It’s Memorial Day, 2012. This time next year an able but physically disabled veteran wounded in action during the Iraq or Afghanistan war will have a safe, comfortable and beautiful home to live in. The LIFEhouse™ is the second of its kind being built at Newport Cove near Antioch, Illinois. The original house was built in collaboration with the IDEA Center at the University of Buffalo, State University of New York, known for its design work in accessibility.
After walking through a model of the home located on Bluff Lake, an anonymous donor asked builder Susanne Tauke, president of New American Homes, to build one for a wounded vet. She named the project LIFEhouse for a Hero.
Tauke solicited help from several organizations and suppliers who stepped up to donate time and materials and help plan events. The Home Builders Association of Greater Chicago, Operation Finally Home, the Chicago NFL Players Association and suppliers including LP Building Products, Wausau Supply, Andersen Windows and lots of local trades people: plumbers, surveyors, and carpenters were ready to lend their support.
A press release sent out for an event in April announced that former NFL players would be helping put up siding on the house. Vets showed up at the event too, some from the Vietnam War. “Same blood, different mud,” one said about why he had come. The event generated news stories online, in radio, TV and print.
Newspaper Looks at Relevance Over Immediacy for LIFEhouse Hero Story
While most media published the story on the day of the event, one newspaper, the Northwest Herald, released the LIFEhouse for a Hero story on Memorial Day weekend. Timing is important with news coverage, but this shows you needn’t always be first. Relevance can trump immediacy. Someone at the newspaper held the story until Memorial Day weekend, a timely fit for readers. Review your own editorial calendar or topic list and see what is best to publish and when.
What’s special about the LIFEhouse is more than how it originated. The ranch style layout features coastal architecture, has a large finished basement, wide doorways and hallways, hard wood flooring and no-step entrances. Based on universal design principles, this house is for everyone, and someone special – a wounded vet with mobility challenges. Targeting services or products for someone in particular can increase its appeal because there is a story to tell.
Tauke is candid about how the slow economy has impacted builders. “I’m truly grateful for all the people who have helped with this project. I know times are hard.” Then she says out loud what she’s been thinking all along. “I consider what the veterans of war have gone through and decide I am in a privileged position to orchestrate something positive – a house that will become a home for a wounded veteran and family.”