A Deeper Connection

Greenland Homes builds its fourth charity home for Children’s Cancer Connection.

When you start a home construction business during the most difficult housing downturn in memory, you really appreciate the good years.

Corey Kautz, founder of Greenland Homes, speaks from experience when he says that it’s important to find a way to give back to the communities that help you grow. Several years after entering the construction field, he opened Greenland Homes. That was in 2008.

At a time when other companies were leaving the home building industry, Greenland jumped in with both feet and grew steadily. “We completed about 10 homes that first year,” Kautz says, “And last year Greenland did $49 million in business.”

Tammy Heckart, Realtor with Iowa Realty, partnered with Greenland Homes in 2009 and now works almost exclusively representing its properties. “When Corey decided a few years ago that he wanted to do some sort of giving-back project, we talked about different organizations,” Heckart says. “We met with one or two, and it just didn’t feel right.”

Then Heckart told Kautz about the Children’s Cancer Connection. “Tammy’s nephew had had cancer when he was 4,” Kautz says. “That’s how she learned about the Children’s Cancer Connection.”

“We wanted a local organization, and when we met with the people from Children’s Cancer Connection, we knew it was a good fit,” Heckart says. “It doesn’t have big salaried positions, it’s all local, and the money really goes to benefit the kids.”

Founded in 1988, the Des Moines-based charity focuses on encouraging families. Its website states, “While many great organizations are working to find a cure for the disease afflicting more than 13,500 children each year in the United States, Children’s Cancer Connection strives to provide care following a cancer diagnosis.” In addition to various camps each summer, the organization offers hospital-based services and other family activities year-round.

“Our hospital-based programs, such as the Beads4Bravery, Bravery Bucks, and Courage Store, help put us in touch with families that would benefit from our other services,” says Kim Olmstead, Director of Donor Relations for the Children’s Cancer Connection. “We also offer support groups for families, camps and retreats for children and families, and survivorship programs to help families establish a new normal after treatment.”

Greenland built its first charity project in 2011–2012. Since then, the company has donated over $200,000 to the Children’s Cancer Connection. “I think it’s more than 500 kids who have attended camp as a result of our donations,” Heckart says.

Olmstead adds, “Our ongoing relationship with Greenland Homes started because of Tammy’s family connection. But it has grown every year, not just the donations but the reach—the promotion of the project, the vendors that get involved, and the social media awareness. It’s just a wonderful promotional event as well as fund-raiser.”

Both Heckart and Iowa Realty donate their commissions on the home, and Greenland donates all profits from the sale. Many of the subcontractors and suppliers donate their services as well.

Kautz notes, “On that first home, fewer subs donated. That was in 2011, and the market was still pretty slow, so it was harder for people to give up paying work. But every Cancer Connection home we’ve done, we’ve had more people want to participate. It’s just kept building momentum over the years.”

This year’s project marks Greenland’s fourth home for the Children’s Cancer Connection. The four-bedroom, two-story home in a new development just off Alice’s Road in Waukee features many upgrades, including wide-plank engineered-wood flooring, a stone fireplace, painted cabinetry, and tile showers.

Each of the charity homes has another very special feature. Inset in the front step is an engraved tile marking the home as a Children’s Cancer Connection project.

“Our concrete contractor offered to do that to commemorate the project,” Kautz says. “They’re usually hidden under a welcome mat, but every one of the houses has that.”

“We’re really excited about the project,” Heckart says. “So many people have gotten involved. We’re looking forward to seeing the results.”

The previous Greenland charity home resulted in $100,000 in donations. That means even more children suffering from cancer, and their siblings, had the opportunity to spend a week at camp last summer, a week where life could be normal again.

“That’s why we do this—so these kids can just enjoy being kids again,” say Heckart and Kautz.

“One of the great things about our relationship with Greenland is that the funds raised have done more than send kids to camp,” Olmstead says. “Having those funds designated to continue offering camp for free allows us to focus the rest of our budget on growing other programs and reaching more families every year.”

Greenland Homes may have started the charity builds as a way to give back to the community, but the builds have made a deeper connection that extends much further. Everyone, including employees, subcontractors, and suppliers, now has a vested interest in the work the Children’s Cancer Connection is doing.

And this summer, there will be a lot more laughing children at camp because of it.

Greenland Homes Project Participating Donors

  • Alan’s Seamless Gutters
  • Ankeny Sanitation
  • Arizona Patios
  • Aspen Aire
  • Bailey’s Excavating
  • Central Iowa Ready Mix
  • Central Iowa Trucking
  • Centurion Stone
  • Collins Roofing
  • Community State Bank
  • Contractor Services of Iowa
  • Cook Plumbing
  • Dickman Supply
  • Electric Wholesale Company
  • Element Group
  • Factory Direct
  • The Flooring Guys
  • Steve Gruver
  • Tammy Heckart, Realtor
  • Iowa Realty
  • JMT Trucking
  • Rich Jones Construction
  • Devin Kline
  • Kohles & Bach
  • Kustom Concrete Pumping
  • Landmark Development
  • Leachman Lumber
  • Logan Contractors Supply
  • LP Building Products
  • MacArthur Corporation
  • Martin Grading
  • McDonald Supply
  • Nehring Construction
  • Northland Foundations
  • Onner Services
  • Platinum Plus Painting
  • Quaker Windows
  • Royal Flooring
  • Sherwin Williams
  • Snyder and Associates
  • Stensland Sod
  • Stone Age Granite
  • Summit Trim
  • Tesdell Electric
  • Unique Drywall
  • Chris Wagner
  • City of Waukee
  • Wayne Dalton Garage Doors