of the event's seven-plus years.
What's more, Dave and Lori Sanson also committed and completed the major remodel of the STAND! For Families Free of Violence domestic violence shelter in Contra Costa County with in-kind donations of over $250,000 for a 3 phased project over 3 years. They remodeled the Call Center to make it more efficient to handle the 500+ calls STAND! receives each month from desperate women seeking help.
Dave and Lori attribute their habits of giving to having each grown up in families where the parents set the example and held their children accountable to volunteer efforts on behalf of others in need.
"We both grew up in families that instilled the practice of giving," says Lori. "So it was only natural that as we started to see some success as a company, the process was to put some of that success back into the community."
As legend has it, in December 2004, the producers of ABC's hit "Extreme Home Makeover" program got caught in a snag that the Sansons didn't think twice about stepping up to help out. During holiday time that year, the DeNovans rallied to build Martinez, Calif.-resident Jhyrve Sears a new $750,000 home in 4-1/2 days' time, and threw in a $150,000 check for medical and educational support, to boot.
"We saw the amount of passion and teamwork, bonding and camaraderie among our associates, and partners, and supporters, and this ignited a feeling of purpose that hasn't subsided since," says Lori Sanson.
Dave and Lori Sanson became involved with HomeAid Northern California 10 years ago when they decided to support a charitable organization that helped more families and individuals in need," says Cheryl O'Connor, executive director of HomeAid NoCal. "If you ask anyone about Dave and Lori’s role with HomeAid, they will tell you they live and breathe HomeAid."
“The Sansons’ work for HomeAid has been overwhelming and just the most recent in a long history of builders working through HomeAid to give back to the community,” said Peter Simons, CEO, HomeAid America. “Past Hearthstone Humanitarian Award winners such as Bert Selva, Larry Webb, Mike McGee, David Hill and Bob Macleod have all done incredible work with HomeAid to fight homelessness in their communities and across the nation.”
And if you think about it, you realize that it was only a matter of time that the Sansons and the Hearthstone BUILDER Humanitarian Award paths would cross, sooner or later. We'll join many of the nation's leading home builders in honor of the Sansons and their life's work at the Housing Leadership Summit, May 8-10, in Dana Pointe, Calif.