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West Bloomfield Nonprofits Need Votes for $25,000 Prize

Project Build!, a collaborative effort between two local organizations, is a finalist in a competition that could net the program a grand prize of $250,000 from The Home Depot.

Two local nonprofit organizations have worked to help some people where they need it most: in their homes. Now, they need help to win a national contest, with high stakes.

West Bloomfield-based  and the Building Industry Association of Southeastern Michigan have partnered for two years on Project Build!, a program that provides clients with safe and barrier-free homes through pro bono repairs and renovations provided by members of the building industry group. It was announced Monday that the program has been selected as a finalist for Aprons in Action, a national voting contest through Facebook hosted by The Home Depot Foundation. Project Build! now has the opportunity to win a $25,000 gift card from The Home Depot.

"What we could do with that money," said Michelle Malamis, development associate at Jewish Family Services. "Home repair is often last on the list for people with special needs who happen to struggle with food, rent and other services, but it's a necessity. Sometimes, we're literally keeping people able to live in their own homes."

Voting runs through Jan. 31 at facebook.com/homedepotfoundation. The organization with the most votes will win the $25,000 prize and be in the running for the grand prize of $250,000 this March. The runner-up organizations from each month will receive $5,000 in Home Depot gift cards.

Project Build! is competing against three other nonprofit organizations from across the country: Oregon Paralyzed Veterans of America in Salem, OR, Pilot Club of Denham Springs in Denham Springs, LA, and VFW Post 4127 in Homestead, FL.

Malamis estimated Project Build! has worked toward more than 20 different home repairs in locations from Detroit to Oak Park, Huntington Woods to West Bloomfield. She said the work often goes toward those with disabilities, home-bound seniors and low-income families.

"Recently, we built a barrier-free kitchen for a woman with multiple sclerosis in Southfield. She had a beautiful porch, but she hadn't been on it for three years because she didn't have a ramp," Malamis said.

The work is some of the most gratifying for Building Industry Association members, which include local builders, remodelers and suppliers and runs 600-strong, according to vice president of communications Susan Adler-Shanteau.

"Our members have been battling rocky economic conditions, just like everyone else. This work makes them feel great. We hope that this great feeling will continue even after the economy improves," she said.

How to Vote

Voting runs through noon ET Jan. 31. Aprons in Action is on Facebook at facebook.com/homedepot.

The final percentages of votes for each nonprofit will be posted on The Home Depot and The Home Depot Foundation’s Facebook pages at 9 a.m. ET Feb. 1.

For more information and to view the program rules, visit The Home Depot on Facebook or go to homedepotfoundation.org.

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