Raffle of 5 playhouses to benefit Chrysalis House


Kenneth Riegert's house is enough to make a child's dream come true. And the money it raises will help 20 former drug or alcohol addicts and their children begin new lives.

Mr. Riegert's 9-foot-tall playhouse, the front of which is a tiny reproduction of Harbour Point, a waterfront mansion south of Annapolis, has three porches, handmade shingles and siding. It is one of five built by local developers that will be raffled off to raise money for Chrysalis House, a Pasadena-based women's halfway house.

All five playhouses are on display at Annapolis Mall until June 11, where volunteers for the Chrysalis House are selling the raffle TC tickets for $5 each or three for $10.

"It just blows my mind," said Carole Baker, president of the Chrysalis House board of directors and chairwoman of the project "Little Houses for Big Dreams." The houses are "much more than we expected."

"You see the decorative painting?" she said, pointing to the sky-painted walls inside the Harbour Point playhouse. "I had no idea they were going to do this."

The money will help buy furniture for a new building in Crownsville. The group's rancher off Jumpers Hole Road in Pasadena houses 10 women and three children, but the new, larger building can house twice as many women and 10 children.

Ms. Baker said the $1.7 million building is needed because the center turns away 30 to 50 women a week.

The new building also will allow the group to expand its program by teaching parental skills and by working with the children to discourage substance abuse, said Executive Director Lorene Lake.

"What we're trying to do is break that cycle of addiction," Ms. Lake said. "The children of substance users are at a higher risk to be substance users themselves."

Ms. Baker said the Chrysalis House board modeled its raffle after one by a Montgomery County child advocacy group that raised $33,000 in its first year. "We were trying to find a niche fund-raiser that wouldn't compromise what we stood for," she said.

"A lot of fund-raisers involve alcohol," she said. "The women have problems with alcohol and drugs."

The playhouses were built by local developers, all members of the Anne Arundel and Annapolis chapters of the Home Builders Association of Maryland. Dozens of other local companies donated materials and workers to help construct the structures, which are 9 to 11 feet tall and are adorned with donated plants and flowers.

The houses are painstakingly detailed, and some have special features.

The front of the Harbour Point playhouse has about 1,000 1-inch handmade shingles and about 500 pieces of handmade wooden siding, each individually attached to the house.

A gray and maroon Colonial-style playhouse is fully detailed on the front with five windows, 10 shutters, and a 2-foot door nestled between two relief-style columns. The full-size door is camouflaged on the side of the house as part of its chimney.

The log cabin is fully carpeted inside, and made from dozens of pieces of natural pine wood, smoothed and shaped to look like slices of a log. And the red and pine Kurkland County School No. 3 playhouse has a porch with stairs, lattice woodwork around its base and a long, dangling string so that children can ring the bell in the tower on top of the house.

Another playhouse is almost fit to live in. It has working lights, a faucet with a painted sink and a single detached burner from an electric stove. The house also has sliding windows and a wooden ladder that leads to an attic with octagon-shaped attic windows that open.

Kurt Coffman, community relations chairman for the local chapters of the Homebuilders Association, said the groups were delighted to participate in the project.

"I think the homebuilding industry wants to give back to the community and this is a way the industry can do it without saying 'here's money,' " he said.

On their first day of public display, the houses drew visitors who said they were impressed.

"I just think it's a great idea. I'd love to win one for my daughter," said Lisa DeFreitas, who bought six raffle tickets. She said she had "never seen playhouses this nice" but added that she was equally impressed by the cause.

"Anything for women I'll do," she said.

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