Builder With a Big Heart

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The list of charities John Laing Homes supports takes more than two pages in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to display.

December 01, 2003
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The list of charities John Laing Homes supports takes more than two pages in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to display. In all, 65 entries are spread among the various divisions and headquarters, totaling more than $138,000 a year. "It's part of our culture to give back to the communities where we are fortunate to do business," CEO Larry Webb says simply. "Each of the divisions makes its own decisions."

However, corporate is involved in a few more causes that don't show up on the list we got, which is sprinkled with numerous HomeAid America, Habitat for Humanity and March of Dimes contributions. "Interval House is a series of shelters for abused women and children in south L.A. and north Orange counties that I first helped build a shelter for in 1989," Webb says. "They are special to me. We have a golf tournament every year where we raise over $100,000 for them in one day. That's not all our money. The whole housing industry supports it.

"HomeAid is always special to us. I've been involved with it for many years. Wayne Stelmar is on the national board this year, and he wrote a $75,000 check for them. Wayne's big charity is the Boy Scouts. They have an annual luncheon where they usually honor an individual, but we got them to make it a corporate thing in our name this year. We raised $330,000 at the luncheon. We hit everybody, the whole housing industry. All the other builders were there as well.

"'Do the right thing' is the central value we preach to our people," Webb continues. "It's one thing to say that people matter as part of your vision and values, but sometimes it's something else to actually write a check. Homeless shelters are places where we can have a big impact because they are on the edge of what we do for a living, and we know there are people who slip through the cracks that the for-sale housing industry does not serve.

"We built the Emmanuel House shelter, which we think is the best ever built for Mercy House. It's a 15,000-square-foot, 21-bed AIDS hospice. Mercy House is a series of transitional homeless shelters in Orange County. They'll always be part of our giving."

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