Families gather at a “move-in” ceremony in Monroe, Wash. Photo courtesy of Housing Hope.
In my eight years at Reid Middleton, I have gone through my morning routine many times. Given vacations, holidays, sick days, and the occasional all-nighters at the office – my math puts it at about 2,000. While I have had many a ‘day at the office,’ there are a few in particular that stand out as having a greater significance than most.
One of those days was when Housing Hope’s Senior Housing Developer, Todd Bullock, called me asking about designing local homes for them. Reid Middleton had done some work with Todd on a Habitat for Humanity home several years ago. Todd was looking for some structural engineering help for a group of homes planned for a new housing development in Monroe, Wash. The homes were to be a part of Housing Hope’s Team HomeBuilding program.
Housing Hope is a local non-profit organization whose vision is that, “every individual aspiring to self-sufficiency should have access to a safe, secure, affordable home.” They work toward this vision with innovative solutions that empower those they help. The Team HomeBuilding program is one of those innovations.
The program builds new single-family homes in groups. In the case of the Monroe development, it was 14 homes for the first of three phases. Housing Hope starts building when they have enough families to fill each slot. The families build their homes together as a community, and everyone moves in once the final home is completed. The families put 30 hours per week of sweat-equity into their homes, sign a mortgage, and enter into self-sufficient home ownership.
Having a good friend who works as Housing Hope’s philanthropy manager, I was familiar with this unique program… and excited at the prospect of being a participant! I approached senior leadership within Reid Middleton and requested permission to offer our services for this project at a significantly discounted rate. To my pleasant surprise, I was given permission to offer our services pro-bono.
After that moment, the project progressed as most do. We had a project team – Sabina Surana and me. There were challenges, and there were exciting puzzles to work out. There were many phone calls, emails, and conversations. There was some math, and there were sketches drawn. It was like many other projects and, as the design closed out, it slowly faded into the background like any other project does at its completion. That is, until February 9, when I noticed a front-page article on the Everett Herald newspaper with the title “Monroe Families Move into Homes They Helped to Build.” It was an article about the move-in ceremony for the families whose homes we had designed nearly a year before.
In the article, there were pictures of families – all smiles, excited to move into their new homes. The article described giggling children and a large crowd on-hand to celebrate with the families. As a father of four children, I was struck by the impact these programs can have on the life of a person. In that moment, I was reminded how thankful I am to be working for Reid Middleton. It is a firm that cares enough about its employees to support them in their pursuit of things they are passionate about… a firm that cares enough about the community to be involved.
It was one of those few days that started like many others, but ended up being remarkably memorable.