Habitat Project

Featured Fundraising Project of 2008: Habitat for Humanity Playhouse Raffle

From the front page of the Marblehead Reporter

Equal opportunity and the deal of a lifetime
March 13, 2008
By Carolyn Moore

For just a $5 down payment regardless of credit or income status, you have a chance to purchase a home and give back to your community.

Deals like this don’t come around often. But at the 11th Annual Home & Garden Show on March 15 and 16 one lucky individual will walk away with a custom-designed and locally crafted cottage thanks to the collaboration of James Gilroy House Wright Inc. and 15 local businesses.

Here’s the catch: It’s a playhouse.

Just one month ago Meghan McChesney Gilroy was looking for a way to give back to the community. She and her husband, Jamie Gilroy, were shopping at an organic market in western Massachusetts and stumbled upon a handcrafted children’s playhouse. From that moment on, the story unfolded faster than either she or her husband could have anticipated.

What better way to combine their own resources and talent with the goodwill and charity of local businesses by constructing a children’s playhouse to be raffled off to raise $5,000 for a local charity, thought Gilroy. Her husband was immediately on board and Meghan had a charitable organization picked out: Habitat for Humanity of the North Shore.

“We are committed to giving back to the local community and thought this would be a fun and creative way to do so,” said Gilroy. “This project just took off. Everyone we called and asked support of immediately said yes.”

Gilroy recruited three of his employees, Anthony Adam, Brian Jacob and Michael Nothrup, to donate their labor. Robert Zarelli, a local architect drafted the design for the playhouse.

“As my father would say, it’s a bella fantasia,” (Italian for “beautiful fantasy),” said Zarelli.

The building supplies were donated by Chuck and Gail Clark of Gilbert & Cole; the paint, by Sean Clarke of Waters & Brown with a unique magnetic paint donated by Mud Puddle Toys; the window boxes by Rich Lecerc of New England Window Box and Sally Jacobson of Garden Angel. The house was painted by Scott Salah of The Paint Shop.

Public awareness of the project was the gift of Kevin Burke of Burke Plus Design who donated his graphic designing talents to create ads and flyers, Monica Winter of Hip Baby Gear who paid for the cost of printing the flyers and Jayne Clayton and Sean Gildea of Raveis Realty who sponsored the ad that ran in the Marblehead Reporter on March 6 and 13.

The project itself, including planning, advertisement, labor and materials came well over $10,000 said Gilroy. The big yet modular children’s playhouse will be shown at the Chamber’s 11th Annual Home & Garden Show this Saturday, and the raffle will be drawn on Sunday. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased both at the show and around town at Eastern Bank in Marblehead, Hip Baby Gear, Mud Puddle Toys and the Spirit of 76 Bookstore.

The winner of the drawing has the option of having it reconstructed at their home or they can donate it back to Habitat for Humanity for their upcoming fundraising auction.

“Not everyone realizes that there is a Habitat for Humanity on the North Shore. Our organization uses all volunteer labor and donated materials to renovate buildings and construct new homes, which are sold to low-income families at no cost with no profit and no interest. A portion of all monies that we receive is also sent out locally but also internationally,” said Don Preston, president of Habitat for Humanity of the North Shore.

It was so heartwarming for me as a company owner,” said Gilroy “It was really a collaborative effort.”

The Gilroys who have a history of donating to charitable organizations were really satisfied to have brought in so many community members to help in their efforts to raise money for Habitat for Humanity of the North Shore.

“Most of the time it’s just writing a check,” said Meghan Gilroy “Here, it felt much more visceral and alive.”

From Letters to the Editor of the Marblehead Reporter

By Jamie & Meghan Gilroy
March 27, 2008

Dear Editor,

We would like to extend our sincere thanks to the community for making the Children’s Playhouse Raffle to benefit Habitat for Humanity – North Shore featured in the March 13th issue of the Marblehead Reporter a huge success. We raised over $2,500 in 10 days, which will assist in building homes in not only Lynn and Salem, but also in Zambia Africa. Plus, Emma, Meghan, and Katie, the children of Robert & Dawna Deiana of Marblehead were delighted when they discovered that they won a (play) home of their own. Congratulations!

We could not have designed and built this playhouse without the generous help of Bob & Debbie Zarelli of Robert Zarelli Architect, Chuck & Gail Clark of Gilbert & Cole, Scott Salah of The Paint Shop, Sean Clarke of Waters & Brown, Sally Jacobson of Garden Angel, Ron Lecerc of New England Window Boxes, and Ann Marie Casey of the Marblehead Chamber of Commerce.

We also want to thank all of the people who helped spread the word – Kevin Burke of Burke + Design, Jane Clayton and Sean Gildea of Raveis Realty, Gary Everbeck and Jamie Potvin of All Kinds of Signs, and Carolyn Moore of The Marblehead Reporter. We cannot forget the ticket sellers – Kristen and Sam Pollard of Mud Puddle Toys (who also donated magnetic paint), Monica Winter of Hip Baby Gear (who also assisted in funding the advertising), Eastern Bank – Marblehead, Bob Hugo and Hilary Emerson Lay of Spirit of ’76 Bookstore, Chet of Chet’s Video, Don Preston and Lisa Wilson of Habitat for Humanity, along with Emily DeWitt, Catherine Hier, Tammy Waite, and Graham Salzberg. We have so much gratitude to Jaye van Dussen and Sally Jacobson who took on coordinating the raffle and sold quite a few tickets as well.

Finally none of this would have happened without of our talented House Wright crew who graciously volunteered their time and skills to build the playhouse – Anthony Adam, Brian Jacob, and Michael Northrup. And to all of you who opened your hearts and pocket books in support of this worthy cause – many, many thanks! We look forward to doing it again next year!

Jamie & Meghan Gilroy
James Gilroy House Wright Inc.


  • The North Shore is home
  • We are a family-owned company based in N.Conway NH. With children of our own, we believe in giving back to where we work and live.


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