Happy homeowner

Bricks & Sticks

by Desi Auciello

Desi Auciello is the 2006 GTHBA President, and is also president of Cachet Estate Homes.

Charity begins at home

Date: August 25, 2006
 
Every once in a while, development industry critics trot out research on developer and builder contributions to political campaigns and make the quantum leap to suggest that developers control the political process, particularly at the local municipal level.

Three things irritate me about these stories.

First, nothing could be further from the truth.

Second, the critics tend to look only at the donor side, not the solicitor. Developers and builders are literally inundated with requests for contributions from politicians, not just for political campaigns, but for charity golf tournaments, charity galas and other special causes. I think it's fair to say that we give much more willingly to the charity events.

Third is the critics' singular focus on our industry's political contributions while completely ignoring our much more sizeable direct contributions to various local charities. In fact, at any given moment, without much trouble, I can cite multiple examples of builder philanthropy.

Great Gulf/Sunnybrook

Great Gulf Homes, GTHBAs 2006 home builder of the year, recently hosted an event to pay tribute to its staff as well as the building trades, suppliers and professionals that helped Great Gulf become the first builder to achieve the award for the second time. Over and above the significant expense of hosting the event, Great Gulf made a $50,000 donation ("in gratitude for the honour we have received") to the Sunnybrook Foundation Department of Neurosciences, with funds being directed to assist children with special emotional needs.

Heathwood/Mikey 

Heathwood Homes was instrumental in creating the Mikey Network, a non-profit organization working to create public awareness and provide education about heart healthy lifestyles. The Mikey Network is committed to placing public access defibrillators in as many high-risk public locations as possible, so people affected by sudden cardiac arrest might have a second chance at life.

Since the Mikey Network was established, more than $200,000 has been raised, resulting in the placement of more than 70 defibrillators in public buildings throughout the GTA.  That amount was recently boosted by the efforts of Mark Longo, son of Heathwood executive Silvio Longo, who bicycled all the way across Canada on a 70-day odyssey to raise money for the Mikey Network.

The fund will grow even larger as Heathwood hosts its annual Mikey Network golf tournament next week.

Mattamy /YMCA

It's hard to keep up with all the fundraising activities spearheaded by Mattamy Homes. Leading the way is its ninth annual baseball tournament, which this year alone generated more than $450,000 for the YMCA of Oakville while creating an intense rivalry among the various building industry teams for bragging rights.

In July, Mattamy CEO Peter Gilgan lead a team of 35 cyclists on the Tour de Blue, riding to Blue Mountain and back, raising almost a quarter of a million dollars (roughly $7,000 per rider) in the process and bringing the two-year total to over $350,000.

In a few weeks, Mattamy will host its seventh annual motorcycle poker run to raise funds for the Children's Wish Foundation. Last years event raised more than $35,000.

GTHBA/Habitat

Our own association recently held a charity barbecue in support of our community partnership with Habitat for Humanity. The event raised $30,000 in one night, a good start towards our $80,000 annual commitment to Habitat as a house sponsor.

 The GTHBA/Habitat partnership has resulted in contributions in excess of $300,000 resulting in the construction of four homes and the leveraging of an even greater amount of material and labour donations from Association member companies.

Southeast Asia appeal

When the tsunami struck southeast Asia in late 2005, the building industry responded to the GTHBAs call to action, donating more than $200,000 in cash within days of the disaster.

Tarion/Children's Wish

Even the regulator of new homes in Ontario, Tarion Warranty Corporation, gives back to the community. Its annual golf tournament this year raised more than $56,000 for the Children's Wish Foundation. The tournament has generated more than $400,000 for Children's Wish since its inception in 1995.

The charity efforts cited above are literally the tip of the iceberg in terms of contributions by builders and developers to the communities in which they operate. There is hardly a member company of the GTHBA that isn't supporting one charity or another, and they're pleased to do it.

So next time you're out on the baseball or soccer field, or at the hockey rink, check out the number of building industry sponsorships. Take notice of the dedicated rooms and wings at our libraries and hospitals, galleries and other cultural centres.
They are all fine examples of the building industry giving something back.

Charity begins at home, and the housing industry is leading by example.