Charlottesville-based Building Goodness Foundation begins work on headquarters

Posted on Apr 22, 2015 in Community | No Comments

By Bryan McKenzie

The Building Goodness Foundation has built medical centers in Haiti, a high school in Guatemala and hurricane relief shelters in Mississippi.

Now it’s building something for itself in Charlottesville.

Leaders and volunteers with the Charlottesville-based foundation turned dirt Wednesday afternoon for their first-ever office and headquarters on Carlton Road.

In keeping with its tradition of volunteer labor and in-kind contributions, the 6,280-square-foot building is being built mostly by volunteers, donated assistance from area companies and monetary assistance from donors.

The building will be mortgage free upon completion, saving the nonprofit organization about $37,000 a year in rent, officials said.

“There are some things, like the site work, that we can’t do with all volunteers, but we’re doing all we can through our volunteers and in-kind contributions from donors and companies. That’s going to help us keep our costs as low as possible,” said Jack Horn, of Martin Horn general contractors. Horn also serves as the volunteer coordinator for Building Goodness Foundation.

“This is a real good opportunity for Building Goodness to make a permanent home for its staff and its volunteers,” Horn said. “They deserve a home of their own.”

The new headquarters will feature expanded offices, professional meeting space, tool storage and training areas for the more than 450 volunteers who do the hard work, organization officials said.

Those Building Goodness volunteers travel near and far. Currently, in Nelson County, the organization is helping to remodel the Rockfish Valley Community Center and build an aviary at the Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary. Later this year, foundation volunteers will work on seven area homes and at the Barrett Early Learning Center and Camp Holiday Trails.

Volunteers are also working on schools, clinics, and community centers in Haiti, a Red Cross clinic and a classroom in Costa Rica and they’re working via Skype and other web-based tools to help build facilities in Ebola-afflicted Liberia.

Among local volunteers is Mary Blackwell, who has traveled with Building Goodness to Haiti three times.

“These guys do wonderful work all over the world and here at home, and it’s time they had a building of their own,” Blackwell said. “I believe in what they do. I don’t have a lot of free time — I run and bicycle and have three jobs — but what time I do have, I volunteer here because what they do is important.”

Mike Stoneking, of Stoneking/von Storch Architects in Charlottesville, provided the architectural work on the building, which will be situated on narrow, sloping city lot. The building will have a basement built into the hill and open to the back of the lot, a main floor and a penthouse-mezzanine.

“The site was a challenge from a design point, because you have a limited width to provide for drainage,” Stoneking said. “The building provided a bit of challenge as well. To make it as flexible as possible for training and meetings, they wanted it to be as open as possible. In your house, you have walls that bear weight, but that wouldn’t work in this design, so we had to design long trusses to span the building.”

That’s where Engineering Solutions, of Charlottesville, came in.

“We’re using trusses that are lightweight but strong and really aren’t seen very often in this kind of construction,” said Valerie Black, of Engineering Solutions. “The trusses have wooden flanges — tops and bottoms — with steel webbing to provide the strength and keep down the weight.”

“The trusses also work better with volunteers because they are lighter than all-steel and they don’t require welding,” said Brian Koerner, of Engineering Solutions. “The organization is volunteer-driven and they will have a lot of volunteer labor involved, and this design will work well with the volunteers.”

Staff members are looking forward to having a permanent home, which they hope will be finished late this year.

“Since 1999, we’ve been headquartered in a tiny office and we have to rent meeting rooms to have training sessions for volunteers or for larger meetings, and we’ll be able to do it all in one place, now,” said Sarah Lawson, communications director. “We’re really looking forward to having our own place.”

Bryan McKenzie is the business editor for The Daily Progress. Contact him at (434) 978-7271 or