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RSW Living Magazine

Manatee-Sarasota Building Industry Association and Harvest House Partner to Give Sarasota Woman a Home Makeover

May 14, 2018 11:31AM ● By Kevin
The Manatee-Sarasota Building Industry Association has partnered with Harvest House and more than a dozen other area companies to give a Sarasota woman's home a big makeover. Hicks is a Guardian Ad Litem who advocates for children in court. She will receive a new roof, windows, a remodeled interior and an extra 200 square feet to make the home more spacious to accommodate the children she fosters.

The Manatee-Sarasota Building Industry Association (MSBIA) is a membership-driven networking and advocacy group focused on the needs of the building and development industry and related business in Manatee and Sarasota Counties.

As of January 2018, the organization has more than 500 members comprised of builders, developers, local municipalities, consultants and supporting businesses.

"This gives us a significant voice when addressing issues that impact business and development in Southwest Florida," the website says. "The association is affiliated with both the Florida Home Builders Association and the National Association of Home Builders."

Harvest House, according to its website, is a "housing and homeless services organization that is dedicated to the premise that all people deserve safe, stable housing and the opportunity to renew their hope and dream again. Harvest House is a pioneer in the transitional and permanent housing movement." It is one of the only organizations in Sarasota that purchases run-down apartments to create vibrant, affordable housing specifically for homeless families, and includes stability services on-site. This model is becoming the standard for affordable housing.

We caught up with Jon Mast, MPA, the CEO of MSBIA. He is one of four full-time staff members, handling government affairs and public relations. In this exclusive Q&A, we discussed the Hicks project, Harvest House, and how members of the community can contribute to this and other causes.

RSW Living Magazine: Tell us about the inspiration to help Karen Hicks. What got the ball rolling on this?

Jon Mast: Karen's mother approached one of our members who had built a home for her and asked that we consider doing something for her daughter Karen. Karen is a sheriff deputy, works with Guardian Ad Litem and fosters children. She has a home that is too small for what she's doing and wanted some help for her daughter. That's where that inspiration came from.

One of our members is the general contractor on the project. We've been working through this process for almost a year and a half, maybe a little longer than that at this point. Since then, we've gotten the donations secured, and plans, permitting, etc. It takes a little bit to get something that large put together.

RSW: What's your timeline for completing the project?

Mast: I'd like it to be like the TV shows where it would seemingly be done in a week. Hopefully and realistically, we're looking to finish up by the end of the summer. A big part of our issue is windows, doors, and certain types of materials take a long time. We're in a busy business cycle. We're not going to get windows for another three months. That's going to be at the end of the summer and hopefully is one of the last things we have to get done.

Just this week, they're cutting the floor. We demo'ed the site and the interior of the home three weeks ago. This week, they're cutting the slab, because they have to replace all the cast iron drain lines. The home was built in the late 1950s or early 1960s. Construction back then was to use cast iron pipes for everything. At this point, the lifespan of the pipes is complete. They are all cracked.

So, we have to cut the slab, pull all the old stuff out and put new PVC pipe in. It's got to get inspected and so on. That's what they're doing now. Next, they'll run the electrical wire and framing work. We're redoing the whole house: insulation, air conditioning, appliances, flooring, dry wall, windows ... you name it.

RSW: I see that the Harvest House is collecting donations for the rehabilitation of Hicks’ home. How did that connection come about?

Mast: That relationship started well over a year ago with Harvest House. We, as an association, generally pick a charity group to do things with for several of our events. We chose Harvest House to be part of our outreach at our fishing tournamnet, which is called Sarasota Slam, and happens in August of every year. One of my board members, Lee Wetherington of Lee Wetherington Homes, asked us for them to be our charity of choice. Harvest House will now be the beneficiary of projects like this. That was the natural progression: to see if they'd partner with us for Karen's project, because we don't have our own nonprofit association.

People like to give donations, but also like to do something good for the community. So, instead of writing it off as a business expense, they can show it as a donation.

RSW: How can we help?

Mast: Anyone interested in helping can write a check. We're trying to keep all of the donated items, labor, and specific trades to be membership driven. If the general public would like to get involved, we're collecting cash donations through Harvest House in care of Karen. That's different than the community foundation's giving challenge. It's a direct donation through their donations center.

RSW: What are your goals for the future?

Mast: We will do it again. It takes a lot of logistics to put something like this together. We don't want to start something and not be able to complete it. We'll be vetting other projects. It's great to be able to help people in our community, but we can't facilitate every request, especially when we're doing something of this magnitude. It's not like we're just changing out Karen's kitchen. We're tearing everything down and renovating. She's a very deserving person for it. The work that she has done and is doing makes her somebody we want to celebrate. That's why we did it.

RSW: How has Karen received the project?

Mast: She is a very sweet person and is overjoyed. She's sacrificing, because she has to move out. She's moved out with her children, living with friends right now. We're trying to get this thing done as quickly as we can with the amount of work involved in it. She's been very patient. It's all a part of the process. Hopefully we're part of her family and she's part of ours from now on.

When we did our demo day, Karen and her sister, friends, and teenage children were helping do the demo and clean up. Her friends and family are very appreciative and very involved. When it gets to the skilled side, like people using saws and hammering, laying pipe, and electrical wire, those are all licensed contractors and tradesmen, so the work is done properly.

RSW: Anything else you'd like to add?

Mast: We encourage folks to pay attention to the announcements on social media when it comes up and if there are opportunities for the public to be involved with it. We just want to make sure the site is safe. We don't want liability issues with somebody getting hurt, because it is an active construction site.

Our young building professionals council was very instrumental in organizing the demo day. I want to give them credit there. We have a very active group that's doing a lot of good things. Our board of directors and staff are also great people and great to work with.

Keep up with the Manatee-Sarasota Building Industry Association by following them on Facebook or Twitter. Keep up with the Harvest House by following them on FacebookTwitterYouTube, or Instagram