High Fives

OUR STORY

Building Hope And A Future

One Board At A Time

"Our story began back in 2008 when my husband Mark was asked to go on a Medical mission trip to Haiti
through his church. Now mind you Mark had never traveled outside the country before so for him to
just jump right in was out of the norm for him. Mark is a contractor by trade and this mission was
requesting a local contractor to go along to help the team with any type of “contractor duties”. Mark’s
church has been going to Haiti for over 20 years for this medical mission but never delved into any
construction issues before. When the country had a series of hurricane’s they knew they needed to
bring along someone that had construction knowledge. The mission team made up of all volunteers with
medical background and Mark. Mark decided he had better do a little bit of background checking to see
where Haiti was located and find out about this never heard of country that he just said yes to going to.
The country of Haiti is approximately 1888 miles from the United States and is the poorest country in
the Western Hemisphere. Haiti has the highest mortality rate in children under the age of 5! They have
no running water, no electricity! Just a few things he picked out! Mark joined the team and went to Haiti
on a wing and a prayer, not fully knowing what he was about to see. His heart was broke! The utter
chaos, extreme poverty was not what he had tried to prepare himself for. Mark was forever changed by
that first mission. He went back in 2009 and this mission team was to be in Haiti in 2010 when the
devastating 7.0 earthquake hit, luckily they were not. However, the team was able to arrive 3 months
later. This team tried to prepare themselves for what they were about to see this time. For they knew
that things would be bad, however the pictures from the tv did not even give it justice. The devastation
that they saw firsthand forever changed this mission! This earthquake absolutely obliterated the entire
country! The devastation was staggering. Over 300,000 people died and millions of homes were
completely destroyed, and millions of people living under blue tarps. Mark and the team were in
complete shock as to where to even begin. Upon their return home from that trip Mark knew he had to
do something. To try to help rebuild people’s homes. He began contacting every nonprofit organization
for financial help to rebuild homes however time and time again the answer was no. Mark said ,“that’s

fine” “I’ll find a solution”. Mark came up with an idea to take an ordinary 2x4 and ask our friends and
family to purchase and a 2x4 for $3.00 (which is the shelf price) and they could write messages,
blessings to show their love and support for the people of Haiti. One weekend in October 2010 we set
up a 2x4 signing for people to purchase a 2x4 put their support on this lumber and we in-turn would
load these 2x4’s and send them to Haiti and build houses ourselves. What we found out after that initial
2x4 signing event we knew people wanted to help Haiti and find people that truly were helping the
cause. We ended up raising over $50.000.00 from that weekend! We took all the signed 2x4’s and the
monetary donations and purchased all other building materials and loaded into 2 shipping containers at
our local Home Depot. We shipped these containers to Haiti and in April 2011 our mission team arrived
to start building homes (To date we have helped build 13 houses.) After a couple years our funds were
used up and we were able to build 5 houses with those initial funds. One night in January 2015 I was
awaken in the middle of the night. I said “2x4’s For Hope”. Mark said what are you talking about. And I
explained to him we need to take our 2x4 signing concept and help as many people around the world.
As of May 1st

,2015 2x4’s For Hope is a 501(c)(3) global nonprofit organization. We have a Board of
Directors that meet quarterly, 100% volunteer ran. Mark and I work fulltime and are parents with school
age kids. However, our passion is in helping people. When we started our organization, we knew we
wanted to help provide one of the basic essentials in life, shelter. We also wanted to be sure we did not
have blinders on, that when a need was presented to us that we would find a way to help. 2x4’s For
Hope have several initiatives, one was of course helping after natural disasters; for that is how we were
founded from. Also help Habitat for Humanity providing them with our 2x4’s and to One Family One
Purpose who help rebuild homes destroyed after tornadoes, and we wanted to help our veterans.
However, at the time of founding our organization we had no idea how a 2x4 could help a veteran; until
we uncovered a story in Racine Wisconsin where they were building tiny homes in a veteran village to
help combat their homeless veterans. Their group, Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin. We said, “that is it!”
That is how our 2x4 could help veterans! We knew we needed to help them! We wanted to provide
them with enough signed 2x4’s to help them build all their tiny homes. Mark and I called Jeff Gustin
from Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin in Racine to let him know we wanted to help! That was an
amazing conversation with a complete stranger from over 7 hours away. We explained who we were
and that we wanted to offer enough 2x4’s for them, Jeff was blown away! That Memorial Weekend
2015 we set up a 2x4 blitz in 3 locations in our community for people to purchase a 2x4 and put
messages and blessings for veterans. The following weekend we caravanned 7 hours away to deliver
over 1200 signed 2x4’s to the Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin and we were part of their tiny home build
that day! It was awesome to meet so many veterans all working together in Racine to help the homeless
veterans have a roof over their heads! Upon our return home Mark said we need to find another
nonprofit that was doing the same thing as in Racine. We uncovered Veterans Community Project in
Kansas City. We reached out to them as well and offered them enough 2x4’s for them to build all their
tiny homes. That summer we did 2x4 signing events all over and in September 2016 we delivered over
6000 signed 2x4’s! To date we have partnered with 7 other veteran village nonprofits to provide them
with over 14,000 signed 2x4’s! Were not here to toot our horn, Mark and I are just a simple couple from
Illinois that answered the call to help. Along this journey of these signed 2x4’s in our community many
people would ask us when are you going to help locally...last year we were at an event the Blessing of
the Bikes when anther nonprofit director asked us if we would be at his event the Mid America Military
Salute. Mark said, “well, Dave” “I think we have enough 2x4’s, but what if we built a tiny house at your
event and then gave it away to a veteran that day?”. In September 2018 we built our first tiny home

with over 100 volunteers and 100% donated materials and on September 11th our Illinois Army National
Guard moved the tiny home into our city and placed it on its permanent foundation 1029 N 6th. We
presented this home to our first recipient Michelle Roberts a female Army veteran! At this dedication
Mark said, “I think we need to build the 2nd one on Veterans day”, of which was only a little over a
month away! We rolled our sleeves back up and started fundraising and plans were underway. We
received our 2nd Home Depot Grant to fully fund this home and in November 2018 we dedicated our 2nd
tiny home 1027 N 6th to Jonathan Berry a Marine Veteran. As the excitement grew over these home’s
we had a couple reach out to us from a smaller community in Mt Sterling. They wanted to duplicate
what we were doing in Quincy. The momentum continued and plans began on a branch in Mt Sterling
and this past June 2019 we built our 1st home in this small community with over 100 volunteers and
100% donated materials! On July 4, 2019 we dedicated this tiny home to Adam Easterly a Marine
Veteran! Most recently, we built this past Veterans Day weekend 2019 our 4th tiny home! This is our first
“family edition” because this home was built for a single mom USAF Veteran and her daughter. This
home of course had to be redesigned to accompany her daughters needs. The home was funded 100%
by donations, sponsors, businesses along with 100% volunteers that dedicated their time and talent to
make this another reality for a veteran in need of a permanent place to call home! Each of these
veterans either were nominated or they nominated themselves to receive this home. These homes are
given to the Veteran at no charge! Yep, they are FREE to the Veteran! We work with the city
municipalities to be sure the tax bracket is affordable, most the time the lots are donated to us. Each
house we provide very energy efficient lighting, HVAC and every home is fully furnished, decorated and
cabinets fully stocked. We have a simple nomination form and the veteran must not be a homeowner
however they could rent or be homeless, they must either be employed or receive some form of
benefits to pay the utilities and taxes. These tiny homes are a permanent housing solution to the
homeless Veteran Crisis in the United States. Mark and I had no idea the staggering number of homeless
Veterans in this country, it’s absolutely heartbreaking to know that we have homeless Veterans! This is
the United States of America, these Veterans each have signed on the dotted line for us! They pay or
have paid the ultimate sacrifice for us! Mark and I feel that this is the one way we can give back to them
that have served us! It is so important that this is a community project with everyone involved! We truly
want to show the country how we treat our Veterans in this community! This is the heartland of
America and many of our men and women serve our great country! It takes networking, collaboration
and teamwork to make this a reality."

-Chris Lawrence Co-Founder