Master Builders Association celebrates centennial anniversary with 100 community service projects
Members of the country's oldest and largest building group dipped paintbrushes, swung hammers, hoisted lumber and performed other tasks over the past year to help meet the challenge, known as "100 for 100" of performing public service to marks its centennial.
Special to The Seattle Times
Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish CountiesFounded: 1909 in Seattle.
Represents: More than 4,200 residential construction companies that employ about 80,000 workers throughout the region.
Charitable groups: The Master Builders Care Foundation supports community projects, and works with several organizations that help combat homelessness. The Master Builders Career Connection provides scholarships, training and outreach about career opportunities for students going into the residential construction industry trades.
Information: 425-451-7920, or www.masterbuildersinfo.com
Members of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties set out to celebrate the group's centennial anniversary with a towering challenge: Tackling 100 community-service projects in a year.
"You know, when I first heard about that as an idea, my reaction was 'Wow, can we do that?' " said Jay Schupack, executive director of the Master Builders Care Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the MBA.
The answer was a resounding yes as members of the country's oldest and largest building group dipped paintbrushes, swung hammers, hoisted lumber and performed other tasks over the past year to help meet the challenge, known as "100 for 100."
The charitable punch list included:
• Shelter for homeless families: Using the formula designed by HomeAid, a national effort that builds temporary housing for homeless families with volunteer labor and donated goods from construction crews, suppliers and other partners, the MBA is helping bring two new multiunit housing shelters to the area.
On Dec. 9, crews broke ground on a new duplex in Issaquah for Compassion House, which provides transitional housing, life coaching, job development and other social services for homeless families.
With two three-bedroom apartments, the duplex has a market value of about $400,000 and is scheduled to open in about six months, according to John Day, owner of John Day Homes in North Bend. His company is the lead contractor, known as the builder captain, for the project.
"Everybody basically donates all of their overhead and profit and as much labor as possible," said Day, who served as the 2009 MBA president. "The care provider doesn't have to go out and raise an inordinate amount of money to build these facilities. They can basically build it for half price."
A year ago, Vision House Building B, was dedicated in Renton. Centex Homes led that project, a 7,500-square-foot building features three apartments, office space and a community room that can double as day-care space, Schupack said. It was part of a major expansion for the Vision House, which provides transitional housing and support services primarily geared toward homeless mothers and their children.
"It's vital to provide a place where families can stay as they get back on their feet," said Tracy Cromwell, president of the group's foundation. "Keeping families intact through difficult times is our primary concern."
• Wheelchair ramps: Last May, crews built 33 free wheelchair ramps for people with disabilities and low-income homeowners in King and Snohomish counties, as part of the its annual Rampathon.
Over the past 16 years, the association has built about 275 ramps for disabled residents who can't afford the average $5,000 price tag of a custom-built ramp for their homes. With 465 volunteers, the 2009 Rampathon was the largest to date.
• Educational facility: In July, MBA members broke ground on the new wet lab at Mercer Slough Environmental Education Center. The 474-square-foot facility, designed by Jones & Jones Architects and Landscape Architects, is a $350,000 project where kids will be able to do hands-on experiments to learn about how a wetland environment works.
Known as the Wet Lab 2, the project was designed as a "Built Green 5-Star" project so that it can obtain the MBA's highest environmental certification.
Construction is expected to wrap up by mid-March on the wet lab, which is collaboration between the MBA, the Pacific Science Center and the city of Bellevue.
• Fresh paint: In November, about 120 volunteers helped transform the Boys & Girls Club in Bellevue, as part of the MBA's Painting a Better Tomorrow event. Crews painted the club's two gymnasiums, stairwells, teen center and recreation room.
• Project potpourri: There were other smaller projects along the way, including opportunities for builders to volunteer at homeless shelters once a month, donate to food drives at each general membership dinner and harvest crops at Marra Farm for local food banks and low-income families.
In November, members meshed architectural and artistic skills to create entries for the 17th Annual Gingerbread Village, a benefit for the Northwest Chapter of Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, at the Sheraton Seattle Hotel.
Over the course of the year, the last Friday of the month became a day for helping in the community for the MBA's staff and general membership, Cromwell said. And by the end of December, the association had surpassed its 100 goal by a few projects.
"I think it inspired everybody," Cromwell said. "It's actually kind of neat realizing that you can do something continuously throughout the year."
The projects played tribute to the organization's rich history, Day said.
During the summer of 1909, Seattle was bustling with activity from the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition. Construction was booming. Houses were in high demand; they often went up fast, and were built on the cheap.
That August, five Northwest builders formed an alliance designed to snuff out shoddy and dangerous construction practices.
"Construction was really out of control," Day said. "And this building group got together and decided we've got to get some standards. ... Back in those days there weren't really any building codes."
Today, the MBA represents more than 4,200 residential construction companies throughout the region, and has grown to be the largest local home building association in the country.
One of the reasons that "100 for 100" was a success was because members could donate time and skills in lieu of money for most of the projects, Day said.
"When we ask people to give dollars to some nonprofit, it's kind of a stress," he said. "But if they can wire a whole house, they'll go wire a whole house with $4,000 worth of work, and say, 'Thanks for the opportunity.' It's a great way for our members to give back."
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