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Builders Care, the charitable arm of the Northeast Florida Builders Association, focuses on building ramps and repairing roofs for residents in the area.
Jax Daily Record Thursday, Nov. 24, 201612:00 PM EST

A year-round spirit of giving

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Charity not just during holidays for area Realtors and builders
by: Maggie FitzRoy Contributing Writer

A woman with five children had a severely leaky roof she could not afford to fix.

Four of the youngsters were foster children and if the roof caved in, they likely would have been removed from the only stable and loving home they had ever known.

When Builders Care Executive Director Justin Brown learned of her plight, he knew she had to go to the top of his long list of people needing emergency assistance.

“It’s devastating how many people need help,” he said. “And your roof is your first line of defense. We jumped on it.”

Builders Care is the charitable arm of the Northeast Florida Builders Association. Its mission is to provide affordable or free construction services to people in need, as well as to other nonprofits.

The organization is building a home for a Marine who was paralyzed in a parachuting accident and built a ramp at the home of a mother who became a paraplegic after a truck accident. The ramp allowed her to roll her wheelchair into the backyard to play with her young daughter.

Builders Care’s generosity is not unique in Northeast Florida’s construction and real estate industries.

Philanthropy from Realtors, builders and developers makes a huge difference in Northeast Florida, with a variety of causes and nonprofits supported throughout the year.

Davidson Realty started its foundation, Davidson Cares, about three years ago to help young people in St. Johns and Duval counties.

This past year, they paired up with St. Augustine Youth Services to help support the home the nonprofit operates for boys ages 6 to 18, who are severely abused and neglected.

The foundation has raised $50,000 for the nonprofit.

“We’ve always been very community involved and aware,” said Peyton Davidson, vice president of marketing and social media for the family-owned business. “We really wanted to touch local families in the area to give back.”

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Network Realty raises money to support children through its annual Backpack Challenge, which just completed its 17th year.

Before school began, the firm collected 1,011 backpacks filled with supplies for children, beating last year’s record of 733.

Company founder, president and CEO Linda Sherrer said she was “filled with gratitude” for the firm’s employees and clients for ensuring so many children began the school year with the supplies needed for their success.

Berkshire Hathaway also supports Dreams Come True, an organization that grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses.

With every real estate transaction, the company makes a donation, which in the past three years has totaled more than $150,000.

Many Realtors get involved in philanthropic efforts through the Northeast Florida Association of Realtors, said Communications Director Melanie Green. One of the group’s largest events benefits Haven Hospice.

The Charity Bass Fishing Tournament and Family Fun Day has been held annually for 13 years on the banks of the St. Johns River in downtown Palatka.

To date, NEFAR has donated $346,000 for Haven Hospice to support unreimbursed programs and services for patients and families. The association also has given the agency $25,000 to buy a truck and $26,000 to purchase a large van.

In 2014, NEFAR members donated more than $25,000 and volunteer labor to Daniel Kids’ Independent Living Village to help homeless or abandoned youth.

The group also is an annual sponsor of the St. Johns Housing Partnership’s Make a Difference Day, builds wheelchair ramps for needy citizens through its Realtors Ramp It Up program.

Local builders and developers also support individual company projects.

ICI Homes recently launched a charitable program to benefit Mayo Clinic Jacksonville. The company is developing Tamaya, minutes from the medical facility.

For every sale to Mayo employees or medical professionals, ICI Homes makes a $3,000 contribution to fund research and education at the campus.

Developer Ed Burr, president and CEO of GreenPointe Holdings, founded The Monique Burr Foundation for Children Inc. in 1997.

Burr, who is developing TrailMark, a master-planned community in St. Johns County, created the foundation in honor of his wife, who died in 1996. She was an advocate for protecting children and the nonprofit focuses on child abuse prevention education, said spokeswoman Lynn Layton.

The MBF Child Safety Matters program, which serves children in kindergarten through sixth-grade, helps protects kids from bullying, cyber bullying and educates children and parents about digital safety and child abuse.

The program trains school counselors, who implement it in schools throughout the state.

“We have trained over 1.5 million students in the last five years and 2,200 school counselors, at no cost to the school,” Layton said.

The foundation also launched a pilot program for middle school children, called MBF Teen Safety Matters to prevent child abuse and bullying among teenagers.

Like the elementary school project, it is research-based and aided by funding from a variety of other organizations, including the Attorney General’s Office, the state of Florida, the Mazda Foundation and Community First Cares Foundation, for which Burr said he is “thrilled and grateful.”

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