Contractors for a Cause expanding into Worcester County
For more than half a decade, a group of contractors and builders in the Sussex County area have deliberated upon ways they could use their talents and intellect to better the community. Through fundraising efforts, donations, memberships, sponsorships and volunteering, the collection of individuals formed Contractors for a Cause (CFC), an organization that devotes itself to bettering the community its members serve.
CFC, officially founded in 2008, has accomplished a number of goals they set in Sussex County, with more on the horizon, but as Jim Kyger, owner of Allstates Construction and one of the co-founders of CFC, asked, “Why stop there?”
Kyger led a luncheon last month at the Carousel Hotel in Ocean City, Md., on behalf of CFC (a 501(c)3 non-profit group), announcing the opening of a second chapter of Contractors for a Cause that will service the Worcester County and Ocean City area of Maryland.
“Our mission statement,” Kyger said, “is to make a difference in the community by identifying the needs and fulfilling those needs through donations, fundraising and volunteer efforts. Basically, we’re good contractors doing good things for good people.”
Among the CFC’s most notable “good things” has been the financing and construction of Justin’s Beach House, a Bethany Beach-based respite home for families afflicted by cancer, providing them with a week of relaxation and tranquility away from the stresses and pressure of medical treatment and health-related issues.
The home, which was completed in 2010 and saw its first visitors ring in the 2011 new year, was a dream of Craig and Mary Ellen Nantais, who lost their son, Justin Jennings, in 2000, in his battle against brain cancer. His love for the beach has now become a feeling that many families who endured the same struggle can appreciate and enjoy, as well.
Perhaps Contractors for a Cause is so closely related to Justin’s Beach House because of the home’s tangible presence, resting along Route 26 in Bethany Beach, its pastel colors and oversized Adirondack chair greeting locals and visitors alike. But, as Mike Cummings – owner of Miken Builders and another co-founder of CFC – stated, there’s much more to the organization.
“Contractors for a Cause does so much in this community,” he said, “and we’re blessed with so many great individuals and companies throughout the area. But we do a lot more, too.”
With the operation of Justin’s Beach House now being fully overseen by the Justin W. Jennings Foundation – a not-for-profit organization started by the Nantaises – CFC continues its support for that cause, but also balances their time through local communities with plenty of other contributions to other worthy causes.
Already, the CFC’s Legacy Scholarship provides two high-school students who plan to pursue a career in or affiliated with construction, with a $1,500 scholarship each.
The Contractors’ Helping Hands program is their newest project, focusing on helping out neighbors who require assistance due to income or health restrictions. Projects including constructing wheelchair ramps, repairing or replacing hazardous floors, doors or windows, and modifying an existing residence to accommodate disabled occupants are all ways the CFC gives back through Helping Hands.
These charitable gestures are made possible through donations, sponsorships and memberships, but are chiefly the beneficiary of the CFC’s ongoing fundraising efforts. Events such as the organization’s Spring Gala, a Delmarva Shorebirds outing and the Golf Classic – held each fall at Cripple Creek – have helped over the years to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars that are being given right back to the community.
But, as Kyger and Cummings both reiterated, the CFC is an organization that accentuates the talents of individuals.
“We’ve had many people come up to us and ask us to write them a check,” said Cummings, “but that’s not what we’re about. We will help put together fundraising efforts, but we want to utilize the special skills that we possess. We want to better the lives of people through our talents and our trades. We’re not just here to hand out money.”
“Through our Good Neighbor Fund,” said Kyger, “we can budget $10,000 a year, now that we’re established, but we don’t just write off a check. We assess the costs of home repairs or maintenance, and we figure out how we can help these individuals or families. Our entire board of directors analyzes the ways we can give back through what we do. We’ve got some very talented members and an incredible board, who all have a knack for taking a quarter and turning it into a dollar.”
Noting the Contractors’ success in lower Delaware, Kyger has already seen a need for the organization’s expansion into Maryland.
“I have been approached by several groups in the Berlin and Worcester County areas,” he said. Groups including Diakonia, a non-profit organization that provides emergency and transitional housing for guests, and Worcester Family and Youth Services, have voiced their concerns, highlighting the benefits that a service like Contractors for a Cause would bring to that area. “There is a power in numbers,” said Kyger, “and together, we can do a lot as contractors and associates to help the Worcester County community.”
He added that, in the near future, he hopes to connect with local builders in the Ocean City, Berlin and Snow Hill areas, as well as other businesses and organizations that can offer other donations or volunteer their time with Contractors for a Cause.
This weekend, the Contractors for a Cause will hold its free Basic Home Maintenance Workshop for Women, explaining do-it-yourself tips and ideas for women to shape up and fix their homes. It will include topics such as toilet tanks, squeaky doors, weather-stripping and more. The workshop will be held on Saturday, March 10, from 9:30 a.m. until noon at Betterliving Sunrooms, located at 32442 Royal Boulevard in Dagsboro, at Clayton Crossing, next to Mediacom. Coffee and pastries will be provided, as well as daycare services.
For more information about the workshop, call (302) 537-4444. For information on the CFC organization, including details to become a member, volunteer or a sponsor, visit www.contractorsforacause.org, or call (302) 537-8048.