The Build Team provides home improvement help for those in need.
Words by Jane Johnson / Photography by Mary Carol Fitzgerald
John Dawson has always dedicated his life to helping people in need and has surrounded himself with friends who feel the same way. As the owner of Dawson Builders, a local building company, John experienced first-hand the amount of people in all types of need. Because of his type of business, he chose to focus on helping people with home improvement needs.
“From a new faucet to a new water heater to a new roof, Dawson Builders funded essential home projects for those who needed the help,” says John, who soon learned that there was a greater need than what his company could offer. After a brief discussion with friends one Sunday afternoon in 2014, The Build Team was established. Now a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, The Build Team grew out of a shared vision of giving back to the community and includes team members John Dawson, Mark Garrette, Owen Heath, Nancy Schumm, and Peter Shaeffer.
“The formation of The Build Team and obtaining our 501(c)(3) status as an organization gave us the formal ability to raise money and really help those in need,” says John.
Since its inception, The Build Team has helped several Barrington area families with essential home repairs and mainly utilizes word-of-mouth to spread awareness of the organization. And that’s exactly how one local woman in need found out about them—through a friend who suggested she fill out an application for help.
As a single mom raising three kids on her own for many years, taking care of a house wasn’t always a priority and was always a challenge—both financially and physically. “We weren’t good at fixing things,” she says. “When things broke, they broke. That was it, and we learned to live without it.”
“Since I didn’t have a veteran or a special needs child in the home, I didn’t think I deserved the help, but I learned The Build Team is looking for people like me who fall through the cracks,” says the homeowner. “Some others have the ability to get help from special organizations dedicated to a cause, but it’s hard for regular people like me to get help. When I got the word that they would love to help me, I was thrilled!”
The Build Team sustains itself through volunteers and donations—both financial and building supplies donated by area stores.
“One of the unique things about what we do is a $1,000 donation is worth $4,000 in services,” explains John. “If you look at the cost of labor and materials, we get 100 percent of our labor donated, and we get many of our materials donated. So, the money goes a long way in helping.”
In this most recent Build Team project, the organization sent about six volunteers to the woman’s home and completely cleaned, repaired, and re-built parts of her garage, which was in need of attention.
“My garage was packed with boxes and junk, so we couldn’t even use the space for anything else. Because my house is very small, the junk started to stack up in my house as well,” says the homeowner. “The crew brought a dumpster, completely cleaned everything out, repaired what needed to be fixed, and got me two new garage doors. I now have shelves for organization, and I can even park my car in the garage. It is amazing!”
“It has been life-changing to have this space now,” she adds. “It’s clean, organized, and safe. The quality of work is impressive. They know what they are doing.”
As a volunteer for The Build Team, you are not only reaping the benefit of helping someone in need, but for some, the projects can be a training opportunity to learn a new trade they may find exciting.
“It’s a great opportunity for someone who is looking for a second chance or looking for a new career,” says John. “Our team has a lot of contacts in the business world and many are always on the lookout for good employees, so if a volunteer has the right attributes and skill set, we can help them find a job.”
One of The Build Team’s goals is to raise enough funds to enable the organization to hire a full-time project manager, who could oversee projects throughout the week, instead of just doing projects on the weekends as they do now. In the meantime, the organization will continue with its mission of giving back to the community.
If you would like to donate, volunteer, or learn more about The Build Team, visit www.thebuildteam.org.
Nancy Schumm, John Dawson, and Owen Heath