As the Minneapolis law firm Dady & Gardner approached its 10-year anniversary, the firm decided to forgo a big party and instead it put its year-end bonuses into building a five-bedroom house with Habitat for Humanity.
The firm spent $60,000 on building materials and 500 hours on the project. Firm volunteers and some college students worked with members of the family that would live in the house every Saturday for four months to build the house. The family included a grandmother and grandfather, their son and his wife, and their children.
At a dedication ceremony, J. Michael Dady, a partner in the firm, gave the family’s patriarch a watercolor painting of the house. Dady said the man looked puzzled for a second, and then, realizing the house in the painting was the one he would live in, he smiled and said gleefully, “This is my house; this is my house!”
The firm was happy to build something of long-term value for the family, and the experience benefited the firm as well. The project became a team-building exercise through which coworkers got to know each other better and to see each other differently, Dady said. For example, one of the firm’s secretaries, Patricia Gits, took the lead, teaching him how to do much of the work, such as installing windows, he said.
As plaintiff lawyers, “we help people in desperate need of help, often after others have told them they can’t be helped,” Dady said. Building a house was doing the same thing in a different way—with hammers, nails, and siding, he said. “A house sponsorship like this is not an opportunity reserved for Fortune 500 companies,” Dady added. “We are a 10-lawyer law firm. If we can do this, anyone can do this.”
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