As you look through Eric Benner’s website, you see the talent and creativity of a very qualified architect and his firm. But I would like to speak to another side of this man whom I have learned has a very big heart
Over the past year or so, I have worked with Eric on several projects. Eric is part of the Christian organization called Solid Rock Carpenters. (Some of their work is chronicled on this site and at www.solidrockcarpenters.org.) This group helps build affordable houses for people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to live in decent, safe, homes.
I have served as Executive Director and Construction Coordinator for Washington Habitat for Humanity in Washington Parish, LA. This is where and how I met Eric. The Solid Rock Carpenters wanted to help build about 12 houses in Franklinton and Bogalusa, LA. We have plans that we use that are simple and the drawings are elementary. Eric took those plans and “fleshed” them out, drawing additional wall sections and layouts that allowed people with limited experience to construct a house that not only exceeded building codes in this hurricane zone, but allowed for creative approaches so we didn’t have a “cookie-cutter” type look in a neighborhood. As a person who has worked with volunteer construction teams for approximately 20 years, these complete drawing take out many potential problems and allow persons who volunteer to see great accomplishments at the end of a day’s work.
Eric did this without charge. I’m not sure what the monetary value of this service would be in today’s dollars; however, I see the perpetual value of his work for years to come. You see, because Eric took hours out of his busy schedule to create the complete working drawings for us, he took days out of construction when these house plans are used again. In other words, he will aid us in the future without making another drawing.
Another aspect of Eric’s work that isn’t often seen is his working knowledge of construction. Having worked with architects on building church buildings, I have seen drawing that are at times so complicated to construct that it was oblivious that the designer hadn’t used a hammer or built buildings before. Eric’s creativity is enhanced because he has built houses and other structures before. I saw Eric in the role of architect when we were completing our drawings. And then I saw Eric with the nail apron on, nailing together boards, leading a team to build these houses.
I wanted to write a little about Eric’s work beyond the professional portfolio that’s seen. I wanted to share about Eric’s principals and convictions. His professionalism is under girded by his character. I am thankful to count Eric as a friend. His knowledge and experience are great assets; but his character and creativity compliment his whole approach. Thanks Eric for what you do to make people’s lives better because you care and follow the Master Carpenter.
Rev. Jeffrey G. Pruett, Sr., M.Div.