March 5, 2015

Volunteers from DPR’s Austin office and the University of Texas Branch of the Society of Women Engineers (UT SWE) joined forces Feb. 20 to make a difference in the community.

DPR and University of Texas Society of Women Engineers (UT SWE) volunteers 'hook 'em' before getting to work. Photo courtesy Melissa Kosobud

A dozen members from the two organizations pooled their resources on a creek cleanup project at a LifeWorks transitional-housing apartment complex. LifeWorks, supported by the DPR Foundation, serves more than 10,000 individuals annually. DPR had previously been involved on several projects at the site, which includes a main office building as well as an apartment complex with housing for young parents and disabled youth.

The creek cleanup effort involved clearing brush, trash removal, and pulling weeds around a creek behind the apartment complex. The work transformed the area from a tangled mess into a more inviting, open space that can be easily maintained by the LifeWorks team. Work took place over the course of an afternoon. It followed a tour of the LifeWorks facility that allowed volunteers the chance to learn about the many ways LifeWorks is involved in supporting Austin’s disadvantaged youth.

The crew loaded a trailer full of brush, leaving behind a clean, welcoming creekbed for residents. Photo courtesy Melissa Kosobud

The day represented the first combined volunteer event between DPR and the UT SWE according to Melissa Kosobud, who helped coordinate the event for DPR. Formerly a member of SWE when she was in college in Illinois, Kosobud reached out to its UT branch when she came out to join the Austin office recently in an effort to establish ties between the two organizations.

“I think the benefits of joining forces are that SWE members get to meet and talk to other women in the construction field, we get to know potential intern/full time candidates better, and we’ve helped out a local nonprofit organization,” Kosobud said. “I really enjoyed seeing the DPR team mingling and joking around with the SWE members as we all worked together to clean up the creek. And seeing what a difference we made at the creek and the LifeWork’s team’s enthusiasm for the results was very rewarding.”