PWB Playhouse Project – A Journey of Impact
In October 2022, I was visiting The Dominican Republic on a Homes for HOPE Vision Trip to meet some of the incredible people HOPE has the privilege of serving in that beautiful country. I was inspired when I met Oleida who started out with a loan of $140 to open a convenience store more than a decade ago. After faithfully growing her business over the course of 10 loan cycles, she is using her current loan of $2400 to build a house for her family in a safer location. Her new community has no convenience stores to meet its needs, so Oleida is building a storefront onto her home! Her plan is to move her store to her home and rent out the current space she owns to another business owner. This will provide passive income for herself and her family! Oleida is a savvy businesswoman who’s not only employing people in her community to build her home but is also providing opportunities for others to open businesses just like she did after receiving her first loan!
This story was fresh on my mind the next month while representing Homes for HOPE at Roland Nairnsey’s Tropical Sales and Management Retreat. While manning our booth, my colleague and I met Amy Druhot, Vice President of Sales at Eastwood Homes. The mutual excitement was palpable as she shared her passion for investing in women entrepreneurs. It only grew when we told her that over 70% of the people HOPE serves worldwide are women working hard to provide for their families. I shared Oleida’s story with her, and Amy started to formulate an idea for an all-women-built playhouse (modeled after Oleida’s new home with a storefront in it) that people could enter to win, and all proceeds from entry fees would go to support the mission of Homes for HOPE!
“My heart felt so tied to the work of Homes for HOPE. I see so much of myself in the women that HOPE serves!” – Amy Druhot – VP of Sales, Eastwood Homes
In September of 2023, after following up occasionally throughout the year, the ethereal idea thrown around at an event booth started to gain momentum and become a reality. Amy introduced us to Shannon Amerson from the Home Builders Association of Richmond, VA, and some other key leaders from their fledgling yet powerfully influential Professional Women in Building chapter. As we cast vision for the project together, skepticism turned to determination, hesitation turned to tears of camaraderie, and strangers turned to friends, champions, and advocates.
People stepped up in so many beautiful ways to contribute to this project! Byerly, an architect, drew the plans to mimic Oleida’s inspiring story. Local vendors generously donated high-quality materials and offered tools for the women to borrow to build the playhouse. Erin put together legal documents to protect everyone involved, and her husband volunteered to deliver the playhouse within a 100-mile radius of Richmond, VA! Countless PWB women participated in the build and promoted the project to their networks and beyond. Stony Point Fashion Park gave us a space to display the playhouse, and local news stations did reports on the project.
“There were several stages of the build I literally cried. Thank you again for this opportunity, words cannot express how grateful I/we are to be partners in this project with Homes for HOPE.” – Shannon Amerson – VP of Operations, HBA of Richmond, VA
Three PWB-RVA women, Sascha, Cyndi, and Tonya, went on the Homes for HOPE vision trip to the Dominican Republic in October of THIS year to see for themselves our mission firsthand in the field. They came back overflowing with meaningful memories.
“The Homes for HOPE Trip was incredible!!! All of the people we met shared their experiences and the ways that HOPE has lifted them up and provided opportunities (and support) that they wouldn’t have otherwise. We experienced the warmth of the Dominican people and saw the impact this organization makes in their lives that ripples throughout their family and community! There is no way to go on that trip and leave unchanged.” – Sascha Elliot – Sales Manager, RCI Builders
Please watch this stirring video that beautifully captures the spirit of the Professional Women in Building Homes for HOPE Playhouse Project.
But the story doesn’t end there. Hundreds of people purchased entries to win the playhouse, which will enable HOPE to serve 355 families living in poverty around the world in 2024! Tim Parent, the Market President at Craftmaster Homes, Inc., was the lucky winner at the drawing on 12/15/2023. Amy and her team called him to be sure, as a building industry executive, he actually wanted to win the playhouse, or if he had just wanted to support the mission of Homes for HOPE by making a donation. He shared that he did want to accept the playhouse because he, in turn, wanted to donate it to one of the families served by ASK Childhood Cancer Foundation. The HBA of Richmond has been serving alongside that incredible organization for more than a decade, and what a moving conclusion to this project’s journey as a family walking through childhood cancer can “make life a little better” as they play together and enjoy a lovingly handmade playhouse that’s unlike any other.
As we look to the future, 17 other PWB groups across the country and 1 in Canada have already told Amy they’re interested in doing their own Homes for HOPE Playhouse Project in 2024! And Amy will be joining me and other building industry professionals in The Dominican Republic in February 2024 for our Homes for HOPE Vision Trip where, Lord willing, they too will get to meet inspiring entrepreneurs like Oleida face to face. We can’t wait to share their stories with you!
For more information or to partner, please contact Matthew Baehr, Executive Director of Homes for HOPE, at email@example.com.