FARGO - Forget the frozen fish sticks. Those observing Lent will have an appealing alternative this Friday, March 16, when the Home Builders Care of Fargo-Moorhead Foundation will host the 55th annual Fish Fry from 5:30 to 9 p.m. at the Holiday Inn, 3803 13th Ave. S.

The event, of course, is not solely for those observing Lent. Organizers expect between 500 and 600 supporters at this year's fish fry.

It's the largest public fundraiser hosted by the charitable arm of the Home Builders Association of Fargo-Moorhead each year. Proceeds will be used to support housing projects like the construction of handicap-accessible ramps, Habitat for Humanity homes and scholarships for students pursuing construction-industry careers.

Monica Hart, the foundation's president, described the annual fish fry as a "very fun event."

"This is such a great fundraiser for us. It's very kid-friendly. There are activities for the kids. There's a photo booth. And, of course, the food is excellent," she said.

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The event will also feature a meat raffle, cash raffles, and silent and live auctions.

25th anniversary

Bryce Johnson, CEO of the Home Builders Association and administrator of Home Builders Care, said the foundation was formed as a way for the trade organization to help the community.

"They wanted to really show that the industry wanted to give back and that there were ways where we could pool our skills and our funds and resources together to do good and give back to the community," she said.

Since it was established in 1993, more than $$632,000 has been donated to area organizations and individuals through building projects and scholarships.

Johnson explained the foundation's two main objectives are outreach and education and community service.

Outreach begins with children as young as 5-years-old with events such as the annual Lego Home Building Competition held at the Home and Garden Show. For kids age 15 and older, the foundation supports the Herdina Academy, a two-week summer program that pairs students with contractors in fields such as carpentry, plumbing and electrical. For high school and college students, Home Builders Care also awards a number of scholarships each year to those interested in pursuing a career in a construction-related field.

Johnson said a future goal is to improve outreach to adults, whether they're displaced employees in search of a new career, new Americans or people who may have served prison time.

"Obviously, workforce development is huge for many different industries in the community, across the state and across the country. So, that's a particular part of our mission that's very important right now," Johnson said.

Home Builders Care has been involved in a number of building projects over the years. One example involved a partnership with the national organization Homes for Our Troops to build a home for U.S. Army veteran Eric Marts and his family. Marts was a master sergeant serving in Iraq in 2006 when blasts from two separate improvised explosive devices took his eyesight.

Johnson said the HBA and the foundation donated funds to the project, but its members also discounted materials and donated time.

Hart is proud of the generosity of her fellow HBA members.

"It's not that giving is an obligation. Our industry is just generous, and we want to help where we can," she said.


What: Home Builders Care of Fargo-Moorhead Fish Fry

When: 5:30 to 9 p.m. Friday, March 16

Where: Holiday Inn of Fargo, 3803 13th Ave. S.

Cost: Tickets are $15 and are available at the Home Builders Association of Fargo Moorhead office at 1802 32nd Ave. S., Fargo, or at the door.

Online: www.hbafm.com/hbc