A lot of people know Dwayne and Tia Malone from all of the hard work and volunteering they have done at the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County (BGCDC) over the years.
The couple never expected to get anything back, because they always just enjoyed helping others, but BGCDC President & CEO Michael Johnson had something else in mind when he mentioned to his board of directors a couple of weeks ago that he wanted to do something very special for the Malones – specifically, help them to buy and refurbish a beautiful home on Madison’s west side where they could live with their two children.
And in less than two weeks, the people of Madison made it happen. In a special holiday home reveal, part of the BGCDC Pay it Forward Campaign, Dwayne and Tia Malone were presented the keys to their new home on Dec. 24 in an up-and-coming neighborhood on Madison’s west side.
“I am so excited for this amazing couple. They are two of the hardest working people I know and I am thankful we were able to help them purchase their first hone,” Johnson tells Madison365 in an interview from the brand-new house. “They deserve it!”
Johnson says that Dwayne Malone, the longtime BGCDC custodian and resident handyman, has been doing amazing work for the Boys and Girls Club for 12 years.
“He initially came to the club looking for a job and I couldn’t afford him at the beginning – we could barely make payroll, we were really struggling. But he agreed to do odds-and-ends jobs for that first two years and a half years – plumbing work, electrical work,” Johnson remembers.
In 2011, BGCDC was in need of a makeover and Malone spent time from Christmas to January 3rd painting the Taft Street Boys and Girls Club.
“And Dwayne volunteered to do that for us. That’s the kind of guy he is,” Johnson says. “Just about a month ago, they were at the downtown [Boys and Girls] Club on the square. Dwayne, his wife and his son were painting the floor at 11 o’clock at night! I said, ‘Dwayne, why do you have your family out here so late?’ He said, ‘That’s what we do! That’s how we give back to the community.'”
In between those paint jobs in 2011 and 2021, Malone has done quite a bit of volunteering, helping out, fixing, building, and taking on projects for the Boys and Girls Club including driving trucks to Missouri, Florida, Georgia and Oklahoma City when BGCDC raised funds and resources to help with hurricane relief efforts.
“He was the one that was driving our vans and coordinating our volunteers. He has saved us tens of thousands of dollars over the years not charging us money for many different things,” Johnson says.
All told, Johnson estimates that the Malones have volunteered hundreds of hours to the BGCDC and the community at large including painting and cleaning floors, cooking meals for families in need, delivering toys to kids over the holidays and volunteering on three other holiday home projects for other families.
Johnson got wind that the Malones had been saving for a house for many years but were a little short. And that the house they were looking to buy was an hour and twenty minutes away. That’s when he sprung into action.
“I’m so thankful we put out the call two weeks ago to do this and a lot of our donors stepped up. Not to give him a handout but a hand up. That’s what we’re doing here today,” Johnson says.
Johnson says that Laura Krelwitz Groenier and her design team at Silver Leaf donated their services to fully decorate the house and Dan Hawk helped to lead the internal operations. Board members stepped in to help get the financing with the Bank of Sun Prairie and to secure a low-interest rate and monthly mortgage payment. Jenny and Steve Santek were very instrumental in helping to get the financing done.
“I’m shocked how quickly we’ve been able to pull this together. We’ve had professional designers in here, people decorating trees, people putting together furniture,” Johnson says. “That patio furniture you see out there is about $3,000 and came all the way from the west side of Chicago … somebody I grew up with drove five hours roundtrip to deliver it.”
Donors ended up raising more than $100,000 total in just two weeks to remodel and refurbish the house and help with the downpayment. The project started in the bathroom and kitchen first, prioritizing first the shower door repair as well as the new kitchen countertop installation. Then high end home interior renovations were made. John and Jo Ellen McKenzie were the biggest donors on this holiday home, according to Johnson, giving $13,000 towards closing cost. They presented the Malones with the keys to the house at the big reveal on Dec. 24.
“Let me point out that Dwayne has saved up $60,000 over the last seven years himself for the downpayment,” Johnson says. “But the community really came together to help. When people heard it was Dwayne, he was so loved, and they were like, ‘Count me in. Here’s $5,000. Here’s $10,000. What can I do to help?’ I’m blown away that we’ve done this in two weeks.
“It’s amazing. So many volunteers from so many different walks of life came together to do this. It really made my day. I’ve never seen anything like this,” Johnson adds. “The kids in the community and the staff at Boys and Girls Club love Dwayne and his wife. He has so much energy and does so much good.”