The 2010 season has been short of satisfactory for a Dynamo squad used to competing for championships. But even with a season full of on-field disappointments, Dynamo players have continued to serve as positive role models and leave their mark on the Houston community. This past Monday, construction began on The House That Ching Built, a joint venture between Dynamo forward Brian Ching, Dynamo Charities, MLS W.O.R.K.S., and Houston Habitat for Humanity.
Although it will be a few more months before the house is complete, Ching knows that just getting to this point is reason to celebrate.
“I have never done anything of this magnitude before,” Ching said. “I have always gone to charity events here and there, but nothing that was this time-consuming. Raising the money all year has been a challenge, but it’s one that I have been looking forward to.”
The idea for this initiative came two years ago when Ching visited a Habitat for Humanity build site to do a public service announcement.
“When I was down there I had the chance to meet some of the volunteers and some of the representatives from Habitat, and I found out details about what exactly they do,” he said. “It really touched me and made me want to get involved and be able to help out.”
After researching the program and various initiatives, Ching discovered that if he could raise $75,000, he would be able to build a house for a family in need. What pushed him over the top was the knowledge that Habitat for Humanity did not just give houses to anyone. Part of the requirement for those getting a house is that the family must pay back the interest-free mortgage, as well as spend more than 200 hours of their own time helping build other houses in the community. The recipient of Ching’s house is Theresa Urbano, a single mother with two kids.
“The funny thing about this project is that not only has Theresa been out there helping us with the build, but her mom has been out there as well, swinging the hammer and being actively involved with the build process,” Ching said.
Ching said the money for the project came from a plethora of sources. After the MLS All-Star Game, Ching held a postgame party at the House of Blues that raised more than $10,000. Avalon Wines also contributed $0.50 from every bottle sold in July and August to the cause. Lastly, a slew of sponsors, including BMC Software, Turner Construction, The Home Depot, HP Computex, KHOU-TV, and MLS W.O.R.K.S. have contributed their time and resources to the project.
Stephen Sye, Corporate Development Manager for Houston Habitat, believes Ching has proven himself as a leader on and off the field.
“He is not only about Houston for his sports, but he is about Houston and what goes on in the city,” Sye said. “So supporting a family and transferring that family into a new home is an excellent leadership role for him.”
Sye added that the construction of the home should be complete before the end of the year, and the Urbano family should be able to move in early 2011. Dynamo Chief Operating Officer Chris Canetti is proud of the fact that Dynamo players are so willing to give back to the community.
“Over the past five seasons, the Houston community has always been there to support the organization, and the fact that players, such as Brian, are so willing to give back makes all our jobs so much easier,” he said. “Brian is someone you can always count on to score that goal or make that play when you need it, and it’s great to see him bring that same passion and enthusiasm to this project.”
Although never known as a vocal leader, Ching has been the face of the franchise since the team moved from San Jose to Houston in 2005. Ching understands that being a sports star in any market is about more than just on-field success.
“I think getting out and helping in the community is important,” he said. “We do it not only because it makes us feel good, but because we are in a position to give back to the community. It’s something we, as professional athletes, are willing to do because the community has given us so much, as far as support over the past few years. I am proud of the fact that we were able to raise the money for this project, and I hope this is something we can continue to do going forward."