Make-A-Wish partners with individuals and organizations to make life-changing wishes come true for children with critical illnesses. This isn’t only to bring moments of joy to children who do not have a normal childhood, but research has shown it can give kids the strength to fight and overcome illnesses by encouraging belief in the impossible. For the organizations and individuals who band together to make these wishes come true, wish fulfillment unifies and strengthens these communities, and inspires hope.
The Make-A-Wish mission has touched one of our own. The daughter of our Vice President of Business Development, Craig Richardson, received a wish when she was eight years old. This experience made a huge impact on their family that they still feel today. When it came to light there was a girl named Willie who wanted a playhouse, Richardson had a feeling Contractors Inc had the capacity and the will to realize this wish for her. He met with other senior leadership members to pitch the idea, and was met with an enthusiastic yes. We started planning.
The first step was to meet with Willie, the 10-year old girl with a brain tumor and dreams of an epic playhouse. We asked her to come up with some ideas for how the house should look—and boy, she delivered. We hosted Willie and her family on the office patio, and she came with a very thorough presentation that outlined all the crucial details, with pictures and paint samples. An egg swing and flower boxes were a must. There needed to be a loft with a mattress for daydreaming. Pink pillows and a chalkboard were the requested interior decorations. She presented like a pro, and it was clear she put a lot of time into it. We could tell that the planning process alone was exciting for Willie, giving her something to look forward to. Her eyes lit up as she spoke of her dream playhouse.
Once we had the vision, Dan Moore, a Senior Director at Contractors Inc, took the lead on design. We created a signup and had no problem with people volunteering to construct the playhouse. In early October, Moore organized two four-hour build days off-site for construction. We reached out for donations. Joyce Windows provided the egg swing, Richards Building Supply donated Hardie Board siding and trim, 5th Avenue Lumber gave over half the building materials, and Sunbelt Rentals provided the crane. With these generous donations and our skilled volunteers, we completed the playhouse, which in all actuality was more like a mini house. We started with the floor, building a frame out of 2×8 tongue-in-groove cedar. (Willie specified cedar.) We built the walls, and added a moisture barrier. We constructed a standing seam roof (also in the specifications) out of prefinished white steel. A staircase was constructed inside that led to the loft. A custom cedar door was built, and the whole playhouse was covered in Hardie Board siding. The egg swing needed an armature to support it, so we handbuilt a pergola. Everything but the windows and egg swing were custom built. With everything constructed, it was time to transport the components to Willie’s house. A volunteer from the Sheriff’s office escorted us 30 miles to our destination. Once on-site, the team from Make-A-Wish joined us to construct all the furniture while we assembled the playhouse. We secured the house to the foundation, added the roof, and installed the egg swing pergola. The Make-A-Wish team staged the furniture inside, and then it was time to show Willie her new tiny home!
One of our core values is “giving back” and I can’t think of a better example of living out that value than helping make a child’s wish come true, especially after seeing Willie’s genuine excitement when she saw the playhouse for the first time. It wasn’t just she who benefitted from this experience however. Our team experienced as much, or maybe even more, joy and fulfillment creating the playhouse. Nearly two dozen individuals worked together for two months on the project. Team members across the company got to know each other better, and new relationships were forged, while working on the playhouse. I know all who participated were grateful to be a part of the project.
—Drew Vennemeyer, Executive Vice President
Willie had been at the hospital undergoing testing until about 3:30 PM. Her and her family pulled up, and as she walked around the back of the house, you could see her spirit change. “Wow!” she said. It was all she asked for and more. But the gift was also ours.