They traded in their business suits for T-shirts and jeans, their dress shoes for steel-toed work boots, donned hard hats and silenced their smart phones Friday in a Habitat for Humanity of Summit County-sponsored “CEO Build Day.”
The nearly all-day event was captained by Tom Strauss, chief executive of Summa Health System, who invited other local business titans to do some heavy lifting — namely, hanging drywall — to help a deserving family get into their own home.
The initial capital for the two- story, three-bedroom house on a tree-lined street in Akron’s North Hill area is being financed by the Hudson Coalition, which is sponsoring its 22nd house in 25 years, this one in concert with the city’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program.
Rochelle Fisher, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Summit County, was grateful for the participation of Strauss and the other executives: Virginia Albanese, chief executive of FedEx Custom Critical; Anthony Alexander, chief executive of FirstEnergy; Phil Maynard, chief executive of the Maynard Family Foundation; and Jay Griffiths, global product manager at ExxonMobil Chemical.
The executives, in turn, were grateful for guidance they received from Habitat’s site supervisor, Tom Marttala, and Will Yoho.
Albanese, who described herself as a “quick study” when it came to hanging drywall, said she was “just eager to help put a house together for a family who needs a home.”
Maynard doesn’t describe himself as particularly skilled when it comes to construction, but he said he was there, in part, “because a good friend [Strauss] called and because I’ve always been supportive of Habitat and what they do.”
Strauss is no stranger to building Habitat houses: “I’ve done it for our employees. … There’s nothing better than the expression you see on their faces” when the house is finished.
Fisher said she expects the family of three getting this house to move in time for Thanksgiving.
The Summit County organization is part of Habitat for Humanity International, a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing ministry whose mission is to provide simple, decent, affordable housing for people seeking to improve their conditions.
The homeowner must put in at least 350 hours of “sweat equity” — hands-on involvement in the building of the house, which is then purchased via a non-interest loan.
To volunteer, donate or learn how you can become a homeowner, visit www. hfhsummitcounty.org or call 330-745-7734.
Jewell Cardwell can be reached at 330-996-3567 or email@example.com.