Herald-Whig

2x4's for Hope not only building homes, but futures, too

Marcel Wagner Jr., president of the Great River Economic Development Foundation visits with 2x4's for Hope, co-founder Mark Lawrence and Energy Transfer Partners' Lisa Coleman during a donation for 2x4's For Hope from Energy Transfer who operates the Dakota Access Pipeline, LLC at Dick Bros. Brewery on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020. The funds will help the construction of the next four tiny homes for local veterans. | H-W Photo/Jake Shane
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Feb. 7, 2020 12:01 am

QUINCY — The ongoing effort to build tiny homes for area veterans in need received a major boost Thursday.

Dakota Access Pipeline LLC donated $160,000 to the Quincy-based group 2x4's for Hope during a ceremony at the Dick Brothers Brewery Museum on York Street.

The funding will help build four more tiny (575-square-foot) homes in Quincy, plus complete the funding for a partially built tiny home in Brown County.

"This is a perfect alignment of a plan to bring our community together and rebuild neighborhoods, lives and friendships by working together to make a difference," said Mark Lawrence, co-founder of 2x4's for Hope. "Empowering people, changing lives, setting examples and planting seeds continue to produce real results with real people."

Mark Lawrence and his wife, Chris, founded 2x4's for Hope — a local nonprofit outreach ministry — in May 2015. The ministry provides lumber for charitable building projects.

Mark Lawrence, who said "God is at the center" of the 2x4s for Hope program, emphasized the concept is "not a handout, but a hand up."

The idea for 2x4's for Hope began when the Lawrences were making trips to Haiti after the earthquake in 2010. They started seeking donations from friends and family to cover the cost of 2x4s. The effort was so successful they felt called to launch 2x4's for Hope.

The first tiny home in Quincy was built in September 2018

To date, 2x4's for Hope has donated more than 12,000 2x4s to veterans' projects nationwide and helped build three tiny homes in Adams County.

Each tiny home costs about $34,000, with all labor donated. Many of the products required for the home are either donated or acquired at a reduced cost.

Jonathan Berry of Quincy is one of the local veterans to have benefited from one of the first tiny homes in the area. Berry was extremely emotional when addressing the turnout at the Dick Brothers Brewery Museum.

"My life has changed," he said. "I never thought I would actually own a home. I never thought that would be a reality for me.

"(This donation) will help some more veterans own a home. I thank you. I don't know if I can say ‘thank you' enough."

Among the Energy Transfer officials on hand was Vice President Kevin Smith.

"Building stronger communities through local investments is one of our core values," Smith said. "Partnering with 2x4's for Hope is a natural fit for us, as building infrastructure is key to our core business of transporting oil and gas products.

"As a veteran myself, I can speak personally to the importance of veterans in the workplace and their value to our local communities. We are proud to support veterans along our Dakota Access Pipeline route in Illinois by partnering with 2x4's for Hope."

The 2x4's for Hope organization also helps the veterans who are selected for a tiny home with a mentoring program. The veterans who are selected for the tiny homes will move into a fully furnished site and sign a 10-year contract. One of the requirements is they must pay all taxes connected with the home.

Other humanitarian projects the Lawrences have been involved with are in both the United States (particularly in support of U.S. veterans) and abroad, including latrine and water projects in Haiti.

The local 2x4s for Hope has also worked with the Quincy branch of Habitat for Humanity, plus assisted in disaster relief in different areas across the country.

"What an aswer to prayer 2x4's for Hope is," Quincy Mayor Kyle Moore said. "We're building up homes and building up our community."

Information about 2x4s for Hope is available on the group's Facebook page or 2x4forhope.org.

Those interested in donating time and/or funding to 2x4s for Hope should call the Lawrences at 217-617-8500.