The Custom Builders Council recently embraced a new construction project in Brookshire, Texas through a newly developed relationship between Allen Griffin, president of Gryphon Builders, and Dennis Turnipseed, director of Eyes On Me (EOM) Ministries, a faith based ministry that exists to mentor, disciple, and serve at-risk youth and their families. EOM has a presence in, Sunny Side, Forum Park, Greenspoint and in Brookshire at The Hangar Unity Center located off Velasco Road.
The two met on a mission trip to Alaska in 2019, to remodel a pastor’s bathroom in three days. There, Dennis and Allen got to know one another and Dennis asked for Allen’s assistance with the old school property in Brookshire that EOM had acquired. Over the years Allen has assisted EOM with consulting on the improvements they were making to the building to become “The Hangar Unity Center” a structure that resembles an airplane hangar.
A Workforce Program is Born
Conversations between them focused on how they could offer workforce skills training, a passion for both Allen and Dennis. As chairman of the CBC last year, Allen felt that community outreach and charity programs should be focused on the trades training programs that are in the area, so this met that goal. Because of his involvement in the industry and on the GHBA Workforce Committee, he assisted them with getting connected to the Home Builders Institute (HBI), HomeAid Houston’s WORKS program, and the GHBA’s resources.
Last year EOM took a bold step forward and started a trades training program working with the local Brookshire ISD and community to bring 12 high school age students into the program. The first step to starting the school was the creation of the space for the classroom and procuring tools for the program. Allen consulted and assisted them with remodeling the space with their volunteers and some hired trades.
When the call went out from EOM for funds to procure tools and equipment or donations, Allen made Dennis an offer he couldn’t refuse. He invited their team to his company’s storage space full of construction and wood working tools to pick and choose what they would like to “store” for Allen. “Over 20 years, I’ve collected a lot of tools that we only use every so often for our construction projects, and I knew they would be put to better use ‘stored’ at the school,” said Allen.
That bold step of starting the school by EOM, has now blossomed into 24 students. The GHBA is offering a grant through Black and Decker that will aid in covering the cost of becoming an HBI accredited school. HBI accreditation will integrate performance-based learning in the building trades with vocational and academic skills training and includes life skills, career development, and on-the-job training.
Hands-On Learning for Hangar Students
EOM holds a monthly food drive where they distribute hundreds of boxes of assistance to the local Brookshire community. This food drive has been overwhelmingly supported by the local ministries and local companies like Goya Foods. The Hangar facility needed a small building to store the donated dry goods in between the food distributions. The CBC took this project on in April over two Saturdays and worked alongside 12 students in The Hangar’s trade program. This ideal project provided “hands-on” construction experience with our builders and these future skilled tradespeople who may own businesses in the residential construction field in the future.
The CBC team worked hand in hand with the students and allowed them to put their training into practice. They learned what it is like to physically build a structure starting from scratch with the assistance of experienced builders. While the team was erecting the structure, they took time to teach the students how to read the plans, lay out walls and build from them. Allen gave instructions to the students on how to lay out a rafter and cut them for a perfect fit, some of the builders even learned a new skill. On the first Saturday the students were able to install the flooring system, build the framing for the walls and then cut and install the roof rafters. As the first day wrapped up, you could see the accomplishment on the students’ faces, and they all expressed their excitement about finishing the food pantry on Saturday, April 22.
“This was a great experience to be out there with the kids and exposing them to something different,” said Chris Bolio, 2023 Custom Builders Council chairman. “Thanks for including us, Allen!”
A special thank you to Builders FirstSource and The Detering Company for their assistance and donations.
ABOUT THE HANGAR PROGRAM
The Hangar Trade Program kicked off on January 18, 2022. It was developed in partnership with Eyes On Me Inc. and a network of donors who share a common vision of providing trade skills education to the youth of Brookshire and the surrounding communities. This was inspired by the fact that 90% of young men in the area were fatherless. Participants are Royal ISD students and homeschoolers from Waller, Harris, and Fort Bend counties. Courses in general construction that are offered include electrical and plumbing training. The initial goal of the program was to teach how to troubleshoot, repair, or replace many of the problems that exist in homes from normal wear and tear to damage caused by nature. Throughout the course of instruction, participants are learning teamwork, communication skills, critical thinking, and leadership while becoming competent and confident individuals.