Builder Of Homes, Rebuilder Of Lives
Don Ball began reshaping lives in Lexington and other Kentucky communities in 1993 when he and his wife Mira founded the Hope Center to address the underlying causes of homelessness, including addiction.
A Passion For Building
Before becoming a nationally known philanthropist, Don Ball was a nationally known home builder. Launched in 1959, Ball Homes has built thousands of Kentucky residences, creating in the process a number of well-known neighborhoods such as “Masterson Station” in Lexington, “Brannon Oaks” in Nicholasville, “The Landing at Pleasant Valley” in Georgetown, and “Cedar Ridge” and “Rose Ridge” in Versailles. The company has in recent years expanded to Louisville and to Tennessee and is now ranked one of the top 100 home-building companies in America.
A Passion For Helping
A self-made business titan, Don Ball was also someone with enormous compassion for those less fortunate. Steadfastly committed to building foundations of hope and healing, Don Ball left an enduring legacy of service to others.
In addition to building the Hope Center in 1993, Don undertook a number of other charitable construction projects, all built at cost, including Virginia Place, the Chrysalis House apartments, Shepherd’s House, and the Hope Center’s dining facility and supportive housing for homeless people suffering from mental illnesses.
Don and Mira served for years on the Kentucky Housing Corp., which Don chaired. A member of the Kentucky General Assembly in the 1960s, Don Ball also served as co-chair of the Recovery Kentucky Task Force which helped establish a network of residential recovery centers across the Commonwealth that came to be known as Recovery Kentucky. The centers, which eventually grew to 18 in number, were modeled on the Hope Center the Balls founded in 1993.
“In public service, business, and philanthropy,” said U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, “Don and his wife Mira touched countless lives with their kindness and generosity. His talents were only matched by his passion for serving those in need.”
Sensitive to what it meant to be of a different ethnic background, Don and Mira were strong supporters of the BMW (Black Males Working) Academy and the Urban League of Lexington-Fayette County which helps provide affordable housing for inner-city residents.
Ball Homes and the Ball family are also long-time supporters of Habitat for Humanity, the Alzheimer’s Association, the United Way, KET, the Salvation Army, the American Cancer Society, Relay for Life, Big Brothers Big Sisters, the University of Kentucky, Junior Achievement, the Junior League Horse Show, and a host of other charity organizations and events.
Don and Mira Ball were honored with many awards for their community service, including BUILDER Magazine, which recognized him with its first Hearthstone BUILDER Humanitarian Award.
In 2000, both Don and Mira Ball were honored with the Optimist Cup Award and in 2004 with the A.B. “Happy” Chandler Foundation’s Kentuckian Award.
In 2009, Ball Homes sponsored the first annual Ball Homes Night of Hope, a benefit for Lexington’s Hope Center.
In 2011, Don and Mira Ball were honored as recipients of the W.T. Young Lifetime Achievement Award from the Lexington Chamber of Commerce. The award recognizes persons who have achieved unparalleled success in business and who have also made significant other contributions to the public well-being in Lexington and the state of Kentucky.
1n 2012, co-founders Don and Mira Ball were inducted into the Home Builders Association of Lexington’s Hall of Fame in recognition of service to the state of Kentucky and the homebuilding community.
Don, an alumni, and Mira chaired the University of Kentucky Board of Trustees and in 2016 were awarded honorary doctorates of humane letters for their extraordinary contributions to philanthropy, human development, education, and social well-being.
Recent philanthropic efforts include support of Hoops for Haiti and UK’s Dance Blue marathon to benefit children with cancer and their families as well as the Lexington Philharmonic Benefit Concert fund-raiser sponsored by the University of Kentucky’s “HealthCare’s Overture to Healing.”
The Balls also founded Donamire Farm, a picturesque thoroughbred horse farm in Lexington that became the site of many charity events.
Don Ball, who died in 2018, was survived by his wife, Mira, sons Ray and Mike, and daughter Lisa Ball.
To watch a video about Don and Mira Ball’s lifetime of charitable giving created by Kentucky Educational Television click Don and Mira Ball Video.
For information about the Don Ball Foundation that helped launch the Recovery Kentucky model, click on the Don Ball Recovery Center Of Excellence.