Steve Hill, founder and CEO of AEgis Technologies, worked alongside his father, a retired Army colonel, and his 19-year-old son at the house off Meridian Street. The home had been gutted after years and years of wear, and they were volunteering to help install roof trusses. Steve’s grandfather was a carpenter who passed those skills down to his father, and Steve’s son was exceptionally handy as well. But Steve didn’t exactly get the handyman gene. He was more on the technical side of things.
While those trusses they installed were important, they were only part of a much larger project in Huntsville.
Steve serves as the vice chair for Lincoln Village, the Huntsville ministry working to rebuild the dilapidated mill houses In the Lincoln Village community. Three generations of Hill men teamed up that day to rebuild one of the homes that will be rented out to residents who agree to live drug free, cause no trouble and pay rent.
Dale Bowen oversees the residential side of Lincoln Village. He said that the Hill family was the first time three generations had ever worked side by side on the homes at Lincoln Village.
“It was encouraging,” Dale said. “We have a lot of gentlemen his father’s age, then we have a lot of people Steve’s age and his son’s age, but to see all three from one family committed to the same purpose was really encouraging.”
Truss by truss, nail by nail and lesson by lesson, volunteers are changing lives for the people who live in Lincoln Village.
“We can keep Band-Aiding this,” Steve said. “We can try to educate people. We can try to do a lot of things, but if their lives and hearts aren’t right, how much good is it really going to do?”
Lincoln Village Ministry has a growing reputation in Huntsville, but the first thing people think of is the school.
Lincoln Academy occupies the old Lincoln Elementary School building. Huntsville City Schools closed the doors on Lincoln Elementary, but volunteers fought to have it reopened as a private school. In four years, Lincoln Academy has grown from 22 students to almost 100 students—all of whom are dedicated to working hard to further their education.
“I think what’s really important to understand about Lincoln Village is, it’s not just about educating the kids,” Steve said. “It’s about spiritual development of people in the community. It’s about teaching them…It’s about giving them a good place to live.”
Hand Up, Not A Hand Out
A few years ago, a friend invited Steve to hear Mark Stearns, founder of Lincoln Village Ministries, speak at a luncheon. See, Mark has lived through a lot of the same things the residents of Lincoln Village were going through—violence, drugs, everything that goes along with that lifestyle.
That speech moved Steve to action, and he asked what the school needed. They mentioned the science lab—an appealing topic for the founder of a tech company—but said they could only use it when it wasn’t too hot or too cold. The building had no HVAC system.
It turns out, Steve had the resources and contacts to get a new HVAC system installed. In no time, the students were back in the lab year round.
“If you’re breathing, and you care about people, you kind of can’t go and be around Lincoln Village without getting teary eyed or being really affected by watching the changes in peoples’ lives and…moms that have been through a lot of difficult stuff getting hope,” Steve said. “If you had to boil it down to one word…what Lincoln Village does more than anything else is, it takes people that have come from various tough circumstances of no hope, and it gives them hope. And when people have hope, then they’ll work, and they’ll try, and they’ll get better, and they’ll accomplish a lot of great things.
“These programs work because you give people a hand up, not a hand out.”
AEgis Technologies is a company built on principle. Steve and his founding partner, Bill Waite, decided early on they had a responsibility to give back to the community.
“We figured out, over time, that if you have a level of success at all, you’re really obligated, we believe, and it’s the right thing to do to pay it forward,” Steve said. “It’s really about paying it forward. So, if we’ve had some success, if we’ve made some money, if we have an opportunity, what are we going to do for our communities?”
The company has a special team—AEgis Serves—that meets to discuss specific outreach projects and vote on which ones to pursue. While the company gets many requests for money each year, they make it a priority to support those opportunities that directly affect employees—like Steve’s devotion to helping the people of Lincoln Village.
“Our people just care about kids,” Steve said. “A lot of the things that we do have to do with kids. I think it makes sense because, in our modern society and all the social goals that we’re all concerned about, everyone is concerned about young people and the next generation of our country.”
Employees at AEgis have worked to rebuild homes at Lincoln Village, hosted the Special Olympics and volunteered at the Village of Promise, not to mention the countless other nonprofits they’re involved with or the little league teams they coach.
It’s a company that gives back, but they’re very clear it’s not for the recognition.
AEgis employees give back because they’ve been blessed, and they want to share that with others.