Singing the praises of unsung heroes: Tough economic climate fails to deter progress on two major HBF projects

Major remodels can be a dicey proposition. The Portland Home Builders Foundation finds itself committed to two ambitious remodeling projects in a construction climate not exactly conducive to charitable donations. The fact that these projects continue to move forward is a testament to the generosity, courage and commitment of their builder captains, contractors and suppliers.

Blazer Development’s Rick Lesniak acts as one of two “builder captains” for a $500,000 remodel of Raphael House, one of Oregon’s largest shelters protecting women and children from domestic violence.

“I knew from the outset that this was a worthwhile project,” says Lesniak, who began working on the renovation last summer.  Lesniak has been impressed with the extent to which suppliers and contractors have made good on their commitments, in spite of a severe downturn in residential construction.

His counterpart, Jim Standring of Westland Industries agrees. Says Standring, “I, for one, have been impressed with the number of people who stepped up and gave both time and materials in what clearly is the most difficult time our industry has experienced in generations.”

Lesniak is also motivated by those who reside in Raphael House. “They never complain about the noise, dust or disruption. They are truly appreciative of our efforts.  I have to say, it inspires us to keep going!”

The Foundation’s Cordero House remodel, which breaks ground in just a few weeks, poses an even more daunting challenge.  Cordero House is a community based treatment program providing a safe haven for teenage boys.  The original objective was to simply increase the number of beds at Cordero House, as the highly successful program had been forced to turn away applicants due to a lack of capacity.

But the tired, old 6,500 square foot structure was also in dire need of major repair, a fact that was not lost on builder captains Jim Feild of Progressive Builders Northwest and Mike Arnett of Lifestyle Homes.  Feild and Arnett deduced that a $900,000 remodel of the facility would be required to convert this “facility” into a real “home.”

Feild feels that “donor creativity” has made the difference in an otherwise stingy environment for contributions of expertise and materials.  “Individuals and companies have risen to the occasion to show their support for the project. While the donation may not be what was originally intended, they are still on board with co-op opportunities. The Foundation and its partners are looking for other ways to help, including helping write a grant that got the Cordero House $12,000 worth of kitchen appliances from the USDA. Thinking “out of the box” ensures the success of all us and allows us to fulfill our promises during these times.”

As Mike Arnett so aptly stated, “It may not be as easy to maintain our individual donations and commitments in these unprecedented times, but for those in our industry who are able to stay the course, there’s a house full of kids eagerly waiting the fruits of our giving, whose counseling and treatment will be enhanced and expanded exponentially.  That’s our ultimate goal…helping these individuals move on with their lives, enabling them to make a positive difference in the world at large.”

Never having been known to “mince” words, Feild concludes, “Making the Cordero House a part of what I do this year is still a priority regardless of the adversity surrounding us. We all are busy. My experience with busy people is that busy people get things done. So let’s get this done!”

Major HBF Contributors:

Alarm Access Control Technologies
Blazer Development
Central Air
Farnsworth Building
Design and Planning
Gary’s Vacuflow
George Morland Plumbing
Globe Lighting
JB Insulation
Jim Fisher Roofing
Lakeside Lumber
Lamps Plus
Lifestyle Homes
Medallion Industries
Milgard Windows
Miller Paint
Progressive Builders NW
Red’s Electric
Sports Court of Oregon
Terry Voss Framing
The Carpet Place
United Tile
Westland Industries, Inc.