Two local non-profits are coming together to bring history to life, benefitting the community in the process.
Recently, Contractors for a Cause was approached by the Ocean View Historical Society regarding their efforts to build a replica of Hall’s Store — a re-creation based on the general store that “gave rise” to the town of Ocean View. The resulting structure will be a visitor’s center and education center housing local artifacts, a meeting room, kitchenette and restrooms.
“It’s a win-win for both of us,” said Mark Hardt, a charter member of and director of scholarships and membership for Contractors for a Cause, as well as co-owner of Miranda & Hardt Contracting. “We’re both 501(c)3’s. It’s a total giveback to the community.
“The front end of this is going to be the replication store/museum,” he explained, “and then the back end is going to be an event center.”
On June 26, Contractors took their first step in helping the historical society, by razing the garage that once sat on the society’s historic complex.
“Our next big move is going to be in September, with the foundation going in and the building going up. We’re going to have lots of fundraising between now and then,” said Hardt.
The organization will be donating financially to the society, as well as giving at least 200 man-hours to the actual construction of it.
“We’re also going to try to get our supplies, to see the value of this, as far as the community, and maybe get some donations to help reduce the cost,” added Hardt. “They have a pretty large campaign here. This isn’t just the building, it’s the entire infrastructure — the sewer, the water, pavers… This is like a mini-Williamsburg for Ocean View.”
“They’re giving us a great deal of expertise, because they think, for the community, it’s a very worthwhile project,” said OVHS’s Richard Nippes. “That’s why this whole partnership is so phenomenal. We are just thrilled to have them partner with us.”
Contractors is a non-profit formed by area contractors who were looking to give back to the community. The organization has three areas of focus — Helping Hands, which provides disadvantaged community members free services and professional advice in the field of home construction, maintenance and repair; a scholarship for two local high school senior graduates; and the Good Neighbor program, under which the historic society project falls.
“Most of our organization is made up of contractors,” said Contractors President Garth Troescher of Garth Enterprises. “Most of them are in the trade, so they’re very familiar with the kind of stuff we need to do — put a roof on someone’s house or fix a bunch of broken windows, and a lot of people can’t afford it.”
Perhaps the best-known Contractors project is Justin’s Beach House, run by the Justin W. Jennings Foundation, offering families dealing with cancer a respite at the beach.
“Quite often, we’ll do a fundraiser for a specific purpose,” said Troescher.
Some of their fundraising events include an annual golf tournament, as well as a Family Fun Day in September.
“We get local restaurants to donate their time and food. Last year, we had over 550 people there. We held it at the Ocean View VFW. That particular fundraiser, we raised well over $30,000 in one day to help a local concrete guy who had Stage 4 cancer,” said Troescher. “So the money helped him and his family with all the troubles they had to go through and all the bills.”
Troescher said Contractors is currently working with ACTS to build things like handicapped ramps for veterans, mostly of the Vietnam era.
“We do a lot of those kinds of things,” he said. “Mark did a project two years back for this elderly lady. Her roof was leaking; she was living on $700 a month Social Security. Her house was paid for, but she couldn’t fix her roof. She couldn’t afford it.
“When we found out about it, there were literally 30 buckets in the house to hold the water, and the floor was rotten. We fixed it, replaced the roof. Then we went into the house and fixed the substructure. It was all for a good cause, and we felt great at the end because we helped this lady out. That’s what we do.”
Troescher said he would encourage anyone in the community who is in need to apply to Contractors for assistance.
“We would love to have more of the community reach out to us for their needs,” he said, noting all projects are first approved by a committee. “We would like to find more projects.”
Contractors is also always looking for new members, if anyone in the community wants to get involved.
“It doesn’t have to be contractors. It can be anyone who wants to help out in any kind of way,” he said. “I’m very interested in helping and giving back because I’m very blessed for everything I’ve had.”
As for their new partnership with OVHS, both parties said they are very excited.
“It’s just unbelievable that community groups like this are willing to work together for the good of the community. This is a project that will bring visitors from all over the state,” said Nippes.
“Our commitment to this [came from] its history, and it’s something that’s going to keep on giving for generations,” added Hardt. “This is a very good project for us to commune on. The Ocean View Historical Society is very, very committed to this project. And it’s easy to work with people who are committed to a project.”
Hardt added that he hadn’t been aware the society existed until they were approached about the partnership, but he has since learned of their offerings.
“Now I know a lot, and it’s neat learning the history about Mrs. Steele’s chicken house and the post office. They host field trips from Lord Baltimore here so they can see the outhouse…”
Currently, the complex, located next to John West Park in Ocean View, is operating with summer hours and will be open every Wednesday from 1 to 4 p.m., until Labor Day. Adults and children alike will be able to tour the restored 1860 Tunnell-West family home, a two-seater outhouse and water pump, the town’s first free-standing post office, circa 1889, and Cecile Steele’s first chicken house, circa 1923, free of charge.
The society is also in the midst of its capital campaign and selling engraved bricks that businesses and community members may purchase to financially support the building of the education center. They are also working with a grant-writer and received a $100,000 grant from the Crystal Trust Foundation earlier this year.
The society plans to host a house tour on Oct. 7 and an auction fundraiser in September.
OVHS President Barbara Slavis said the partnership with Contractors has been fabulous.
“This is really what gets the whole community excited, when Contractors for a Cause shows an interest!”
“It’s a win-win for everyone and a good way to get the community involved in seeing what we as Contractors for a Cause do, but also make them aware of what’s going on here,” Troescher added of the Ocean View Historic Complex.
The Ocean View Historical Complex is located at 39 Central Avenue in Ocean View. Free parking is available in the Ocean View Town parking lots adjacent to John West Park.
Those who are interested in donating to the Ocean View Historical Society may mail donations to the Ocean View Historical Society, P.O. Box 576, Ocean View, DE 19970. For more information regarding the Ocean View Historical Society and upcoming events, visit www.facebook.com/oceanviewhistoricalsociety. Those interested in donating to the society or becoming a member can visit www.ovhistoricalsociety.org.
For more information about Contractors for a Cause, to donate or volunteer, visit www.contractorsforacause.org/de or call (302) 537-8048.