“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by
the compassionate actions of its members.”
– Coretta Scott King
If you’re familiar with MasterCraft Builder Group, then you know about our 4 C’s: Craftsmanship, Choice, Customer Service, and Community. It’s that last “C,” Community, that makes celebrating our 10-Year Anniversary as Northeast Florida’s premier semi-custom homebuilder and community developer that much sweeter.
Your home is where our heart is. As a truly local business, we continue to invest in our community. We’re in this business to help shape the place we’ve all chosen to settle our families and raise our kids. And our good fortune allows us to give back. Over the past decade, MasterCraft Builder Group has donated more than a million dollars to dozens of local charities and organizations that help make St. Johns County one of the top places to live, not only in Florida but in the country. The philanthropic giving follows the direction of James 1:27— “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
Come along with us as we explore the 10 charities that MasterCraft has been involved with over the past 10 years and celebrate the importance of reinvesting in our community.
Nestled on a beautiful 465-acre campus in Northeast Florida, Seamark Ranch takes in children that would otherwise not have a home. Built on the teachings of Jesus Christ, Seamark Ranch’s vision is to break the generational cycle of failure that affects the families they serve and nurture purposeful living in children who have experienced broken families. This nonprofit is more than a children’s home, orphanage, or group home. Seamark Ranch offers hope and healing in an environment full of grace and unconditional love. As the longest-standing organization that MasterCraft Builder Group has supported, Seamark Ranch is a longtime recipient of funds from our annual Clays for a Cause event. We also spearheaded the building of their third and fourth homes – ultimately doubling the capacity and number of children they could serve – thanks to our generous trade partners and relationships within the industry. MasterCraft CEO and Founder Chris Shee explained of the early days, “I was first introduced to Seamark when I started leasing the land next door for my hunt club. I’d never heard of them before. The ranch actually used to be part of my hunt club. That’s how I was introduced to them, and just through some common connections, I was able to be introduced to Seamark, and then the rest is history. I feel so incredibly wealthy to have given to Seamark Ranch like we’ve been able to.”
St. Augustine Youth Services (SAYS) ~
With outreach extending across four counties in Northeast Florida including, St. Johns, Flagler, Volusia, and Putnam, St. Augustine Youth Services is a nonprofit organization that has been serving children in its residential programs for boys since 1989. They provide treatment for thousands of at-risk children who have suffered abuse or neglect. MasterCraft has been involved with SAYS for over five years, and they are a longtime recipient of funds raised by our Clays for a Cause event. Currently, MasterCraft is working alongside SAYS to design and construct an Independent Living Village. “This project aims to take kids when they’re about 17 years old and begin acclimating them into this program before they ‘age out’ at 18,” Chris explained. “So, when they’re 18-21, they’re living in a townhome/apartment-style of living, which requires them to be more independent than they once were. The building will be located right next to the St. Augustine Youth Services campus, so there is still oversight, but it’s a great acclimation period for these children to learn how to be on their own in a safe way.”
Builders Care of Northeast Florida
Founded by the Northeast Florida Builders Association (NEFBA) in 2001, Builders Care is a faith-based nonprofit construction organization on a mission to provide affordable to no-cost construction services to the elderly, disabled, and other nonprofits in Northeast Florida to build a better habitat for all. Builders Care is the first charity that MasterCraft began donating to consistently. “From the very first home that we built, we have contributed $100 at every single closing to Builders Care,” explained Chris. “We will build our 500th home next month, which means MasterCraft will have contributed $50,000 over the last 10 years, just from our closing proceeds.” MasterCraft also built 2020’s Home from the Heart, which raised a total of $117,900 for Builders Care.
Located in Jacksonville, Florida, Rethreaded offers a second chance at life by providing survivors of human trafficking with various employment opportunities, including production, inventory, sales, marketing, and finance/admin. The nonprofit also operates as a distribution company that sells products from like-minded businesses that employ survivors of human trafficking. MasterCraft began working with Rethreaded two years ago, helping to raise awareness of their new location by hosting charity events at Tringali Barn at Heritage Farms, where all proceeds are donated to Rethreaded. “I’ve known Kristin for several years now and know how passionate she is related to this mission,” said Chris. “Rethreaded is widely known in Jacksonville, but not so much in St. Johns County. Part of my mission with Rethreaded is to make sure they get more exposure in St. Johns County, so they can not only be more sustainable, but also able to grow and help more women.”
American Legion Post 194 “Kids Safe Zone”
Founded by American Legion Post 194, Kids Safe Zone is a free, after-school program for at-risk youth in West Augustine, a predominantly African-American neighborhood of St. Augustine. Kids Safe Zone provides children with homework help, targeted tutoring based on in-house aptitude tests, and communication with parents. The group exposes children to community leaders and different professions while also providing self-discovery exercises, potential career paths, and college campus tours. Chris Shee was introduced to Kids Safe Zone by the founder, Greg White, at a community meeting and asked how MasterCraft could be involved in their mission. “Their mission was perfect,” said Chris. “I jumped on-board and asked how we could help. I learned that they wanted to build a park next door to the American Legion Post, so we took that on. With the help of a good friend and landscape architect, Brett Kuzoian, we designed it. Clays For A Cause contributed $35,000 and the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office donated $10,000 to Kids Safe Zone so we also have the money to build it!”
Located in St. Augustine, Florida, HorsePlay Therapy Center provides children with special needs with a foundation for developing life skills to improve their overall quality of life. HoresPlay focuses on Hippotherapy, treatment with the help of a horse through assisted physical, occupational, and speech therapies. HorsePlay is a recipient of MasterCraft’s Clay’s for a Cause fundraising event, and MasterCraft has also built the nonprofit a wheelchair-accessible loading ramp for their property. “That was the first project that we did with them,” said Chris. “Through our work, I got to meet Vicky Carregal, the founder and director of HorsePlay. I told her to let me know if they ever needed to use Tringali Barn for a fundraiser, and in December, they held their first event there, and it was an amazing reception. They raised over $40,000!”
Alpha-Omega Miracle Home
Founded in 1997, Alpha-Omega Miracle Home is a faith-based nonprofit providing shelter, support, and hope to single and expectant mothers, children, and senior women. Their supportive services allow mothers to transition out of poverty while also providing senior women with the opportunity to become surrogate grandmothers and mentors in a caring and collaborative environment. From a very humble beginning with very little money, staff, or a formal plan, Alpha-Omega Miracle Home has grown to provide permanent supportive housing units and services for up to 80 women and children, including case management, counseling, financial literacy, and life skills classes. In 2007, they launched community outreach programs for homeless and low-income individuals and families living in St. Johns County. MasterCraft was introduced to Alpha-Omega by Kristin Thomas, “Kristin reached out to me, she’s their development director, and asked if I would come over and meet with them,” said Chris. “I met with them at their new campus location, and there was no turning back.” Alpha-Omega Miracle Home was a recipient at MasterCraft’s recent 8th Annual Clays for a Cause fundraiser.
Port in the Storm
In affiliation with St. Francis House, Port in the Storm offers housing crisis, essential services, and life skills to unaccompanied youth, individuals, and families throughout St. Johns County. Their services provide counseling and food to at-risk children to improve their quality of life. As a local charity that helps children, MasterCraft was immediately drawn to contribute. Port in the Storm was a recipient of donation funds from this year’s Clays for a Cause event.
MasterCraft has hosted fundraising events for the nonprofit at Tringali Barn and has donated two storage sheds to the organization so they are able to store more non-perishable food items and clothing. “The director, Ms. Karen, explained to me that one thing they were lacking was optimal storage,” said Chris. “So, we became the shed donor. It’s a running joke that they call them the Shee Sheds at the property. I said that’s fine so long as my brother’s shed is the smaller one.”
Hugs Across the County
Hugs Across the County is a nonprofit based in St. Johns County aimed at raising awareness surrounding student poverty. The organization works closely with school counselors and student services to identify children’s needs and raise funds to assist children in crisis. Their services provide clothing and school supplies and organize neighbors to provide classroom volunteers throughout Northeast Florida. Hugs Across the County was a recipient of this year’s Clays for a Cause event, and MasterCraft looks forward to continuing work with them in the future.
Top Shots is a youth sporting team in St. Johns County that teaches kids in the community how to shoot shotguns and increase their skill at sporting clay and skeet shooting. Top Shots provides college scholarship opportunities while also getting kids in the community involved in an after-school activity. The youth group participated at this year’s Clays for a Cause event and facilitated a raffle to help raise money. “Jamie, the owner of Saltwaters Shooting Club, told me that they didn’t have any guns for the kids to borrow,” explained Chris. “I thought, well, there’s a great opportunity! I’ll buy two used shotguns for the team.” Top Shots raised over $4,000 in their raffle at Clays for a Cause and made various connections with fellow community members who donated additional money to purchase shotguns for the team.
MasterCraft is proud to work with each and every one of these charity organizations and believes in the power of giving back to the community. Over the past 10 years, our community relationships have grown exponentially, and we wouldn’t be the business we set out to be all those years ago if we didn’t continue to give back. We can’t wait to see where these relationships lead in the upcoming years and look forward to watching our community grow as we do.