Diane Shelton

Diane Shelton

Diane Shelton works as a marketing professional. She has been with DPR since 1999. With a degree in journalism, if she wasn’t doing this, she would be a war correspondent for the Associated Press.

Posts: 111
Location: Austin, Texas
Favorite hobby: Riding my bike
Hometown: Berkeley, CA
Favorite book: Where I’m Calling From by Raymond Carver
Posts In: Communities

June 28, 2016

DPR Helps Boys & Girls Club of Tampa Bay Expand Program

A recent DPR-led volunteer project that renovated classroom space at a Boys & Girls Club of Tampa Bay facility is fulfilling a vital community need by enabling the Club to expand its program offerings and ultimately, to serve more local youth – just in time for the students’ summer break.

The involved approximately 15 craft and administrative workers from DPR’s Tampa office, who put in a collective 189 hours to make improvements to a key area of the aging clubhouse. The project renovated and converted a single, long room used for program space for K-5th graders – space formerly subdivided by thin paper curtains – into three separate classrooms. The rooms are now visually and acoustically separated by solid walls, and each room has its own door for separate egress.

Before the volunteer-led renovation the Club had a single, large room for youth programming.  

The renovation transformed the large space into three classrooms, allowing the Club to host more academic enrichment programs at the same time.

In addition to constructing new walls to subdivide the classroom space, volunteers also painted the walls and trim, installed new baseboard and new ceiling tiles and stripped and re-waxed the floors (the latter contributed by a local flooring company). Additional DPR funds are being used to purchase new furniture to outfit the space and for several computer monitors.

The much-needed project will allow a greater number and diversity of classes to be offered simultaneously to the many local students who rely on the Boys & Girls Club facility to provide safe, secure and enriching after school and summer programs, according to DPR’s MaryAnn Skok.

“They can now have more academic enrichment programs going at the same time,” she pointed out.

The DPR Foundation awarded the Boys & Girls Club of Tampa Bay $15,000 in grant funding at the end of 2015 and has recognized it as a key community partner.

DPR volunteers were joined by volunteers from FleischmanGarcia Architects, as well as a local Sherwin Williams, the latter of which donated all of the paint.

Chris Letsos, President and CEO for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay, said the willingness of local businesses to partner with them makes a huge difference for the Club and their ability to provide vital services to the local community.

“It is only through the dedication of community partners, such as DPR Construction, that the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay is able to provide a world class Club experience for the youth that need us the most,” Letsos said. “The Wilbert Davis Belmont Heights Club is a beacon for the families living in the surrounding neighborhood, providing a safe space where young people can spend time to learn, grow and be productive. The recent project completed by the team at DPR Construction will allow us to expand programming and serve more youth, more often.”

The new space will be used for a variety of hands-on, interactive learning activities and enrichment programs, including programs such as a “healthy habits” program, street smart program, arts and crafts and other offerings. 

June 6, 2016

Watch DPR Transform An Empty Classroom Into Three Sound Studios

DPR's Community Initiatives team in Austin, Texas turned it up to 11 to transform an empty room at Kealing Middle School into three new sound studios over spring break. 

May 26, 2016

Community Initiatives Team Transforms Programming Space for AbilityFirst

On May 14, some 100 DPR volunteers in Southern California put the company’s focus on skills-based volunteering to work, transforming a neglected outdoor space into a fully landscaped haven for nonprofit AbilityFirst. The organization serves children and adults with physical and developmental disabilities and special needs. The newly landscaped space provides AbilityFirst clients with additional room for programming and provides a visual boost from the previously overgrown, unappealing site.

The landscaping overhaul provides AbilityFirst with additional programming space, allowing them to provide more services for more clients. Photo courtesy Brennan Cooke.

The results speak for themselves, according to Maddie Schotl, who organized the community service project for DPR’s Southern California offices. She described the end product as a “complete transformation.”

The project entailed a variety of demolition components to prepare the area, including tree removal, stump grinding, and fence and structure removal. Crews then completely reworked the space, adding hundreds of new plants, a new irrigation system, two new shade structures, a renovated shed and numerous planter boxes, among other things. Working side-by-side with DPR, subcontractor BrightView stepped up to volunteer material and services involving the larger landscape elements, new plants/trees and the irrigation system. Local waste company Recology donated dumpsters and sent 10 volunteers to help out on the workday as well.

DPR’s concrete and drywall crews played an integral role with the major landscaping and renovation elements, including preparing or completing various aspects of the work in the days and weeks leading up to the volunteer workday project. Photo courtesy Brennan Cooke.

 “We ended up doing a complete overhaul,” Schotl noted. DPR not only executed the carefully crafted landscape plan that AbilityFirst had devised, but also added additional touches that contributed to creating a highly appealing outdoor space. DPR’s concrete and drywall crews played an integral role with several of the landscaping and renovation elements, preparing or completing various aspects of the work in the days and weeks leading up to the volunteer workday project. All totaled, DPR donated an estimated $35,000 in skilled craft services leading up to the volunteer-led workday.

Photo courtesy Brennan Cooke.

The skills and expertise of DPR craftsmen are fully displayed in the finished product. Among other components, they designed and crafted several ADA compliant “tree hugger” benches, which enabled people in wheelchairs to garden underneath them.


DPR's self perform craftsmen designed and built ADA compliant tree-hugger benches, which allow people in wheelchairs to garden underneath them. Photo courtesy Brennan Cooke.

“The clients’ eyes really lit up when they saw the finished product; it made it all worth it seeing how excited they were,” said Schotl. 

May 11, 2016

Elementary School Receives Needed Boost From DPR Leadership and Rebuilding Together

DPR’s commitment to be integral and indispensable to the communities where it works starts at the top. That point was driven home recently when 45 individuals from the executive management committee and unit leaders from DPR offices across the country came together for a service project at an under-resourced Bay Area elementary school.

During an annual four-day business summit, the DPR leaders took an afternoon off April 12 to get their hands dirty working on a project that delivered needed improvements for students at Webster Elementary School in Daly City.

The workday started off with a Stretch & Flex session. Photo courtesy Everett Rosette. 

The project was coordinated through Rebuilding Together, a community based organization that DPR works with across the U.S. The service project illustrated DPR’s emphasis on skills-based initiatives that tap into employees’ core competencies, namely building and engineering, to make a difference in local communities.

It also was just plain fun, according to Rena Crittendon, community initiatives coordinator for the Bay Area region.

“There was a lot of feedback about what a great time they had, how it was a great bonding experience and how good it felt to get out there and make a difference for those children,” Crittendon said. “This project was a highlight of the summit and really got them motivated to take the inspiration back to their regions to pursue these types of initiatives.”

Photo courtesy Everett Rosette. 

The work entailed adding a bench and planters in three quad areas of the school grounds, repairing and painting school benches, and freshening and repainting a host of games on the blacktop, ranging from four square to basketball courts.

DPR’s concrete crews will be returning to the school next month to form and pour a 100-ft. pathway that the school also requested, as part of the partnership initiative with Rebuilding Together.

Photo courtesy Everett Rosette. 

In addition to their longstanding focus on safe and healthy housing, Rebuilding Together is positioning itself as a leading provider of community revitalization efforts. Projects like this for Webster Elementary elevate the quality of life for individuals area-wide, leading to a more safe, healthy and thriving community.

April 24, 2016

DPR Improvement Project Makes Lasting Impact at Milagro Center

When it comes to DPR community initiatives undertaken in markets across the country, the immediate benefits are often apparent. Whether it’s a low income family moving into a new home that DPR helped build through Habitat for Humanity, or underprivileged kids getting their first bikes via DPR-supported Turning Wheels for Kids, DPR’s diverse community outreach projects meet many vital community needs.

But what about the longer-term effect of these service projects? For an example of the lasting impact that DPR initiatives can have, look no further than a youth center improvement project completed for the Milagro Center in Delray Beach, FL last fall.

The DPR-led initiative entailed supplying and installing about 100 feet of computer countertops at Milagro Center’s Teen Center, working in concert with local trade partners. The goal: to create a more spacious, organized and appealing space for students to do their homework utilizing new computers that were also donated around the same time.

Anthony Bacchus, Milagro Center’s Teen Leadership Program Director, said the improvement project set in motion a series of positive outcomes for both the teens and the Center.

“Now that we have the new workstations the center looks more studious and the presentation is more attractive to the teens, teachers, parents and our sponsors,” Bacchus said. “It’s a better work environment, and they take more pride in it. When you have a good work station you stay more organized. We’ve had teens whose grades went from ‘F’ to ‘A’ over the last school semester.”

Bacchus added that the new countertops, along with new computers donated by The Batchelor Foundation, make the Center more appealing for future investment by community donors. “Every little change makes a difference,” he said. “It’s also helped with our focus on trying to get parents involved. They can look at our environment here and see it looks good. We have teens come from as far as Boynton Beach High School to do their homework and get tutoring here.”

The renovated homework space has resulted in improved grades among teen center members. Photo courtesy Luke Stocking.

Luke Stocking, DPR liaison to Milagro Center, spearheaded the project. He noted that while the countertop installation project only took a few hours to put in place one morning last September, the measurable benefits – both tangible and intangible – continue on.

“I think it’s been a confidence boost for the kids themselves that the center is becoming more professional looking,” Stocking said. “It not so piecemealed with left over tables and chairs. They take their time here more seriously than maybe they had been doing before.”

The teens themselves say that the project has made an impact in how they feel about spending time at the center after school each day. “By (DPR) putting some nice counter tops, now I can do my work without interruption and I finally have my own work station to do my homework and research in peace,” commented Milagro Center teen Ferrari Bernadotte.

Teen Marc Charles, who also uses the Center after school each day, said, “My first time coming to the Milagro Center I already had the feeling I was it was going to benefit me. The counter tops were clean and I saw lots of kids on computers doing homework. It (gave) the benefits I need like space, concentration and my own little working environment without having to be distracted by others.”

April 5, 2016

DPR, Spotify, Rebuilding Together Help Austin School Get Its Groove On

A cool new beat can be heard coming from Kealing Middle School in Austin, Tex. these days – all thanks to a major community service initiative undertaken by a partnership of Spotify, DPR and Rebuilding Together to deliver new sound studios and a bounty of music mixing equipment to a local school.

DPR volunteers and self perform work crews turned it up to 11 to transform an empty room at Kealing Middle School into three new sound studios over spring break. Photo courtesy Angie Weyant.

Spotify, well-known for its streaming music service, conceived of the charitable project as a way to make a lasting, positive mark on the Austin community in the wake of the annual South by Southwest festival held in early March. They decided to donate the extensive sound equipment, furniture and art from their popular “Spotify House” from this year’s festival to a local school’s music program. Spotify reached out to Rebuilding Together to help find the right candidate and the means to deliver their vision. 

Kealing Middle School – a magnet school and comprehensive academy in a diverse, under-resourced neighborhood – was the perfect fit. It already had a modern, organized music program in place and a strong vision for how it could grow. Knowing DPR’s strong community commitment and based on their longstanding relationship, Rebuilding Together brought DPR on board to help design and build three brand new recording lab studios that would house the Spotify-donated equipment.

Angie Weyant, DPR’s community service liaison and a leader in the Austin region, helped manage what turned out to be a major undertaking from start to finish.

“We took the whole project from conception to construction to make it happen,” she said of the design-build services that DPR donated – totaling an estimated $25,000 in materials and labor, not counting the unpaid management time. While planning, budgeting and preconstruction for the project began early in the year, construction of the new production studios could only take place over the school’s spring break. The work required over 800 man hours, with DPR Drywall and Paint Self Perform Work crews working long hours to complete the work in just under 10 days.

This mural, from the Spotify House venue at the South by Southwest festival, was created by New York Artist Shantell Martin. It depicts all the types of music that can be streamed on Spotify. Photo courtesy Angie Weyant.

To meet the acoustical engineer’s design specifications for the new production studios, DPR crews hung some 7,174 square feet of drywall in the three rooms – three layers on each side of the wall and ceiling. “It was more drywall than we’ve ever installed on a project of this size – ever,” said Weyant.

And like any building project, this one required various custom and sometimes on-the-spot solutions to keep it moving forward. For example, DPR devised a custom frame to hang the 22-footlong canvas mural that had formally adorned the Spotify House.

The contractor faced an even more pressing logistical challenge tracking the new doors and windows that were being delivered by trucks which got stuck in a snowstorm. Even though the material arrived late, finishing the job late was not an option. Instead, laborers worked from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. over the weekend to complete the job in time for the return of students Monday. 

DPR Drywall and Self Perform Paint crews put the finishing touches on the studios. Photo courtesy Katie Hughes.

In the end, the project was a major undertaking – but well worth the effort, according to Weyant. “The best part was being able to use our core skills, doing what we do every day, to help youth in our local community. That was pretty awesome,” she said.

From Spotify’s standpoint, “We couldn’t have done this project without DPR Construction,” said Kerry Steib, Director of Social Impact. “It wasn’t just their expertise in the pieces of the project they were leading, it was their willingness to find creative solutions, to take on problems as they arose and to push toward creating the best project possible for these students.”

She added, “There were a few moments along the way where we were met with interesting, unique and last-minute challenges. And every time, DPR approached them with positivity and collaboration. I feel fortunate to have worked with every member of that team.”

While there was no “big reveal” at project completion, Steib described the impact the new space is having bringing diverse groups of youths together through music and helping Spotify fulfill its goal to “unlock the power of music for everyone.”

 “My favorite moment was about 4 p.m. afterschool Wednesday, the third day the studio had been opened,” Steib said. “I was leaving the space and there were two kids in the classroom space using the computers and Ableton software, one kid playing the guitar in a studio, and two more collaborating on a song in another. They were voluntarily staying late to hang out and work on something they were into. That was magic.”

March 28, 2016

DPR MicroVention Project Crew, Playworks Team up to Help Local School

The construction team at DPR’s MicroVention project site in Aliso Viejo, Calif. partnered with youth in Playworks’ junior leadership program to transform a 12 x 12 foot barren dirt lot on the school grounds into a colorful space for gardening and creativity. Playworks, a nonprofit organization committed to promoting safe, fun and healthy play at schools across the nation, is based in mostly underfunded schools, so the landscape enhancements were needed by both Playworks participants and the community.

Photo courtesy Maddie Schotl

On the afternoon of March 10, 10 DPR team members came to the school and, together with 15 Playworks participants, transformed the space. The children helped level and prepare the dirt site. DPR crews and the students then moved into place six planter boxes, which had been prefabbed by MicroVention team members earlier that day.

Photo courtesy Maddie Schotl

Working with the DPR crews, the students brainstormed how to create a functional space. They put their math skills to work computing how much dirt would be needed to fill the boxes and got dirty placing and filling the boxes with rock and topsoil readying them for plants that are to follow.

Photo courtesy Maddie Schotl

The construction team at the MicroVention site are already planning their next project with the Playworks youth. 

March 3, 2016

DPR and Future For Kids Demonstrate the Power of Community Partnership

For the past six years and counting, DPR and its Phoenix region employees have invested substantial resources and volunteer hours in support of Future for Kids (FFK), a community service organization serving local at-risk youth. In addition to over $200,000 in financial support in the past three years alone, DPR employees logged nearly 1,900 volunteer hours from 2013-2015 helping with FFK fundraising events, sports camps, its School of Construction and much more.

But perhaps nowhere has the depth of DPR’s commitment been more apparent, or the importance of community partnerships better illustrated, than in a recent fast-tracked, major new office finish-out completed for FFK through volunteer time and material donations.

The project became necessary when FFK found out they needed to quickly relocate their Scottsdale headquarters after a new developer bought the space. Future for Kids board member Bruce Shapiro of Arizona Partners generously offered up space in one of his retail buildings in Tempe – but the unfinished property needed a complete build-out to be useable.

DPR project manager Tim Hyde, current president of FFK’s board of directors, recognized that the project presented an opportunity to leverage their core building skills and capabilities on behalf of an important community partner. This was our opportunity to have a tremendous impact their mission,” Hyde commented.

Future for Kids' office renovation was completed in less than a month with volunteer labor and material donations. Photo courtesy Tim Hyde.

According to FFK’s Executive Director Madonna Bistany, the volunteer finishout project exemplifies the strong partnership that FFK and DPR have cultivated over the years – one that has been integral to their success.

“DPR Construction has stood alongside Future for Kids for over six years, supporting and strengthening our work with youth in the community,” she commented. “Having the support of a strong company like DPR allows FFK to focus on the important work of our mission. That is truly the power of well-established, philanthropic corporate relationships.”

Collectively, Phoenix employees logged some 236 hours on the project. That included a major effort by DPR self-perform crews, who donated nearly 100 volunteer hours on the job. Hyde estimated that DPR and other community partners put in place an estimated $50,000 worth of work – all at an out-of-pocket cost to FFK of around $8,000.

Volunteers from DPR's self-perform group framed up walls for the new office. Photo courtesy Tim Hyde.

The support was literally a godsend to FFK, according to Bistany.

“Our organization runs nine outreach programs each week serving 450 youths and three large scale camps around the Phoenix area,” Bistany said. “Having to move was a scary and complicated process. After sharing the location opportunity along with its challenges with our Board Chair, Tim Hyde, he immediately had the vision and know-how to make something from nothing.” 

Reviewing plans in the empy shell space; volunteers in action; completed restroom. Photo courtesy Tim Hyde.

February 22, 2016

Raleigh-Durham Region Leverages Building Skills with Recent Habitat Workday

Working alongside a family who put in sweat equity as down-payment on their future new home, a group of 17 DPR volunteers was able to leverage their building skills on a recent Habitat for Humanity project in the Raleigh-Durham region.

The Jan. 29 project marked the final workday on a new Habitat home that is slated to be turned over to the homeowner in mid-February. DPR volunteers who turned out included four craft workers as well as an array of office, administrative and field personnel. They spent a full workday landscaping the backyard, cutting trees, mulching and planting shrubs in the front and building interior shelves and a bench.

Photo courtesy De'Lisa Stringer

Brian Tostenson helped organize the event for DPR along with community initiatives champion De’Lisa Stringer. Having the opportunity to meet the family that would be moving into the new home and sharing a lunch of homemade porridge provided by the family of new immigrants was a highlight of the day, according to Tostenson.

“It was awesome,” he said. “They brought out their 18-month old baby and shared this delicious lunch with us. It was cool to see the whole family there together and to get a sense of why we were actually there working.”

Photo courtesy De'Lisa Stringer

The opportunity to put DPR’s construction skills to use is also rewarding, according to Stringer. She pointed out that the Raleigh-Durham region is moving toward formalizing their partnerships with the local arms of Habitat for Durham County and Rebuilding Together of the Triangle.

“We are going to be contributing a certain amount of hours and donation funds every year from 2017 on,” she commented. “These organizations are huge supporters of low income development, and this really fits in with our focus on skills-based volunteering.”

DPR plans at least another five events this year, some large and some small, Stringer added. “The goal is to give everyone in our office an opportunity to participate in some way.”

January 18, 2016

MLK Service Day with American YouthWorks and Violet Crown Trail

DPR's Austin office employees used the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday to get their hands dirty with two of their long-time community partners.

DPR's Matt Hoglund presents a check for $40,000 to American YouthWorks following a landscape volunteer day.

DPR volunteers joined youth from the American YouthWorks program on Monday to clean the historic Burdett Prairie Cemetery and adjacent greenbelt trail. DPR has worked with American YouthWorks and their YouthBuild program in Austin for more than three years. In addition to hands-on work and training with the students, DPR donates the proceeds from their annual golf tournament to the organization. The $40,000 check presented Monday brings total donations for the last three years to $90,000.

Teamwork in action: volunteers with chainsaws cut trunks and branches, other workers dragged them to the chipper, where additional volunteers loaded them in to be mulched.

A second DPR volunteer crew equipped with chainsaws and a chipper cleared cedar and underbrush for a new segment of the Violet Crown Trail. DPR has a three year commitment to the Hill Country Conservancy to provide manpower, equipment and financial support for the trail. After 15 years of land acquisition, planning and permitting, the first six mile section of the ultimately 30-mile trail opened in 2015.