McKinnell House / Cares for Kids  Testimonial

The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army SAFE Campus

Dear Gary,

What a privilege it is to provide a letter of support to include with Neeser Construction’s submission to the Design Build Institute of America, recognizing the partnership between Neeser and The Salvation Army to complete the design-build SAFE Campus project in Anchorage.

The Salvation Army first began dreaming and planning for the replacement of the old McKinnell House in the summer of 2002. The aged facility had served its purpose since 1979 and was in desperate need of replacement. (We jokingly shared with those who toured the building it was being held together with duct tape.) Over the years, hundreds of families had come through the doors of The Salvation Army McKinnell House and successfully transitioned from its simple rooms into permanent housing and productive lives. As Anchorage’s population continued to increase, so did the number of families needing temporary, emergency shelter. When we started the process of moving to a new facility, we were serving approximately 50% of the families who needed temporary shelter. By the time the project was complete, those figures had changed significantly, as we were serving approximately 1/3 of the number of families in need of shelter.

Our plan, initially, was to find an affordable existing building to remodel for our intended purpose. Working with local real estate professional, Ed Zehrung, we looked at several options, but none seemed to be the right it or had too many restrictions to make them viable for our project.

When it seemed like we might have to shelve this project, a parcel of land was brought to our attention, and The Salvation Army was introduced to Mr. Jerry Neeser. While the first property didn’t work Jerry was excited about the opportunity to help support The Salvation Army in his community and showed us another parcel of land, close to the existing McKinnell House that was available.

The Salvation Army needed a champion to work closely to help us navigate through the community council approval process, understanding zoning issues and regulations and to providing professional materials that enhanced our funding proposals for the project. The Neeser team was supportive, lending their expertise and helping ensure this project would be successful in achieving our goal of providing a safe place to serve the needs of homeless families in our community, improving the quality of life for older Alaskans and to help prevent child abuse.

The investment of the Neeser Construction team, was a clear demonstration of their commitment to community. They spent countless hours working with our professional staff to ensure the facility design would be adequate to meet our needs for many years, they readily provided additional details and documentation to address questions and concerns from Salvation Army administration, and helped us know the right questions to ask in order to keep the project moving forward, completing it ahead of schedule and on budget.

One example of the quality of the Neeser Construction team was demonstrated by Pat Budke, the project manager. He welcomed our staff, and hosted tours as we shared the project with the Anchorage community. He truly became part of our Salvation Army team and his passion for this project was easily evident with everyone who toured the project, from the Lt. Governor to the President of the Rasmuson Foundation, from local legislators to our Advisory Board members. He was available to provide access to the project site for tours on weekends and holidays because he understood how important it was to share these programs with those who make decisions on behalf of our community.

Since the project was completed last August, there is a new awareness and appreciation for the work of The Salvation Army in serving the needs of our community. We have increased our capacity to care for homeless two-parent families and single dads with children, we have streamlined food service operations to better serve frail elders in our community and we continue to offer safe haven for the most innocent victims in our community, abused children.

While I came into this project after it was already underway, I am truly privileged to have had opportunity to work alongside such a wonderful team of professionals and am extremely pleased to add my enthusiastic endorsement of Neeser Construction’s award application.


Major Douglas Tollerud
Divisional Commander
Alaska Division

-Major Douglas Tollerud, Divisional Commander Alaska Division , The Salvation Army Safe Campus


SAFE Campus Dedication Celebration


Dear Jerry:

I want to express my personal appreciation for your participation at the SAFE Campus Dedication Celebration last week. I was most humbled by your warm words of congratulations and most generous support for the ministry of The Salvation Army in serving the people of Alaska.

Working with the Neeser team to help bring our dream to life was truly amazing! When we toured the site with guests, they would often notice the crew was just as passionate about the project as our staff. They understood the important role these programs would have in serving the needs of people in our community. Thanks to the generous support of many in our community, especially the Neeser team, we have inaugurated a new chapter of service to Alaskans in our community.

Thank you again, Jerry, for your generosity and support throughout this project. Your support will help The Salvation Army march forward as we continue “doing the most good” for the least of our brethren.


Doug Tollerud
Major Divisional Commander

-Doug Tollerud, Major Divisional Commander , SAFE Campus Dedication Celebration