Our last Build Trip of 2022 took place right before the holiday season, making spirits bright for families in El Salvador and volunteers from Malibu, Miami, and Denver. 

I’m thrilled that Britt Chester, a real estate professional from Denver, CO, could join us and share his experience with you here. 

Take a look inside this memorable Build Trip…

Real Estate and Philanthropy

One of the amazing things about real estate companies is their massive philanthropic impact around the world. 

Open up any real estate news tab on your browser, and there’s a good chance you’ll be reading about an agent who helped a family relocate during a difficult time; a brokerage setting a new record for donations to a food bank; a community of Realtors rebuilding their town after a natural disaster; a group of real estate professionals traveling to build homes in El Salvador with an international partner.

I am, of course, using the latter example to highlight Giveback Homes, an organization helmed by Caroline Pinal, driven by Realtors all over the United States, and powered by an idea that everyone deserves a place to call home.

Through Giveback Homes’ partnership with Concierge Auctions, the Key for Key™ Giving Program uses proceeds from every Concierge Auctions sale to provide a home for a family in Latin America. 

Literally, a key for a key.

This past November, the Key for Key Giving Program joined volunteers from TECHO to complete 11 homes for families in Sacacoyo, El Salvador. 

And although Giveback Homes’ build trips and build days are often brokerage-centric, this final international trip brought together a group of real estate professionals from Los Angeles, Denver and Miami. Below is a photographic journal to provide insight into what you can expect when you join Giveback Homes. Aside from the memories, you walk away with a more thorough understanding of your impact, not just in your local market but all over the world.

Day 1

Giveback Homes

From L-R: Britt Chester, Madison Hildebrand, Caroline Pinal, Gina Kirkpatrick

Our crew arrived staggered on Friday, but ultimately everyone met at a bizarro restaurant called Picnic. By “bizarro,” I mean we were on a volcano with animatronic elephants and giraffes, a carousel, and a giant slide… and this was a steakhouse. So far, El Salvador is all aces in my book. A quick night’s sleep and we were off to Sacacoya in the morning.

Home Dedication

Giveback Homes

The home dedication ceremony started with everyone offering their hopes and visions for the family and their new home. We each signed the pylon with our name and a word of encouragement before getting started laying the floor. The first few hours of the build were a fun combination of broken translations, smiles and nods of affirmation (this is avoided if you speak Spanish, however, mine is sadly quite limited).


Giveback Homes

Once we placed the floor, the next step was to flush up the walls. This, in my opinion, was the fastest way to build a relationship with new friends. Teams of four and five pick up a side of the wall and place it before securing it to the floor. You get one shot at this, and our team nailed it (pun intended). It was also at this point that I saw the children’s eyes get really wide, as if they could now see just what was being built for them.

Giveback Homes

Seeing the home come together is a remarkable thing. After the walls are placed, the roof supports are cut to size and fitted along the top of the structure. TECHO volunteers have built hundreds and thousands of these homes and know the process nearly down to the number of nails for each home.

Day 2

Giveback Homes

Everyone’s enthusiasm was so high, and it was incredible to bear witness to a large group of strangers building a home as well as a personal relationship. The children were running around handing tools off or holding a bag of nails. Stephen (pictured), the oldest son of the family our crew was working with, was all smiles as he provided comedic support and, at times, hammered a nail or two.

Take a Break

Giveback Homes

The second day requires a lot of moving parts, and with the humidity and high temperatures, it’s important to take all the necessary breaks. However, despite this community being filled with rockstars of volunteers, the youngest daughter demands she be the Princess of the day.

Finished Home

Giveback Homes

What felt like a few minutes of sweating was a weekend of laughter among community. Where language may have presented a barrier at the beginning, it was menial compared to the shared joy of working together and making new friends. 

The final step of the build comes when the family is presented with a key to their new home – a closing ceremony of sorts filled with tears of joy, laughs and the hope of many years of lasting memories.

To join Giveback Homes and be part of #realestateforsocialgood, go to givebackhomes.com.