Pinehills trust helps build affordable homes -by Emily Clark

As Seen in Old Colony Memorial | January 11, 2020

January 13, 2020     Newsroom, In The Media

[Standing L to R] Pinehills LLC Managing Partner Tony Green; Pinehills Affordable Housing Charitable Trust board member and local attorney Bob Betters; Plymouth Taskforce for the Homeless President Connie Melahoures; Pinehills LLC President John Judge. [Sitting L to R] Habitat for Humanity of Greater Plymouth Executive Director Jim Middleton; Pinehills Affordable Housing Charitable Trust former board member Michael "Buster" Main.

By Emily Clark
Old Colony Memorial
Posted at Wicked Local Plymouth
Jan 11, 2020 at 10:00 AM

PLYMOUTH – The dark green SUV rolled slowly by them and pulled up to the curb on Water Street. Michael “Buster” Main and his wife, Gerry Hooker, known affectionately as Sweetpea, frowned at it. Were they being followed?

Main walked over a little to get a closer look, as the passenger side window rolled down. He and Hooker kept their distance, but heard a familiar voice within.

“Keep the damn gun in your pocket,” Main told his wife, who has a license to carry.

They craned their necks to view the driver.

Pinehills Managing Partner Tony Green was leaning toward them, gesturing.

“I want to meet with you,” he said, and got out of the car.

It wasn’t what Main expected, particularly since he had just taken The Pinehills to task at Town Meeting, asking why the development wasn’t contributing to the affordable housing effort. It was 2009 and Main, who had never made a subtle point in his life, wasn’t sure what to expect from a conversation with Green after a gauntlet had been tossed unceremoniously on very public ground.

Surprises were in store. Green and Pinehills President John Judge weren’t interested in locking horns with Main over his Town Meeting declarations; they made him a proposition. Would Main like to get involved in a brand new Pinehills LLC trust dedicated to providing funding for affordable housing? Is the sky up? The Pinehills Affordable Housing Charitable Trust was born.

Looking back on the encounter, Green couldn’t help smiling.

“Given that Sweetpea is very protective, I think I might have been in mortal danger for a moment or two,” he said, laughing.

For the next 10 years, Main served on the Pinehills Affordable Housing Charitable Trust’s board of directors, helping the nonprofit help others in need of housing. Main retired his post on that board recently and couldn’t say enough about Green and Judge as well as developer Tom Wallace, who he said put their heads together to dedicate funds and raise money for 19 affordable housing units in town for the homeless, veterans and those who simply couldn’t afford a home or apartment otherwise.

“They’ve created 19 homes and no one knows about it,” Main said. “They went out of their way to help.”

“The Trust gives money to the Plymouth Taskforce for the Homeless, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Plymouth and other organizations,” Green said. “What we have tried to do is make sure whatever dollars we commit are the dollars that take a project up and over the top so that it can actually happen.”

A spirit of collaboration and a shared commitment to help are what drive this nonprofit, he said.

“That is what makes it work on a community-wide basis, so it’s a wider perspective than just our own,” Green added. “You can’t have a conversation like that with everybody. A lot of the credit reflects back on Buster. Bob Betters has been an invaluable part of the board, as well as Pinehills resident Rose Havens.”

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Plymouth Executive Director Jim Middleton said multiple entities like The Pinehills working together produce homes that impact families and individuals for generations to come. Children in stable environments grow up with more opportunities and a more positive outlook, he said.

The town provided land in one case, Middleton added, and the Pinehills Affordable Housing Charitable Trust stepped in with funding that made the project possible. Volunteers and businesses then descended upon the project, providing pro bono services. Middleton also noted that Town Meeting has dedicated Community Preservation Act funds to projects, making them community-wide efforts that ensure veterans and others have homes.

Plymouth Taskforce for the Homeless President Connie Melahoures said her initial request for $39,000 to create housing for the homeless was revised by Green and Judge who shook their heads. Green said she’d need a lot more than that and made sure $50,000 of the trust money was donated to the project. When all was said and done, however, the trust donated $80,000 to the Plymouth Taskforce for the Homeless, helping men and women find shelter. Today, two large North Plymouth homes house a number of homeless men and women who would be out on the street otherwise. Melahoures said that’s thanks in large part to the Pinehills Affordable Housing Charitable Trust, and the generosity of Green and Judge who responded to the need.

The Habitat for Humanity of Greater Plymouth homes on Long Pond Road are yet another example of the trust making all the difference, Main said, as well as the selfless work of businesses that performed pro bono work, as well as individual volunteers and a town that supported the effort. Main said the trust’s donation amounted to more than $150,000.

“What The Pinehills and Habitat for Humanity did together was never done before,” Main added.

Judge said Habitat was so grateful the nonprofit hosted an event honoring The Pinehills Affordable Housing Charitable Trust and Matt Glynn recently, who has been wiring Habitat homes for free for a decade, at a cost of $10,000 to $15,000 per home, Middleton said. Judge wanted to thank Habitat for thanking The Pinehills, he said, so he made some phone calls to many of the vendors his company has used over the years.

“I said, ‘Listen, you have helped us build The Pinehills and we’ve helped Habitat build these homes. Would you be willing to make a contribution to the trust and we’ll bundle those contributions and give Jim a check?’” Judge said.

The donations rolled in, and, within 10 days, totaled $15,000. Anxious to hand over the check as a surprise during the ceremony, Judge said he was flummoxed when Habitat gave him the plaque and didn’t request a speech. How was he going to surprise Jim Middleton unless he could address the crowd? Judge had to request to speak, which was awkward, but funny. He got up and told the story of how he had asked for the donations, pulled a check for $15,000 out of his pocket and handed it to Middleton, whose stunned expression told the story.

The Pinehills had already paid $10,000 to help sponsor the event, as a donation, so Middleton said he couldn’t contain his joy at the completely unexpected award of the additional funds for his cause.

It all started 10 years ago, with a question asked at Town Meeting and a development team that could have responded differently to someone criticizing a missing effort. Instead, Green and Judge decided Main was right, and instead of firing back at him put him at the head of the table.

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