The dedicated construction crew leading the recovery include Chris Yuko, director of BuildAid and builder partners, James Boone, BuildAid Construction Manager; David Weekley Homes (DWH) Builder Randall Rowlett; DWH Builder Neil Smolik; and Open Door Remodeling Builder Omar Guzman. Beginning in September, DWH Builder Alex Velasquez will be joining the team.
James was the Special Projects Manager and Community Care Manager for the Houston Division of DWH. When asked why he decided to take part in BuildAid's construction team he replied, “I feel we are vessels of God. He is using us to help his people and our communities. I am just being obedient to his Will and being a servant.”
James shared what or who has impacted him the most as a part of the BuildAid team. “There are several people. From our homeowners, vendors, construction trades, GHBA, HomeAid, our BuildAid Team, and everyone assisting with the rebuild efforts. They have all played a part in positively impacting our community. Houston Strong! Experiences with homeowners have also impacted me.”
“Hearing the homeowners recap their stories of survival and how the storm impacted them and their families, is completely humbling. Most were devastated and never experienced anything like it before. Some have used all of their resources and still have fallen short of a full recovery of their property. Others didn’t have extra resources before the storm. Both are so grateful for us showing up to help them get their lives back together. We have been called angels along with other selfless titles. I explain to them that it’s in our DNA to help others. We are here to get their normal back for them after the storm. We are doing just that. Most of the time we have been able to exceed their expectations.”
Randy was a Lead Home Builder in Cane Island for DWH before becoming the Special Projects Manager for BuildAid. He assists homeowners with the material selection process, estimating and reconstruction of their home. Randy explained why he decided to play a role on the BuildAid team. “I have always enjoyed working on charitable projects through David Weekley. When I was offered this opportunity to help people get their lives back to normal I was very excited and honored.”
“The BuildAid team is awesome,” he continued. “The passion everyone has for helping people is our common thread and what makes us such a great team. Hearing the stories from the homeowners, like they thought they were saying goodbye to their homes forever, or even hearing one couple say that they told the rescue boats to leave them because they couldn’t see how they could recover from something like this, made me realize how important our homes are in our lives.”
Neil was a Senior Builder with DWH for the past 12 years. When asked why he wanted to take part in BuildAid he replied, “For a long time, I have been wanting to do something to help people, so when this was offered to me I jumped on it. It is exactly what I have been thinking of doing for a long time.”
Neil handles estimating for the repairs and manages the restoration process to completion. He describes who and what has impacted him the most during his work with BuildAid. “James Boone, with all he has on his plate, vetting the projects and overseeing the construction, James still keeps his focus on why we are here, to help the Harvey victims. He tirelessly does everything possible to move the projects into construction and completion, thereby making the homeowners' dreams come true.”
“Working with the homeowners I have been able to experience what it feels like to lose almost everything. I can't even describe how rewarding it is to see the looks on their faces when we show up and actually do what we said we would do. Knowing that some of them had bad experiences early-on, and then realizing they are putting their trust in us, are the reasons I am enjoying this project so much.”
Omar is the owner of Open Doors Remodeling and had been working for DWH as a subcontractor for 13 years. He immediately saw the opportunity to work with BuildAid using his experience and skill to help other families in desperate need. Omar prepares estimates and helps the homeowners choose from material selections and manages the reconstruction.
“It’s been a pleasure to work with the entire BuildAid team, but if I have to mention just one person I admire and appreciate the most, it would easily be James Boone. He has made an impact on me for his professionalism and dedication to the homeowners. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing the smiling faces of homeowners that one year ago, lost almost everything.”