Of all the houses under construction in St. Charles County one special home stands out.
The 2018 St. Jude Dream Home, benefitting the famed children’s research hospital, will give one lucky family the payoff of a lifetime, while helping save kids facing life-threatening illness.
Volunteers from the St. Louis-Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council started framing the house under a cold, snowy sky this past Saturday in O’Fallon.
“It’s not ideal weather for construction but we’re tough, we’re used to it and we never miss the chance to pitch in on one of these St. Jude homes,” Carpenters representative Paul Higgins said, as rain started to fall on the 40-plus union construction crew from Cheltenham Construction Services.
Built by Payne Family Homes with donated materials and labor, this year’s 3,700 square-foot house, with a value estimated at more than $400,000, features four bedrooms, a second-floor eagle’s nest and a finished lower level.
More than 30 cities participate in the Dream Home giveaway, which sells $100 tickets for the chance to win the house or other prizes. It is St. Jude’s largest and most recognized annual fundraiser.
Founded by actor Danny Thomas in 1962, the Memphis hospital treats 7,500 children each year, most suffering from cancer. Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food.
In almost 30 years, the hospital has given away more than 450 houses and raised $370 million for medical care and research.
“It’s an amazing cause and we always say that if you’re able to do something then you should do something,” Eva Fryar, Payne’s vice president of construction operations said. This marks the fifth year Payne has partnered with St. Jude Dream Home. “It’s given away in September and we start planning for the next house in November. We have just two months off before we start planning, breaking ground and doing it all over again,” she said.
This year’s build is happening under a cloud of uncertainty for the Carpenters and its signatory contractors. Missouri’s governor and Republican-controlled legislature are pushing a “Right to Work” law – a potential blow to the state’s construction unions.
“In other parts of the country that are ‘Right to Work’ they don’t get the whole Dream Home built for free because they can’t get a group like this together,” Vic Hoerstkamp, president of Cheltenham Construction Services said. “Our union carpenters out here today are part of a team, they make a good living and so they don’t mind volunteering their time like this.”
Tickets for last year’s giveaway, which was also built in St. Charles County, sold out and raised more than $1 million. Contestants can start entering this year’s drawing beginning in June at www.stjude.org.