Steel Industry Presses Toward Completion of the "Carmen House"

Wed January 22, 2003 - National Edition

Nearly two-dozen contractors, suppliers, executives, engineers, and others met at a building site just north of Atlanta, GA, last month to wield screw guns, pneumatic nailers, tape measures and chop saws in the final stages of construction on the "Carmen House," a 1,200-sq. ft. steel-framed home built to commemorate Carmen Gravley, one of the pioneers in the steel framing industry.

"Carmen was on the original steel framing team formed by the American Iron & Steel Institute (AISI) in 1982, and a key player in many of the original training initiatives, and other programs that introduced tens of thousands of people to steel framing," said Tim Waite, president of the Steel Framing Alliance (SFA), now the voice of the steel framing industry.

Carmen remained a vital member of the effort after the AISI spun off a new organization, called the North American Steel Framing Alliance (since renamed Steel Framing Alliance), and helped educate thousands of building officials and bring together the steel framing industry through a comprehensive directory of resources.

"Carmen touched more people in this industry than almost anyone else, and was universally loved and respected for her knowledge, spirit of service, and many skills," Waite added.

Carmen passed away on March 7, 2000, and the steel industry immediately determined to find an appropriate way to honor her memory and importance to steel framing.

According to Rick Haws, friend and former manager of the AISI steel framing effort, the answer was quickly found when they became aware of WinShape Homes, which sponsors a program to provide homes for long-term foster care.

"Carmen was a great mother to her son and newborn daughter, and was keenly interested in helping nurture other children. By building a steel framing home for WinShape, we immediately recognized the opportunity to erect a lasting memorial of her contributions to steel framing, and effectively represent the kind of person she really was," he said.

WinShape Homes was created as a long-term foster care program for children who desperately need a caring, family environment. S. Truett Cathy, owner and founder of the Chik-fil-A restaurant chain, built this program to give children a chance to become all they can and desire to be.

Through the WinShape Homes program, a natural home environment is established, with two full-time, paid parents and up to 12 children in each foster home. While many foster situations require children to leave to be on their own at 18, WinShape encourages and supports college attendance and a continued relationship with their parents and family. Children are encouraged by their foster parents and by WinShape to consider their foster home their true, permanent home, to return to on weekends and vacations. Currently, there are 13 WinShape Homes: eight in Georgia, three in Tennessee, and one each in Alabama and Brazil.