Helping to grant pride of homeownership to low-income individuals is reason enough for the concrete producer to donate or discount materials and time to Habitat for Humanity. However, several producers of concrete masonry units and ready-mixed concrete also can spot a win-win opportunity for their industry in the endeavor. These producers are discovering that their charitable works also increase builders' and homeowners' awareness of concrete as a viable alternative to wood framing for above-grade residential walls.

In Arizona masonry walls have made inroads in the residential market through this humanitarian effort. Several producer members of the Arizona Masonry Guild (AMG) made outright donations of materials to Balboa Casitas, a 15-lot subdivision of block homes, in September 2000. Construction of the Balboa Casitas homes also demonstrated a masonry construction technique to builders. Some 200 miles north of Tucson in Cottonwood, Ariz., the local Habitat affiliate has had foundation walls built on the homes it has constructed. Three of the four have been total donations from locally based Superior Concrete and Hansen Concrete.

Over in Allentown, Pa., Casilio Concrete, Kollar Concrete, and Rahns Concrete have donated ready-mix to five concrete homes during the past two years. The article includes information about Lafarge Corp.'s donating at least $1 million in materials over the next five years.