Photo credit: Habitat for Humanity International
Photo credit: Habitat for Humanity International

Today, the editors at BUILDER and our partners at Hearthstone invite you to nominate a candidate for a coveted annual honor, the 21st annual Hearthstone BUILDER Humanitarian Award.

Each year we honor a home builder who demonstrates a lifetime commitment to public service. Recent honorees include Hayden Homes' Hayden Watson, Oakwood Homes' Pat Hamill , DeNova Homes' Dave and Lori Sanson, and Christopher Gaffney of Toll Brothers.

Hayden Watson relaxes in the kitchen of one of his firm's model homes.
Robbie McClaran Hayden Watson relaxes in the kitchen of one of his firm's model homes.

To enter your nominee, simply click here for a writable PDF entry form, and email it to BUILDER editor Jennifer Lash at [email protected].

Nominees must be for-profit, single-family builders or lot developers. They may be individuals or companies, employees or owners. Builders may nominate themselves or be nominated by other builders, charities, nonprofit organizations, or government organizations they have helped. Special recognition will be given to employees of building firms, in addition to owners.

A cash award will be donated to the winning builder's nonprofit charity or community service organization. The winner and their charity will receive national coverage in BUILDER magazine, our newsletters, and on our website.

Deadline for nominations is Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. Again, to enter, click here.

More on this in a moment. However, here's why this call for entries matters to you, in your firm, and in your business culture.

It's a sad reality, but not one we need to nor should we accept as a given.

Only one of us in five feels "good at work," when "good" is defined along the lines of

  • Passionate
  • Excited
  • Motivated
  • Satisfied
  • Proud

Moreover, according to this same PWC analysis for the Harvard Business Review, entitled "Why Are We Here?" only one in three of our associates feels fully connected to our organization's purpose; just two in five clearly sense the value they're creating; and only one in five feels his or her job brings out their best in talent, effort, and performance.

This is a current situation assessment among the HBR's survey respondents, and this is sad, and it's a profoundly clear barrier to a firm's ability to achieve its mission.

But the data, HBR says, illustrates that leaders can turn the tables on this sad state of things.

Through purpose. Purpose fuses corporate goals with individuals' goal to be the best contributor, participant, and person he or she can be in a job.

Purpose puts people together to solve problems that an individual may not conquer by him or herself. Together, they make a difference.

This came to mind as former US president Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn showed up to work on a site Oct. 6-11, in the north Nashville, Tenn., neighborhood of Park Reserve, for the 36th Carter Work Project, a Habitat for Humanity incarnation of the power of purpose.

The 2019 project in Nashville began with a rousing sing-a-long of the hymn, “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.” It ended with 21 families encircled by a former president and first lady and the hundreds of volunteers who had come from all over and all walks of life to help them build their houses and support their dreams.

“Without a home, you don’t have a place to put your dreams,” says Holly Eaton, a volunteer on 22 Carter builds around the world who hopes to keep her place in the circle on next year’s Carter Work Project. “We are building dreamcatchers.”

Carter, 95, and sporting a shiner, 14 stitches and a bandage over his left eye after a fall that occurred at home in Plains, GA, on the eve of the Habitat build, said a little bump wouldn't prevent his and Rosalynn's plan to build just a little part of each of the neighborhood's 21 new homes. Nashville Tennessean staffer Jessica Bliss wrote:

"We’re here tonight due to a path of generosity and service and selflessness," [Tennessee Governor Bill Lee said ... "A path that was forged by President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn."

Jimmy Carter is known to many as many things. Peanut farmer, Nobel Peace Prize winner, governor, President, cancer survivor, international diplomat, humanitarian, etc. All the while, it's another skill-set, his commitment to carpentry, that has mattered these past four decades as a singular focus of human purpose. Wall Street Journal writer Douglas A. Blackmon reported way back in 2008:

"Mr. Carter has become more and more expert at making furniture, relying on his training in nuclear engineering to draft detailed plans for each piece and seeking out advice and inspiration from some of the world's most notable woodworking artists. Mr. Carter also collects hand tools in his travels around the world.

Each summer, Mr. Carter begins conceiving the piece he will make for the annual auction. He started work on the bench last fall, using an altered version of a bench design he created years ago.

"It's a very meticulous design. It has to have exactly the right angle on the back support," he said. "I particularly like this design...a monolithic seat six feet long or so, and the back is put on with dovetail joints....It's very strong and will hold up everybody who could possibly sit on it."

The former president started with two big pieces of maple sent to him by an admirer. He cut the wood into pieces of roughly the size he needed for each component of the bench, then glued together the two largest sections of maple for the seat. He used his planing mill to give the wood a consistent thickness, then undertook the weeks-long task of chiseling, carving and sanding the wood into a concave shape comfortable to sit on. "It took a lot of time. Whenever possible I like to use hand tools," Mr. Carter said.

Mr. Carter turned the legs of the bench on his lathe. To attach the back of the bench, he used mortise and tenon joints to create a frame that appears deceptively delicate but is extremely strong.

"It's a very good and solid and tough design, but also very beautiful," Mr. Carter said. "I hope that 500 years in the future, somebody will be sitting on the bench [saying], 'A president made this bench.' I hope it will be a source of pride but still in use."

Now, here's the thing.

Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn Carter show up at a job site these days in 2019, and for all that this means to the 21 families who'll now get access to safe, decent, healthy homes in north Nashville's Park Reserve, their presence and their voices and their work on that site matters exponentially more.

What the Carters do--and have done for 36 years running--is to ignite a sense of purpose for all of Habitat and its partners and sponsors and workers and supporters, and for builders of homes, both on and offsite, everywhere. Once they kindle that sense of purpose, a daisychain of good things sets in motion.

Credit: Habitat for Humanity Internatioinal
Credit: Habitat for Humanity Internatioinal

By showing up and doing the work--putting hands on the wood and giving their time, efforts, care, and brains to bring people homes--they trigger the butterfly-effect that home builder generosity and humanitarian efforts are so well known to do. We've seen this butterfly-effect with our Hearthstone BUILDER Humanitarian Award-winning alumni, stretching back, now into a third decade.

During that time, Hearthstone itself has donated more than $6 million to charities named by our honorees--programs that, like Habitat and HomeAid America, Homes for Heroes, Built to Honor, and Covenant House, give people who need it access to a safe, healthy, home, and like so many other worthy causes, reach people here and abroad with a helping hand. A kind face, like that of Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, and a heart full of love, and yes, purpose.

And what our honorees, who themselves have donated in the tens of millions of dollars in money, and time, and their own efforts, and what Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter have all struck on is something almost magical in its powers.

That is that the people who need help are not the only beneficiaries of these efforts.

Equally important, it's the people the Carters and our Hearthstone BUILDER Award honorees draw into the efforts, the associates, the friends, the supporters, and the partners, who stand and work side by side, who join in the endeavor, who give their time, and their money, and their skills to help, to team up, and to change a life here, a neighborhood there, a community, a city, and a world. They, too, are direct beneficiaries of these charitable initiatives. They become the workers, the executives, the fellow citizens, the people they want to be.

They--thanks to the butterfly-effect of people like Jimmy and Rosalynn and like our Hearthstone Award winners--get the rare gift of purpose.

Enter your nominee for the 2020 Hearthstone BUILDER Humanitarian Award by clicking here.