January 30, 2014

DPR’s Austin office recently made good on its commitment to LifeWorks, one of the 15 organizations supported by the DPR Foundation, and improved the quality of life for some of Austin’s affordable housing residents at the same time.

On Jan. 18, 15 DPR volunteers went to work on the second scope of a project started last June at a newly opened 45-unit affordable housing development that will house low-income Austin youth and families. Dubbed The Works at Pleasant Valley, the apartment complex is sited on the campus of LifeWorks’ Sooch Foundation Youth and Family Resource Center and will serve the most economically vulnerable of Austin’s youth and families. Residents will have access to a wide range of educational and workforce training opportunities, including Austin Community College’s adjacent Eastview Campus, and new public gathering spaces and recreational areas thanks to DPR.

After completing the landscaping of a median below a new solar panel-roofed covered parking area on the project site last June, the DPR crew awaited the project’s completion before returning for the second scope, which involved a new park and playground area. After being stalled twice by inclement weather, the team was finally able to return to the site and build a new playground, picnic tables and barbecue pits, as well as install landscaping and mulch around the play areas. OES outfitted volunteers with equipment and tools to do the job, including a bobcat, post-hole diggers, shovels, picks and other hand tools. Texas Lawn Service volunteers were on hand to add their expertise to the landscaping portions of work.

The new recreational areas will vastly improve the quality of life of the apartment complex’s residents, many of whom are teenage parents, youth aging out of foster care or young adults who have experienced cycles of homelessness.

“The new playground is icing on the cake for our beautiful new housing development; children are laughing and playing right outside the door to their new homes! LifeWorks is working to help these families achieve self-sufficiency. We are fortunate to have DPR Construction on board as a partner helping our organization serve even more people,” said LifeWorks COO Mitch Weyand.

The playground and picnic project took the volunteers 10 hours to complete and was opened to residents as move-in to the complex began the following week.

LifeWorks serves more than 10,000 individuals each year through 19 programs and services to the Greater Austin community. Its goal is to create individuals that are self-sufficient by providing them with a firm foundation for success. Most of the youth it serves have had their early lives filled with abuse, neglect, abandonment and instability. LifeWorks focuses on building their self-esteem, literacy and educational skills, as well as providing them opportunities to develop their soft and hard skills in order to enter the workforce.

LifeWorks is one of 15 youth organizations nationally awarded a total of $900,000 in grants by the DPR Foundation in December 2013. Since 20012, the Foundation has supported LifeWorks with grants totaling $90,000 that benefit programs that support their clients, including classroom supplies and G.E.D. testing fees. Over the past six years, the Foundation has awarded more than $3.2 million to 22 different organizations focused on providing community support to grade school and high school-aged children.