Les Owens, founder of LRO Residential, may have a dozen or more projects on his list at any given time, but that doesn’t mean the Park Cities homebuilder doesn’t make time for playhouses, especially when it’s for a good cause.
This year, Owens built his ninth playhouse for the 2018 Parade of Playhouses: a beach-themed house with nautical interiors, cedar siding, and a copper roof.
Parade of Playhouses has been a signature community and fundraising event for Dallas CASA since 1996.
The playhouses, he said, become a team effort for his family and subcontractors. Ownes sets the house each year on one of his job sites where everyone from the electrician to the architect touches it.
This year’s collection of 14 houses includes a Whataburger drive-through, a 1950s diner, and a modern home with flexible walls. Each house is unique and represents months of work designing, planning, building, finishing, and transporting to NorthPark Center.
While all of the homes are unique in their own right, Rosanne Lewis, Dallas CASA public relations manager, said Owens’ is a quintessential example of a playhouse.
His playhouses, she said, are creative and unique, and he aspires to build a quality product families would be proud to have in their backyards. He’s built a ski lodge, a fire station, and a barn. Last year’s Tudor-inspired whimsical cottage featured a curved front door, a copper roof, oak flooring, and full electrical.
Owens became involved with Dallas CASA in 2009, after the birth of his first child.
“I saw how much love and support he was given by our family and the great support system he was going to have growing up,” he said. “It made me realize what many kids are missing. I realized with my skills I could build a playhouse and help CASA help kids in the foster system.”
The playhouses, all custom-designed and built, are donated by local builders, architects, and corporations and are available to win by raffle on the last day of the 17-day event.
“Dallas CASA believes all children have the right to be safe and loved and allowed to reach their full potential,” said Kathleen LaValle, Dallas CASA’s executive director. “For the children we serve, these houses represent our dreams for them – safety, permanency and a place to call their own forever. Every day in Dallas, CASA volunteers are walking hand in hand with children on their journeys to permanent, loving homes. We all dream of a day when no child in need has to wish for a permanent place to grow up, safe and loved.”
Dallas CASA recruits, trains and supervises community volunteers to serve as voices in court for children removed from a home due to abuse or neglect. In 2017, more than 1,300 Dallas CASA volunteers helped 3,118 children living in the protective care of the state because it wasn’t safe at home.
The 23rd annual Parade of Playhouses will be on display at NorthPark Center from June 29 to July 15.