QUINCY — Quincy-based 2x4s For Hope broke ground on what will become their 12th “tiny house” built to support a veteran in need.
Started in 2015 following a similar effort to help rebuild homes in Haiti, Mark and Chris Lawrence are dedicated to finding ways to help veterans throughout the region. The Veterans Day groundbreaking marks the first step in an ambitious plan for the group.
During his address before Thursday’s groundbreaking, Mark Lawrence said that there are 22 veterans lost every day to suicide. The plan for 2x4s For Home is to have completed 22 homes by the end of 2022.
“We want to take one calendar day off of that statistic,” he said.
The property at Second and Spruce was donated to the group by the Quincy Park District. The land had been given to the Park District as a donation, but it’s not continuous with other properties. Park Board president Roger Leenerts said that discussion with past and present boards led the district to make the donation to the group.
Lawrence said the property will hold two homes.
“This isn’t a housing project,” he said. “We don’t want to see how many houses we can put on a property and say we’ve served the veterans well that way. This is a piece of earth that they’re going to own. We want them to have space, to be able to mow their grass if they want, maybe put in a garden.”
Lawrence said the houses will face one another on the property to make the best use of the space. Each will have a driveway to the back and a small storage shed.
This groundbreaking marks another collaboration for 2x4s For Hope as Quincy Medical Group provided financial support for the home, as well as planning for volunteers to come out for the build days when that time comes.
QMG CEO Carol Brockmiller said this is just the next step in the evolution of QMG’s culture in the community.
“This summer, it was just so evident about our housing need, and we’re always looking for something we can do to help meet the needs,” she said. “We have over 1,000 employees that want to give back. With Chris (Lawrence, 2x4s For Hope co-founder) being a former employee, it makes it that much sweeter.”
Brockmiller said the employees of QMG are eager for opportunities to get out and find new ways to benefit the communities served by the medical provider. She said a comment from one of the other guests at the ceremony summed up what she wants her company to be able to deliver. Kenny Benner is a veteran who is a previous recipient of one of the tiny houses in Quincy through the organization.
“Kenny said four words during his speech: ‘I need a home.’ Knowing that you can provide that for someone is pretty humbling,” Brockmiller said. “So it became obvious that we should work with 2x4s For Hope, the city, and the park district, and help with this project.”
“There’s presents,” she added, “and there’s presence. We do give presents, through different groups and organizations. But our people seemed to want to work together and benefits others. That’s what we want our presence to be.”
QMG presented a check for $65,300 to 2x4s For Hope. Though the construction for the homes on this property isn’t expected to start until June, the Lawrences felt Veterans Day was the appropriate time to hold the groundbreaking ceremony.