Giving Back


The Hearthstone BUILDER Humanitarian Award recognizes home builders who demonstrate a lifetime commitment to public service. Since 1999, the award has contributed $7.2 million to various charities, making it the single largest charitable award program in the homebuilding industry. Nominees must be for-profit, single-family builders or lot developers. They may be individuals or companies, employees or owners. Builders may nominate themselves or be nominated by other builders, charities, non-profit organizations, or government organizations they have helped. Special recognition will be given to employees of building firms, in addition to owners. A cash award will be donated to the winning builder’s non-profit charity or community service organization, and both will receive national coverage in BUILDER magazine, website and newsletters. The winner is honored at a special awards ceremony at the Housing Leadership Summit each spring.


Call for Entries: 2024 Hearthstone Builder Humanitarian Award

The entry deadline for the annual public service award is Friday, Dec. 22, 2023.

The editors at BUILDER and our partners at Hearthstone invite you to nominate a candidate for a coveted annual honor, the 25th Hearthstone BUILDER Humanitarian Award.

Each year, the Hearthstone BUILDER Humanitarian Award honors a home builder who demonstrates a lifetime commitment to public service. Recent honorees include  Meritage Homes, HistoryMaker Homes’ Nelson Mitchell, GreenPointe Holdings’ Edward Burr, Taylor Morrison’s Sheryl Palmer, and Great Southern Homes’ Michael Nieri.

Nominees must be for-profit, single-family builders or lot developers. They may be individuals or companies, employees, or owners. Builders may nominate themselves or be nominated by other builders, charities, nonprofit organizations, or government organizations they have helped.

A cash award will be donated to the winning builder’s nonprofit charity or community service organization. The winner and their charity will receive national coverage in BUILDER magazine, our newsletters, and on our website, along with being recognized during an in-person ceremony at Builder 100.

To enter your nominee, simply CLICK HERE to access the award’s new website. You can now register, complete forms, and upload references and images by submitting everything in this easy online format. Deadline for nominations is Friday, Dec. 22, 2023.

Pat Neal, Hearthstone Award Winner

2024: Neal Communities, Founder and Chairman Pat Neal

From an early age, Pat Neal, founder and chairman of Sarasota, Florida–based Neal Communities, recalls his father teaching him “land is forever.” But as developers, most land opportunities and transactions typically involve building homes and communities on those parcels after purchase, opposed to preserving them for future generations. For Neal, he’s in the business for both.

It all started during a family vacation. Neal’s father was diving for Florida lobster—bug hunting he called it—in Big Pine Key. When he came to the surface of the water near the southeast corner of the island, he noticed a for-sale sign. While the family visited the area every summer together, this time his father “spotted more than lobsters, he saw an opportunity.”

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Steven Hilton and Philippe Lord

2023: Meritage Homes, Executive Chairman Steven Hilton and CEO Phillippe Lord

With “start with heart” at the forefront of Meritage Homes’ core values, it’s no wonder charitable giving has been a significant part of the Arizona-based builder’s makeup since its inception in 1985.

In the company’s 37-year history, executive chairman Steven Hilton and CEO Phillippe Lord have helped establish partnerships and aid countless efforts, but ultimately the leaders report it’s been a team effort with input from every single employee at the organization.

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Nelson Mitchell History Maker Homes CEO

2022: Nelson Mitchell, History Maker Homes CEO

HistoryMaker Homes CEO Nelson Mitchell has a servant heart that has been passed down through generations. From great-grandfather O.N. Mitchell Sr. and grandfather O.N. Mitchell Jr., who established the Texas company in 1949, to his father, Bryan Mitchell, who switched career paths to support the family-run business, the Mitchell family has considered charitable giving a core value—in both their personal lives and corporate ventures—for decades.

Today, the fourth-generation home builder and his company have raised over $14.5 million within their work, benefiting children with disabilities, impoverished communities, veterans, and local homeless populations. For his devotion to giving back to his local communities and the greater globe, Nelson has been presented with the 2022 Hearthstone BUILDER Humanitarian Award.

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2021: Sheryl Palmer, Taylor Morrison’s chairman and CEO

Through both internal programs and external ventures, Taylor Morrison’s chairman and CEO has demonstrated a lifetime to public service. “Hearthstone is proud to recognize Ms. Sheryl Palmer as our 2021 public home builder winner for her leadership and far-reaching efforts that support her team members, customers, and the hundreds of communities in which Taylor Morrison serves,” says Mark Porath, CEO of Hearthstone.  For more information on charities, visit: HomeAid and California Building Foundation

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2021: Edward Burr

Florida real estate developer Edward Burr launched a nonprofit that is leading the way by educating and empowering young people.  “Hearthstone is proud to recognize Mr. Ed Burr as our 2021 private home builder winner for 25 years of dedication and support to educate and protect children and teens from all types of bullying, abuse, and victimization,” says Mark Porath, CEO of Hearthstone. “The prevention education programs that the Monique Burr Foundation has provided to over 5 million children and teens throughout Florida and the U.S. is truly inspiring.” For more information on this charity, visit:

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2020 Public Builder: Pulte’s Built to Honor Program

Thanks to Pulte’s Built to Honor program, Appleby, a veteran of the Iraq War, his wife, Yoland, and their four children were able to move into a four-bedroom, 2,100-square-foot home built and furnished specifically for their family, at no cost to them. His home is one of 56 houses that have been constructed by the program since 2010, and another seven are on the calendar. Each home represents $400,000 in donations, so in total the homes are worth more than $20 million. For more information on this charity, visit:

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2020 Private Builder: Great Southern Homes, Michael Nieri, Founder & Owner

“Generous,” “supportive,” and “selfless” are just a few of the recurring words that were used to describe the character of Great Southern Homes’ Michael Nieri. Founder, owner, and president of the Irmo, S.C.–based home building company, Nieri has always strived to provide well-built, affordably priced homes for first-time and move-up buyers, but he also believes in building up and giving back to his local community by sharing his success with several charities and groups in need. For more information on this charity, visit:

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Hayden Watson of Hayden Homes

2019: Hayden Watson, chairman of Hayden Homes

Donations in excess of $18.5 million in to a variety of causes including the non-profit, First Story. Watson founded First Story to provide hardworking, deserving and capable families with an affordable home and a major step toward financial freedom. Additionally, more than 80 percent of his staff contributes to this organization through a regular payroll deduction called “Give As You Go,” matched 100% by Hayden Homes. For more information on this charity, visit:

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Pat Hamill, Oakwood Homes

2018: Pat Hamill, founder, chairman, CEO and president of Oakwood Homes

Builders like Pat Hamill, who founded the Colorado Home Building Academy to reinvest in the training and education of new talent in the home building community. The Academy offers hands-on learning, classroom teaching and real-life experience with the ultimate goal of job placement and ongoing support for its students. For more information on this charity visit:

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Lori and Dave Sanson

2017: Dave and Lori Sanson – CEO and EVP, DeNova Homes

The Sansons have active roles with HomeAid – Dave serves as Chairman of the Board and Lori has chaired the PR committee and the “Hope for the Homeless” annual fundraiser for the last seven years. Their local impact translates to housing for more than 500 homeless individuals with five large HomeAid projects. Their passion for the organization has been ingrained in their 60 employees at DeNova and with their two sons. For more information on this charity, visit:

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Chris Gaffney

2016: Chris Gaffney – Group President, Toll Brothers

Chris Gaffney has been working with Covenant House for six years, transforming the lives of hundreds of young people from the despair of the street. His passion not only is embraced by the children he’s helping, but also by his colleagues. Recently, he organized a record-setting fundraising event that in one night raised $286,000 and that also put the mission of the organization into the hands of many new and passionate ambassadors. For more information on this charity visit:

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Dan Ryan

2015: Dan Ryan – Founder and CEO, Dan Ryan Builders

Since 1990 Dan Ryan Builders has made it a priority to give back to the communities in which it operates through service and in-kind donations to grade schools, youth community groups, affordable housing organizations, non-profit hospitals, local builder associations, and charities. Dan serves on the board of directors of Frederick Rescue Mission providing over 165,000 meals to those in need. He also sponsors the Dan Ryan Builder’s Mission 10 Miler, a race that raises over $10,000 each year to benefit the Frederick Rescue Mission.

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Bert Selva_NEW

2014: Bert Selva – CEO, Shea Homes

Bert has served for 11 years on HomeAid’s board of directors and works to provide housing for homeless families, victims of natural disasters, and veterans. Shea Homes has built eight HomeAid shelter projects valued at more than $5.2 million and has contributed nearly $850,000 to HomeAid and its chapters, making it one of the group’s largest benefactors. He also organized a 2013 fundraising event and benefit concert featuring his friend, singer John Ondrasik of Five for Fighting, which raised almost $100,000.

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Sponsors for the Hearthstone BUILDER Humanitarian Award:

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