Orlando and Kyomonique McQueen received a gift they never imagined — a brand new house. The newlyweds won the “Project Welcome Home” contest sponsored by Compuware. In partnership with Habitat for Humanity, Art Van and the Parade Company, their new home will be ready for move in on Dec. 20, just in time for Christmas.
Through the “iWish4Detroit” campaign last holiday season, Compuware invited people to enter an online contest as to why they should receive a new home. The McQueens were one of more than 100 families who entered. During the 2011 Thanksgiving Day Parade, Compuware’s Dream Factory float displayed the wishes for Detroit, which were submitted through the website.
“We got all the information at the last minute and at first we were not going to apply,” said Orlando McQueen, 22. “But we were able to get all the paperwork in on time.”
“We are very honored to play a part in the future of this family,” said Bob Paul, Compuware CEO. “We are looking to build a legacy in Detroit, not just for this family, but in this community. It is one thing to sit back in a corporate office and write a check, but it is different to actually go out and get involved and make a difference, and that is what we want to do.”
Compuware teamed up with Habitat for Humanity to help build the home. Habitat for Humanity, a non-profit organization that focuses on rebuilding areas, has core requirements for families who are recipients of a home. The family must help build their home and also invest a minimum of 400 sweat equity hours in building someone else’s home.
“We are very excited and grateful,” said Kyomonique McQueen, 21.
Additionally, the mortgage will also be paid for the first two years.
The couple, who married on June 29, have two young sons and faced challenging times over the past few years.
Currently, the McQueens are living with relatives – and all four of them sleep in one bed and are living out of one room. All of their clothes are in crates and they do not have a refrigerator.
While making only $8 per hour, Orlando McQueen, with the support of other family members, paid for him and his wife to attend medical assistance school. Now, they both work at Henry Ford Hospital.
“It feels good not to only help our family but to also help others,” said Orlando McQueen. “This really brings together the community and encourages people to get to know each other and help each other.”
Staff and volunteers at Habitat for Humanity partnered with Compuware to build the home.
“One of the secrets to running a business is that you have to engage your employees. When people are a part of something larger than themselves, it makes them feel valued that they are a contributors too,” said Paul. “This creates lasting memories and it makes the employees feel more valued.”
“It is very rewarding to help rebuild the community,” said Vincent Tillford, executive director of Habitat for Humanity. “We serve about 75-100 families per year and to have the neighboring families coming together to rebuild the community is great.”
Art Van Furniture is also on board to furnish the entire house for the McQueens. More than $10,000 in furniture will be donated.
“When you hear the story of this family, how can you not want to help?,” said Diane Charles, director of corporate communications for Art Van. “This just made sense to do. This is what Art Van is all about – making an investment in the community we serve.”