Builder of the Year Acceptance Speech

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Perry Bigelow - Spirituality of Sustainability Professional Builder's 2005 Builder of the Year Award Presentation, National Association of Home Builders 2005 International Builders' Show - January 12, 2005

For us, these are a few of the characteristics of communities and homes that are culturally, environmentally, and economically self sustaining.

The Professional Builder article documents our processes and systems that lead to very strong profitability, so I'm not going to describe any of these tonight.

But, I think every builder in this room would be interested in two highly leveraged humanitarian activities we are involved in because they are a direct outgrowth of being a homebuilder.

Number 1. We are national and local supporters of Home Aid, which was created by the homebuilding industry. Home Aid leverages our contributions with those of our trade partners and other builders to create transitional homeless shelters. Remember, about 65% of the homeless are mothers and their children who have encountered domestic violence or temporary financial difficulty. Through Home Aid, builders and their trade partners have already participated in 80 transitional homeless shelters, and there are about 40 more in process now. We as builders have the unique resources, abilities, and networks to literally solve this problem in our country.

Number 2. We donate the net proceeds from one house sale each year to micro lending in developing countries through HOPE International, an organization founded by a builder for builders. A micro loan is a hand up not a handout.

Every year we donate one lot and our overhead and profit on a house built on that lot. Most of our trade partners donate their labor and materials.

Our first two Hope Houses resulted in a contribution of about $200,000 each when they were sold. In a developing country like the Ukraine, $200,000 generates over 5,000 small micro business loans, which generates about 6,000 jobs, which generates economic livelihood and stability for about 25,000 people - all of that is from one house. Now that is entrepreneurial leveraging beyond par excellance.

It is hard for me to comprehend that one small builder and its trade partners can provide economic revitalization and stability for 25,000 impoverished people each year from one house. Our out of pocket cost as a company is the cost of one lot.

We just completed construction on our third Hope House. This is our Tsunami Hope House. Its numbers will be better than the Ukraine Hope Houses.

You can give $25,000 or $30,000 to the Red Cross for temporary relief. That's good. Or, you can use the leverage of one lousy lot to create long term recovery and economic stability for tens of thousands of people who have been devastated by the Tsunami or some other cultural or natural disaster. That's incredible. All from one lousy, glorious lot!

Tell me where else can Bigelow Homes' work affect the lives of tens of thousands of people?

There are not words to express the pure joy and satisfaction that our leaders and employees receive from participating in HomeAid and HOPE International.

In closing, we in the homebuilding industry have a greater responsibility and opportunity then any other industry because we design and build most of the built environment. How we develop and build affects future generations. We must not view our houses and developments as market commodities whose primary purpose is to make money. We have the opportunity and the responsibility to build homes and communities that once again are true to human scale and human pace and that are culturally and environmentally sustaining to our great, great, great, great, great grandchildren.

Finally, I would be untrue to myself if I did not tell you what drives me personally. The Bible has been proven to be historically reliable and true. It tells me that God made me on purpose for a purpose, which can only be fulfilled by living in a loving, vital relationship with Jesus. According to the Bible, God's three great purposes for me are:
to love God,
to love my neighbor, and
to care for the garden.

Professional Builder's 2005 Builder of the Year Award Presentation, National Association of Home Builders 2005 International Builders' Show - January 12, 2005

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