Betsie Russell of Touchstone Title, Wendy Oliver of Coldwell Banker, Cedar Square Homes owners Curtis Payne and Charlie Brenneman, and Cedar Square Homes manager Chris Haughton came to the Greater Severna Park and Arnold Chamber of Commerce with an idea to give back to the community while also marketing their companies. Liz League, chamber CEO, said that after much brainstorming, the group conceived “A House for a House,” a playhouse raffle with proceeds to be provided to the Ronald McDonald House charity in Baltimore.
“We wanted a way to share who we are with the community - a builder who cares about family and prioritizes giving back,” added Payne, owner and president of Cedar Square Homes. “Ronald McDonald House is a great organization and provides such an important service to families dealing with unimaginably stressful situations, and this is something as a company we want to support.”
The adorable white cottage, meticulously handcrafted by Cedar Square Homes, was unveiled at the chamber’s Shop Local Fun Fiesta event in the spring, and again at the annual Severna Park Fourth of July parade. Hundreds of tickets were purchased. Shortly after the parade, Mike Werner’s name was drawn as the winner.
“Cedar Square Homes clearly built the house with love and exceptional craftsmanship,” said League, noting that they used materials used in homebuilding. “It was beautiful and perfectly appointed with little flower boxes under the tempered glass windows, a shingled roof, and hand-painted inside and out. There was even a finished floor inside and a little porch off the front for small chairs. It was truly a miniature house, not just a playhouse.”
Werner said the house was “way too beautiful” to be used as a storage shed, which is what he would have used it for. “I had no idea what I would do with it if I had won,” said Werner, whose youngest child is in high school. “I just wanted to help out a great cause.”
Wendy Oliver had an idea. She let Werner know of Severna Park family members who were recent recipients of the services of Ronald McDonald House, and had a 2-year-old son who might love the playhouse.
“My son, Rex, has a rare medical condition called giant omphalocele. His abdominal wall didn’t fully develop to cover the internal organs,” said Jessica Roussey, Rex’s mother. “I stayed at the Ronald McDonald House in New Jersey for four days before his birth, and then for 49 days after he was born at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia while Rex stayed in intensive care.”
When he heard the story, Werner didn’t hesitate to agree to gift the playhouse to Rex.
“We could not have imagined a better outcome,” Payne said. “This generous action by the winner of the playhouse felt like a home run, and it really brought full circle what we were hoping to do through this entire promotion, which was to give back to the community. Mike allowed this promotion to benefit not only the Ronald McDonald House organization through a financial donation but also to directly benefit a family who has gone through such a hardship.”
Payne said the excitement felt by everyone involved on delivery day was palpable. Werner was on hand to see the playhouse delivered to Rex.
“When I met Rex and saw his reaction to the playhouse, I had a really good feeling,” Werner said. “Donating the house to a family who would love it was absolutely the right thing to do.”
Roussey said Rex has played in his new playhouse every day, at least once a day since it was delivered, and it’s enjoyed by his cousins and friends, as well.
“This gift is so much more than a playhouse,” Roussey said. “It represents all that Ronald McDonald House has meant to our family, and it shows the generosity and kindness of others. It will be a part of our family forever.”
The playhouse raffle raised $14,000 for the Red Shoe Crew of Ronald McDonald House.