Who would have guessed that building playhouses for the past 11 years could generate more than half a million dollars for the homeless of Houston? In 2007, HomeAid Houston, led by Executive Director Bette Moser, launched the first Project Playhouse, a creative idea that was a fun, unique way to raise awareness and funds to build hope and homes for the homeless.
"I had seen the playhouses that were being built for HomeAid Orange County by builders and took the idea to our board," said Bette. "We discussed the benefits of showcasing our playhouse at Minute Maid Park during several Houston Astros’ home-stands where we would sell raffle tickets. We were fortunate to have David Weekley provide an introduction to the Astros’ owner, and the rest is history."
Every year, a Greater Houston Builders Association Builder Captain volunteers to design and build a 12' x 8' playhouse with a theme-designed interior and exterior that captures the excitement and imagination of children from ages 2 to 102. The playhouses are loaded with features that can include air conditioning, electronic game consoles, flat panel TVs, lighting, and other elements that round out the theme. Through the years, the Playhouses have ranged from a country cottage to a space ship; a castle to a dugout; and a train to a replica of Minute Maid Park.
This year's Playhouse was built by Darling Homes and Taylor Morrison and is called the “All American Playhouse” with its purely classic playhouse style, while prominently showcasing the American flag on the exterior. Amenities include air conditioning, electronic game console, flat screen TV and Texas and American flags.
In addition to constructing the Playhouse, the Builder Captain also works with the HomeAid staff to obtain sponsorships and sell raffle tickets. The competitive nature of selling raffle tickets inspires the Builder Captain employees and other GHBA members to see who can sell the most tickets. Tickets are also sold during Astros home games, during June and July. "Proceeds from the Playhouse, from 2007 to August 16, the day we present the key to the winner, will reach over $500,000," Bette explained.
This fundraising initiative would not be possible without the partnership of the Houston Astros Foundation which provides space in the ballpark during 12 - 18 home games, allows for the showing of a 30 second video on their stadium's jumbotron, and provides tickets to the games for the numerous volunteers who come to the ballpark every year to sell tickets.
“We are pleased to partner with HomeAid Houston in support of Project Playhouse," said Twila Carter, executive director of the Astros Foundation. "The creative, whimsical playhouses are always a hit with baseball fans! Our fans have stepped up to the plate year after year to support HomeAid in their efforts to end homelessness. This is in perfect alignment with the Astros Foundation and our work within the community.”
The All American Playhouse was constructed at BMC - formerly Bison, a Stock Building Supply Company's warehouse, and is being finalized for the trip to Minute Maid Park on June 26. This will be the 8th year that BMC is donating their man-power and vehicle to transport the playhouse.
"It definitely takes a well-coordinated and dedicated team to ensure a successful Project Playhouse every year," said Salty. "From the design through the final ticket sale, it is truly a team effort."