Sussex County Habitat for Humanity received a few extra helping hands at its build projects in Georgetown and Seaford April 8. Close to 400 hands to be more specific.
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, based in Milton, contributed its nearly 200 employees to three Habitat sites in Sussex County. As the sun shined bright over their heads, employees from both the brewery in Milton and the restaurant in Rehoboth grabbed hammers, nails, wood and sheaths and worked all day to raise the walls on the three structures that area families will soon call home.
The effort was all part of the brewery's day of service, an annual event that gets the workers out of their everyday routines and into the community to give back. The brewery and the restaurant were shut down for the day so that the employees could take part.
Mariah Calagione, who shares ownership of Dogfish Head with her husband Sam, is no stranger to Habitat for Humanity. For years, her mother has been offering up the volunteer opportunity as a Christmas present to her and her siblings. When it came time to find a community organization to support, she and Sam knew Habitat was the perfect fit.
This is the fourth year Dogfish has teamed with Habitat for Humanity, she said. While Maria was working on the sites in Georgetown Monday, Sam could be found at the Habitat site on King Road in Seaford.
"We wanted to do something where we could get all our people together to do something real, where we could get our hands dirty and see the end result," Mariah said. "As the company's grown, we needed something that would keep enough of us busy. This is great because of all the different tasks that need to be done."
The project is a staple of the company's Beer & Benevolence program, which aims to find creative ways to collaborate with nonprofits in the community.
Sussex County Habitat for Humanity currently has two active build sites in Georgetown Point, one of which being part of the organization's Veteran's Build project.
Mari Ellyn Hellard, a former member of the U.S. Air Force, is the recipient of that home. The house is anticipated to be complete by September, at which time Hellard will move in with her two children.
"I feel so blessed to be a part of this," Hellard said.
This one day of work that Dogfish contributed will save SCHFH 1,200 hours of volunteer time, totaling approximately a month and a half of work on a normal schedule, in the end accelerating the build process that much faster, said Tom Protack, community engagement director for Sussex County Habitat for Humanity.
"We usually have 15 people on a job site on a given day," he said. "Very rarely do we have 200 volunteers on hand all at one time."
Page 2 of 2 - From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, Dogfish Head employees worked at six stations, working on the walls to plating the floor to getting a jump start on the porch.
"We have a great relationship with Dogfish," Protack said. "Sam and Mariah have been wonderful."
The company plans to continue partnering with Habitat, Mariah said, and looks forward to its day of service each year.
"It's a lot of fun for us," she said. "It gives our employees a chance to work with people they may not work with on a daily basis. They really seem to enjoy it."