Editor’s Note: Masonry is a trade that not only creates amazing and everlasting structures, but those in the industry tend to display an overall concern and desire to help those around them. In our new series, Masonry Gives Back, we are going to highlight some of the good work those in our industry provide to their respective communities. If you know anyone who is doing good work through masonry, please email them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to feature as much of the good work going on as possible.
Kent Huntley, of Huntley Brothers Company Inc. based out of Monroe, North Carolina, took the opportunity to talk with us about some of the work that he and his fellow tradesmen assisted with in North Carolina as part of a project that was sponsored by the St. Jude Foundation. The Foundation raises money for the hospital by constructing a house using donated labor and materials. In previous years, the homes that are given away have raised over $1 million in ticket sales. The funds go directly to support the mission of St. Jude, which is “to advance cures, and means of prevention, for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment. Consistent with the vision of our founder Danny Thomas, no child is denied treatment based on race, religion or a family’s ability to pay.”
A friend of Kent’s grandson, Ellis Snyder, had been diagnosed with leukemia, and anywhere from 50-200 people showed up to assist with the construction of the house in any way they could. Huntley Brothers came in and installed the masonry foundation of the home. Additionally, they’ve assisted with installing the brick veneer. They aren’t the only ones who have come out to help though, and at least 80-100 additional masons and helpers jumped into the project. All of this was done free of charge out of the desire to help those around them.
“We think [the work] is important and it’s something everybody has to do. You can’t just keep taking, you must give back,” Kent says about the work. Help they did. With over 100 masons coming in from an estimated 15-20 companies, work that would normally take three to four days was completed in about two hours. Kent estimates the brick veneer portion of the house took about 3-4 hours, as opposed to what would normally take 10 working days to complete.
“I see folks that are in need, and need this help and it’s the least I can do. It’s pretty cool that I can go and help using my hands. Sure, St. Jude will take donations and it’s nice to give monetarily, but it’s pretty cool to see this type of project. You see all these masons are out there for one common goal. They’re not out there for themselves. Obviously it’s a Saturday, they have other things they could be doing. But they’re out there to give, and it just humbles you that other folks have gone through so much, the least I can do is go give with something I can do with my hands.
It’s a feeling I can’t describe, it’s our whole community that comes together. There are probably communities across the country that are doing the same thing. I was always taught that when someone’s in need, you help. I know masons are not glamorous folks, but there’s a lot of things you can do to help. If you just look around, there’s always some way you can help.”
As for why he feels all masons should give back, Kent keeps it simple. “We all obviously live in a community, and we can help give back to that community. For one, it strengthens our trade. Two, it helps show other people all construction people aren’t bad. Three, when I go back and look at it, I can actually see what it’s accomplished. Folks can ride by and say, “that was donated and it’s going to be there to stand the test of time.”
“I think if you just obviously join your association with your national chapter, then your local chapter if you have it. Through that, most of those folks know who they can be pointed to, to help out.”