East of Charlotte a dream was becoming a reality as Kyle Busch pulled up to a Habitat for Humanity building site on Monday.
Despite intermittent drizzles, the third shift of Joe Gibbs Racing crews was in process of framing a home along with other volunteers and its future resident Yasin Mohamed.
“It was just a bunch of wood sitting on a slab,” Busch said. “These guys have already done a lot this morning. They’ve been working — getting at it. They’re certainly getting at it. I haven’t held a hammer in a long time I will admit. But when it was my day, I was pretty good at it.”
Busch’s team, led by crew chief Dave Rogers, was ready to put their driver to the test.
“At 8 a.m., there was nothing here,” said Frank Spencer, president and CEO, Habitat for Humanity of Charlotte. “Everybody loves framing day because it goes from being nothing to being something.”
For Mohamed and his family, that “something” will evolve into a home over the next three months. It’s just one of two houses in the Charlotte area that M&M’S, Busch’s NASCAR sponsor, is helping build through its partnership with Habitat this year. M&M’S M’Prove initiative will fund the construction of new homes across the country.
To jumpstart the program, M&M’S is donating $500,000 as part of its M’Prove America campaign. MARS will promote its crusade with specially marked packages of red, white and blue M&M’S. And Busch will debut the M’Prove America paint scheme on his No. 18 Toyota in the Coca-Cola 600 this weekend in an effort to encourage fans to volunteer to the program.
“It’s pretty special that we all have the opportunity to give back in our role as a race team and being able to race every weekend,” Busch said. “To come out here and do something special like this during the week is a neat thing that M&M’S has given us the opportunity to do. Of course, there’s many different things we do throughout the year whether it’s a driver and you have your own charity or foundation. But this year with M&M’S being a part of it and giving back to Habitat for Humanity is fun."
In Charlotte alone, more than 100 families will benefit from Habitat’s efforts in 2013. Whether it’s one of the 33 new homes being constructed, critical home repair for seniors who could not afford the upkeep on their own or the acquisition and rehabilitation of foreclosed properties that allow families to move in sooner, Habitat provides housing for people in need.
And having the name recognition of a Kyle Busch or Joe Gibbs — who volunteered at previous Habitat builds — is invaluable to the non-profit.
“It means a lot — the corporate participation and Kyle getting involved — offer a broader awareness to the program because we count on both volunteers and donors to bring everything together,” Spencer said. “The houses we build are every bit as good as every other house we just make them affordable with volunteer labor, donation and time. Then the money people give us allows us to give no-interest mortgages to the owners. But having the team here widens that audience.”
After leading two of the segments in the All-Star Race on Saturday, Busch was frustrated that he didn’t finish better than third. However, the ability to channel his disappointment into something positive such as Habitat helps put his priorities in order.
“We have to recognize that we have a job to do,” Busch said. “If we’re not successful at our jobs or getting results or wins, we’re not in this business. You could say we’re sore losers, but we have a job to do. We’re out here to win races and when we don’t do that, we feel like we’ve failed.
“The coolest thing about racing on the weekends is that you do have something like this to do during the week that makes you forget about it.”