For a dozen years, from the middle of the last housing recession to today, the Hearthstone Builder Award Foundation has honored industry executives who have given back to their communities a good portion of what they have received.

This year, first-place James Z. Pugash awards were given to two industry leaders who have continued to contribute mightily to worthy community causes even as their own businesses suffered from the severe housing downturn—Mori Hosseini, chairman and CEO of Florida-based home builder ICI Homes, and Robert McLeod, chairman and CEO of California–based developer Newland Communities.

Giving = Community

Newland builds communities through charitable giving.

Robert McLeod

Founder and CEO

Newland Communities
Courtesy Newland Communities Robert McLeod Founder and CEO Newland Communities

Newland Communities’ slogan may be “The Heart of Great Living,” but it just as easily could be “The Heart of Great Giving.” Contributing to the community has been that much a part of the company’s core values since its founding in 1987.

“Its growth has been guided by core values of caring, commitment, and integrity,” HomeAid America’s CEO Jeffrey A. Slavin wrote in its nomination of Newland for the Hearthstone Builder Humanitarian Award. “These core values guide not only its development activities, but also its approach to giving back to the local communities within which it develops.”

Since 2005 Newland has raised more than $500,000 to benefit the homeless through HomeAid.

Nationally, Newland has raised nearly $1 million in the past few years to benefit charities that help children in need through annual Life is good Pumpkin Festivals in conjunction with the Life is good company and the Life is good Kids Foundation.

Jim Laughlin, director of communications for the Life is good Foundation says that in 2006 the organization worked with Newland to put the festivals in 15 of its communities in seven different states, lighting up the neighborhoods with lit pumpkins.

Coast-to-Coast Jack-O-Lanterns Lit pumpkins filled 15 Newland communities in seven states for a fundraiser.
Courtesy Newland Communities Coast-to-Coast Jack-O-Lanterns Lit pumpkins filled 15 Newland communities in seven states for a fundraiser.

“They are like-minded leaders with big visions and big hearts,” Laughlin says of Newland. “We felt that we were like-minded in the spirit of trying to rally good people around a great cause.” In addition to HomeAid, money from the Life is good festivals went to Project Joy which works to help children overcome early childhood trauma.

More often, Newland’s charitable donations are local rather than national.

“We let every community sort of do its own thing,” says Newland founder Robert McLeod. “They pick a charity and go forward and give money as a community, and, of course, as Newland we would be helping them along with that.”

Newland does favor a few types of charities. “We would like to have them do things in support of education, or the arts, sustainable development and environment, and community outreach,” McLeod says.

Miracle Home Kids help with the construction of a Children's Miracle Network home.
Courtesy Newland Communities Miracle Home Kids help with the construction of a Children's Miracle Network home.

And the donations include more than cash from Newland. “In each community in which it is active,” wrote Slavin in the nomination, “Newland team members give of themselves to support local causes through service on the boards and committees of local charities and the regional arms of national organizations …. They serve as counselors to the young, advisors to the needy, and experts to the disadvantaged,” Slavin added. “We learned years ago that people love to give back,” McLeod says.

Some other recent charitable events in Newland communities include: The Charity of Your Choice Walk in Sugar Land, Texas, a home for the Children’s Miracle Network in Washington, and a road race for a scholarship fund in Tampa, Fla.