Rebuilding a family

What do you do when your best friend’s family is struck by tragedy? For Steve Staudinger, construction superintendent at Vancouver-based New Tradition Homes, it was a catalyst that brought himself, his employer and more than 50 other local individuals and businesses together in a generous outpouring of materials and labor.

 

Staudinger’s friend, Cpl. Jeremiah Johnson, a graduate of Prairie High School, was killed in Baghdad the day after Christmas in 2006, leaving his widow Gale with two young children. Gale and Jeremiah had known each other since first grade.

The following November, Staudinger and other members of the community formed the Jeremiah’s House Foundation, with the goal of providing Gale Johnson with a permanent place to raise her now fatherless children. The foundation board presented the project to New Tradition Homes in October 2007, and the residential contracting company provided the lot for the home at cost and took on the role of general contractor.

“The owners were excited about the project,” Staudinger said.

The three-bedroom house was completed in June, and the keys were turned over to Gale Johnson in a ceremony on Father’s Day. The foundation raised more than $90,000 for the project and “virtually all of the materials and labor were donated,” Staudinger said.

Now the Jeremiah’s House Foundation is pursuing federal 501(c)3 status and is considering its future. If the board decides to continue the foundation, its focus will be on soldiers’ and their families’ needs.

“We’d like to keep it going,” said Staudinger.

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