Rockingham, N.C., Builders Change Local Resident's Life
In the Sandhills of North Carolina, a place where everyone knows each other, the 40 builder and associate members making up the Richmond County Home Builders Association are recognized throughout the community for their dedication to helping people in need.
Some of the association’s most notable charitable efforts have been focused on Jerry “Punky” Martin, a 33-year-old who was born with muscular dystrophy and can usually be found at the local Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse, Winn Dixie, Food Lion and other stores collecting donations for research on his disease.
In the spring of 2003, when that year’s association president, Mike Ussery and his brother, Pete, visited Punky at home, they found that he had outgrown the one-room handicapped-accessible addition the local builders had attached to his mother’s mobile home almost two decades earlier.
“When Pete and I saw the circumstances he had with the room addition, it was obvious that we had to help out in some way,” said Ussery. “His mother literally could not get him out of the bed unless someone came to assist her. We realized that he needed a room with a lift and the mobile home would not allow it.”
Ussery went back to the Richmond County HBA and told the members that he wanted to build a house for Punky. “We did not have any money, but we had the will, the know-how and the contacts to make this happen,” said Ussery. “There were going to be a whole lot of prayers too.”
In just four months, members of the HBA and their subcontractors — some 50-60 volunteers in all — built a 1,360-square-foot, fully handicapped-accessible home with a new washer, dryer, bed and sofa set.
“They cleared the lot, dug the footing, laid the brick, poured the concrete — everything,” said Ussery. “No one ever asked where the money was coming from and no one asked anything about getting paid.”
In addition to completing Punky’s house, the HBA also contributed $2,000 to the Roberdel Children’s Center, a public school serving Richmond County’s most severely physically and mentally handicapped children.
At the end of last year, the association had another surprise in store for Punky. Through a “Friends of Punky Martin Van Fund” set up at a local bank, Rockingham, N.C., citizens and local clubs were able to make contributions to purchase a handicapped-accessible van.
“The need for the van was quite clear,” said Ussery, who has spearheaded the projects for Punky. “For Punky to get from place to place, two thin metal ramps had to be set up, at a steep angle, into the Astro mini-van that his mother had purchased 13 years ago. It was very dangerous. One slip and Punky could have been seriously injured. He also had to be in the correct angle to fit through the door. It was also very uncomfortable for Punky to travel in the van because the height of the mini-van was too low and his head would rub on the roof.”
Punky and his mother, Kathy, received the keys to an Econoline van in a surprise presentation during a “larger than usual” membership meeting last November.
Compiled from stories by Michelle Anysz, director of communications for the North Carolina Home Buildes Association.
Subscribe Your Employees to Nation’s Building News — and Earn a Chance to Win Digital Camera
Subscribe your employees to Nation’s Building News Online. It’s free, easy and NAHB members who sign up three or more employees will be entered into the "Make Your Business Click" contest to win a digital camera. To learn more or sign up your employees, click here.
Make Your Connection With www.nahb.org
Make your connection to the latest housing industry news and information with www.nahb.org — the official public and members-only Web site of NAHB.
Log in today to register for educational seminars, meetings and networking events; find important economic and housing data; and learn the latest developments in NAHB’s efforts to promote housing. It’s all available to you 24 hours a day at www.nahb.org. Just click the "Member Log In" button to get started.
If you are a member and need information about NAHB products and services, use the NAHB Staff Contact Directory to look up the direct telephone extensions for NAHB staff experts.