2×4’s for Hope names new executive director, plans to continue building homes

2x4's for Hope

QUINCY — 2×4’s For Hope, a Quincy-based organization that helps build homes for homeless and at-risk veterans, plans to continue building homes in 2022 under the guidance of a new executive director.

Jordan Lenz, who had served the organization as its administrative assistant, was named executive director at the December meeting of the board of directors for 2×4’s for Hope.

The board of directors voted Nov. 13 to remove Mark Lawrence as president and Chris Lawrence as treasurer. The Lawrences, who founded the group in 2015, were removed from the board entirely.

Quincy attorney Gerry Timmerwilke filed a temporary restraining order Nov. 12 on behalf of the 2×4’s For Hope board to keep the Lawrences away from the charity’s finances and property. Board members and associates removed 2×4’s for Hope property — computers, tools, trailers and other construction equipment — from the Lawrences’ premises in Melrose Township, where most of it had been stored.

2×4’s for Hope helps build 576-square-feet homes that are furnished and constructed by members of the community.

“Our organization has faced some difficult situations since removing our founders in November,” a press release from Lenz read. “However, the 2×4’s For Hope Board of Directors remain steadfast in continuing the mission. We owe it to our volunteers, donors and, most important, our veterans to continue, no matter how difficult it may be.”

2×4’s for Hope also is joining forces with Quincy Medical Group and the Quincy Medical Group Foundation to build a home for a veteran this summer. QMG presented a check for $65,300 to the organization on Nov. 11, and the Quincy Park District donated land on the northwest corner of Second and Spruce. 

“It’s important for us to support this organization, despite the circumstances they had to endure,” Morgan Parker, director of community relations at QMG, said in the release. “Their mission still stands true. We believe that moving forward with our build will provide meaningful change in a veteran’s life for years to come.” 

“This partnership with Quincy Medical Group is an enormous step in a positive direction,” interim Board president Kevin Murphy said in the release. “We assured the foundation leadership when meeting with them that we were committed to being good stewards to all donations — both corporate and consumer — as we push forward to provide our country’s heroes with quality affordable housing.”

A civil suit has been filed against the Lawrences and attorneys for the two sides appeared before Judge Scott Larson on Tuesday.

Gerry Timmerwilke, attorney for 2×4’s for Hope, filed a motion to default on January 31, citing the following:

Don Schuering, attorney for the Lawrence’s, responded to the motion and said his clients would be “exonerated” in the criminal investigation that is also underway:

Larson ordered the response to be in by February 10 and the two sides will be back in court on February 15.

Adams County State’s Attorney Gary Farha told Muddy River News he learned of the situation in early November. He confirmed the Illinois State Police is investigating the matter.

Farha said he learned tools donated to 2×4’s for Hope by Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation — a Brookfield, Wis., company which develops, manufactures and markets power tools — began appearing at Jacksonville and Galesburg Warehouse Bargains stores. The tools were meant for use in the construction of housing for veterans.

Farha said checks from Quincy Warehouse Bargains were not made out to 2×4’s for Hope but instead to Mark Lawrence, who allegedly did not transfer the funds into the charity’s accounts. Farha also said multiple checks for tens of thousands of dollars allegedly were made out from 2×4’s for Hope to Lawrence Construction, a business owned by Mark Lawrence that ceased operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

2×4’s For Hope has built 11 homes — Adams, Brown, Hancock, Schuyler, Logan, and Madison counties — since 2018. 

People interested in donating time or money should call 2×4’s For Hope at 217-779-8779. Visit www.2x4forhope.org to learn more about the organization and its mission, as well as instructions on how to sign up to volunteer for upcoming builds. Monetary donations can be mailed to P.O. Box 183, Quincy Ill., 62306.

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