Roger and Michele Bird met while serving in the Air Force, stationed in West Germany prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall. It changed their lives, they grew up and came to faith while serving their country. After Roger and Michele left the service they went into the mission field in 1990 with Navigators International Interdenominational Christian Organization (Colorado Springs) for 2 years before finishing their education. While completing their education they started their family and both worked full-time jobs.
After graduating from college in Ohio, Roger and Michele moved to Detroit, and then to the west side of the state. The opportunity to move to Allegan came in the form of starting their church in 2008. Allegan is by far their favorite city. Michele says; “It’s a little city that doesn’t know its a little city”.
Two years ago, Roger and Michele Bird became fed up with working just to pay their mortgage. They knew that if they could downsize to something more aligned with their life goals and affordable, they’d be able to live so much more. In the fall of 2018, The Bird’s met with Community Action of Allegan County (CAAC) and found the solution they were looking for through CAAC’s Dual Community Development Program (DCDP).
DCDP is a new initiative with the vision to break the cycle of poverty in Allegan County by offering entry-level training in the construction trades while building affordable, low maintenance, energy efficient homes. With the Bird’s desire for a highly-functional home that speaks to their willingness and passion to positively impact the community, it was apparent how the Birds and CAAC’s visions dovetailed together, and construction on the first ever DCDP House began, given the nickname, “The Bird House.”
These visions partnered with the experience of Macatawa Homes’ General Contractor for the project, Matt Zomerlei, Owner/Operator of Macatawa Homes and a Marine Corps Veteran, with over 25 years of industry experience. Matt became involved in the program after hearing about the mission of DCDP from CAAC Program Development Coordinator, Christian Deuel. Matt sees affordable housing as a necessary piece of the construction industry. “I want to live in a world where everyone has a decent place to live. It doesn’t seem right to live in a first world nation with continuing third world challenges.”
DCDP’s ingenuity and fresh take on addressing affordable housing excites Matt. “It can be frustrating as a builder at times to see that we continue to apply the same methods we have for years in housing affordability and expect different results.”
The Bird House began construction in January and will be completed in May. Both Roger and Michele agree, “It’s a great dream! To actually see that lives can be changed by creating viable solutions like affordable housing and promoting a healthy and safe community. We can be part of the solution! This is what happens when a community comes together!”
Roger and Michele are paying it forward and are working with CAAC to find other businesses, organizations, and individuals who share a passion of breaking the cycle of poverty and providing better lives for the people of Allegan County. To learn more about the program visit communityactionallegan.org or call 269.673.5472, extension 236.