Carmel’s Old Town Design Group to build 12 homes in poverty-stricken nations in 2017


By Christine Fernando

In a remote village in Costa Rica, a mother died from kidney failure, leaving behind a baby girl as her father struggled to juggle parenting and battling Parkinson’s disease.

He didn’t have the time or money to give his daughter a safe home, so Old Town Design Group stepped in to build one for him approximately five years ago.

Since then, the Carmel homebuilding company has built 15 homes in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. It has pledged to build 12 new ones in 2017.

The company also works with an organization called Safe Families to renovate houses for people in need in Carmel.

“We’re not just building communities here in Carmel,” said Liz Yust, sales and marketing team manager. “We’re building communities across the world.”

Yust said a house is one of the greatest gifts that can be given. A house provides safety and protection—two things that can transform a person’s life.

“It’s not just a house,” she said. “It’s a home. It’s an essential part of life.”

The initiative, called the Orchard Project, uses profits from home-building  in Carmel to build homes in poverty-stricken areas abroad. Yust said clients can help give someone else a home by building their own home.

But it’s not a simple process. Yust said bringing skilled labor and materials to build sites in developing countries is more difficult and expensive than in Carmel.

Despite the work, brand ambassador April Miles said it’s worth it because of the hope the homes instill.

“If you don’t have hope, you have nothing,” Miles said. “So that roof over their heads pulls them out of a place of hopelessness.”

Miles said it is easy to get caught up in day-to-day work in a flourishing city like Carmel and forget the struggles of people in poverty-stricken areas. But funding these houses and hearing the stories of the families serves as a reminder not to take a home for granted.

“It’s easy to stay in the walls of Carmel and forget what poverty looks like,” she said. “Hearing those stories means so much.”

Miles said it is important to realize the need in one’s own community, so the company also works with an organization called Safe Families to renovate houses for people in need in Carmel.

“There’s great need in both places,” she said. “There are people in need that we can help support, both down the street and across the globe.”

Yust said Old Town Design Group has a responsibility to think about more than profits.

“We have a responsibility, both locally and globally, to build better communities and make them better places than they were yesterday,” she said.