We strive to be integral and indispensable to our communities. This company-wide vision is implemented on the local level through volunteer action spearheaded by individual jobsites, regional offices and grants from the DPR Foundation.

October 16, 2018

Service September: Being Integral and Indispensable to Communities

Eighteen community centers and six residences serving under-resourced families benefited from DPR’s commitment to communities during the organization’s fourth annual “Service September.” Every September, DPR challenges all offices to participate in a least one community initiative project focused on facility construction and renovation for organizations that serve under-resourced families in the communities where we work. We call these types of projects Pillar 1 of DPR’s Community Initiative vision.

Volunteers stretch before starting work at Second Story.

While DPR employees actively volunteer year-round, we like to join forces nationwide to see how much we can accomplish in a single month. This year’s projects helped 24 organizations—with 3,500 work hours, the work represents about 25 percent of the volunteer construction work we will do in 2018. Following are three of the many projects completed this September:

Second Story Community Center Renovation

In Reston, Virginia, more than 40 DPR volunteers renovated Second Story Community Center, one of the DPR Foundation’s grant recipients and community partners since 2017. This vital community service organization provides emergency shelter and long-term housing for teen mothers; after school programs for neighborhood kids; free healthcare and other needed services for community residents. Over 860 adults were served by the center this year, as well as 40 kids who use the center each day after school.

Seeing a facility in dire need of renovation, DPR enlisted the help of three subcontractors who contributed new flooring, lighting, and a new awning. The DPR team contributed at least $10,000 in materials along with numerous volunteer hours from DPR SPW and administrative employees, who joined together September 15-17 to undertake the hands-on renovation work. Volunteers completed an array of tasks, including cleaning, painting, drywall work, hardware installation, replacing a toilet and more. They installed new art and furniture to make the community center a more welcoming and safer place to gather, as well.

Second Story provides after school programs for neighborhood kids.
Second Story provides after school programs for neighborhood kids.

“People are very motivated to get to do hands-on building for this important community organization,” said DPR’s Stacy Groomes, a coordinator of the Service September project. “Second Story has a lot of goals that DPR wants to help them achieve. It is personally rewarding to get them to a place where they are operationally functioning really well.” The enthusiasm of so many employees eager to volunteer is what truly made this project a success.

Pendleton Place Facility Repairs

In Greenville, South Carolina, more than a dozen DPR employees volunteered to help with a renovation project for new community partner, Pendleton Place. The organization serves at risk youth and families in the community. Renovation work included repairs to the Smith House on the organization’s campus, which houses and provides services for teenage girls and women in their early 20s who are aging out of foster care.

Volunteers performed various types of work to make Pendleton Place more livable, including replacing an old basketball hoop.

DPR’s Brandon Scott, who serves on the board of Pendleton Place, organized the community initiative project, which utilized DPR’s core building skills to make much-needed improvements to the residence that houses up to 10 young women. Working over two shifts on September 21, volunteers completed a laundry list of repairs, including: gutter repairs, cabinet work, brick work repair, landscaping, and other work designed to make the residential facility more livable. In the future, DPR plans to enlist trade partners to assist with a bathroom remodel.

“Being able to see people who are struggling because of their life circumstances and help contribute to a better lifestyle fuels that personal satisfaction for helping,” Scott commented. “And for DPR, we’re relatively new to this market, so being integral and indispensable to our neighbors helps show we’re engaged in something that is making a difference beyond the construction industry in this community.”

Volunteers removed fencing from the front of Pendelton Place and rebuilt it to give better access to the facility.

Dover Boys & Girls Club Repairs

In a rural, agricultural region east of Tampa, Florida, DPR took on a Service September project at the Dover Boys & Girls Club the weekend of September 21-22. DPR’s awareness of the Dover Club and its many facility and funding needs came as a direct result of Hurricane Irma last year, when DPR donated several hundred cases of water to the facility. Less visible than some of the other Boys & Girls Clubs in the city of Tampa that DPR has already partnered with in the past, the Dover Boys & Girls Club primarily serves Hispanic, low income migrant families. A vital resource for those families, the Dover Club, in many cases, provides the only hot meal some of those kids receive each day.

When DPR’s Brandon Facini met with the director, he saw that the facility needed significant repairs. After taking an inventory of the most pressing and future needs, about 20 volunteers came together and contributed well over 100 hours painting the club’s computer room and large portions of the 20 picnic tables (the rest will be painted later) and performing a host of landscaping improvements to spruce up the facility, among other things.

A strong joining of forces between craft and administrative employees, who normally don’t work together, made a difference on this project. “It was a great showing by our employees, and a great way to come together and interact internally while also giving back,” Brandon said. “We are happy to be making an impact in the lives of the members of the Boys & Girls Clubs around the Tampa area.”

DPR employees, who often don't work together, were able to come together internally, while also giving back to the community at Dover Boys & Girls Club.

August 1, 2018

Celebrating Women Who Build: All-Female Team Creates Positive Change in Community

This spring, about 40 women from DPR and across the industry came together to make much-needed improvements at Project Bayview, a home in San Francisco for women transitioning out of difficult situations, including homelessness, addiction and human trafficking.

As part of Rebuilding Together San Francisco’s second annual SHEBUILDS community project, the team of all-female builders, engineers, craftspeople and community volunteers worked to increase health and safety at Project Bayview, empowering women to become change-makers in their communities.

This spring, an all-female build team came together to make much-needed improvements at Project Bayview, a home in San Francisco for women transitioning out of difficult situations. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Over the course of two build days, the SHEBUILDS team completed a series of improvements to the women’s home, including:

  • Turning an empty, unmaintained backyard area into an outdoor living space, including installing a new raised deck area and landscaping to create a safe, peaceful place for women and their children;
  • Building a platform for the washer and dryer to prevent flooding;
  • Installing a new pot-filler faucet and garbage disposal in the kitchen;
  • Patching holes, drywalling, painting, caulking and organizing throughout the home.

“The great thing was not only did we have skilled carpenters on this project, but also women who just wanted to learn more and wanted to give back,” said DPR’s Renee Powers. “We had an incredibly cohesive team of all-women builders working together to create positive change for other women.”

The team turned an empty, unmaintained backyard area into an outdoor living space, including installing a new raised deck area and landscaping to create a safe, peaceful place for women and their children. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

According to Heather Kusunoki, house manager at Project Bayview, some of the women living at the home joined the team to work on repairs, and were inspired working alongside and learning from the all-women team’s attention to detail and quality. One of these women now aspires to enter the trades after she finishes her program at Project Bayview, breaking a cycle of difficult situations and creating a new one: one of women empowering women to create positive change in their lives and communities.

Check out radio host Peter Finch’s podcast about the SHEBUILDS project, featuring DPR’s Vic Julian and Lea Rewinski here!

The team of all-female builders, engineers, craftspeople and community volunteers worked to increase health and safety at Project Bayview, empowering women to become change-makers in their communities. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

June 26, 2018

Making a Difference with SPW: DPR Helps LEMO Foundation Continue Serving Underprivileged Youth

Redwood City, California-based LEMO Foundation recently found itself in dire need of the skills that DPR’s self-perform work crews bring to the table. A charitable organization dedicated to providing a home base where underprivileged youth can feel safe, build positive relationships and develop their dreams in an environment where they can excel in academics, athletics and life skills, LEMO was in danger of losing the lease to a portion of its Redwood City facility. Because the previous owner built volleyball courts underneath power lines without PG&E consent, the organization needed the courts to be demolished and removed to maintain its lease and continue holding tournaments at its facility.

Demolition photo
DPR self-perform work teams set a scope of work, found additional help and completed demolition before LEMO Foundation's critical deadline. Photo courtesy of Alex Saldana

DPR’s Alex Saldana was already familiar with the organization and the outstanding work it does in the community helping underprivileged student-athletes succeed in school, athletics and life in hopes of receiving college scholarships.

“I knew it was an opportunity for our SPW demo crew to participate in something that was a unique fit for our skills,” Saldana said. “A demo project is not something that comes up often for volunteer work, and it seemed like the perfect opportunity for DPR to help.”

Over the next two months, DPR’s team worked with LEMO to set a scope of work, find additional help and complete demolition before its critical deadline. Six DPR crews helped complete the demolition project in one weekend. All totaled, DPR dedicated 116 administrative hours and 100 craft hours to complete the project.

Group photo
DPR dedicated 116 administrative hours and 100 craft hours to complete the project. Photo courtesy of Alex Saldana

LEMO Foundation has since been in touch with Saldana, letting him know that the organization was able to renew its lease on the parking lot. It now has additional capacity to accommodate a surge of growth to its volleyball program, which is ranked among the leading programs in the Bay Area. LEMO also has plans to start after-school classes to expose students to potential career paths, such as education, entrepreneurship and sound engineering.

Formed as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in 2008, LEMO Foundation has accomplished unique results, with 75 percent of its student-athletes earning full scholarships and 100 percent of student-athletes receiving admission to college.

LEMO Foundation site
Because of DPR's help, LEMO Foundation was able to renew its lease and accommodate its growing volleyball program. Photo courtesy of Alex Saldana

June 14, 2018

The Role of a Compassionate Team Culture while Building Spaces for Healing

On two simultaneous large-scale hospital expansion projects in the hearts of Phoenix and Tucson communities, the teams at Banner—University Medical Center (UMC) Phoenix and Banner—UMC Tucson maintain an environment that encourages connection, empathy and an investment in the well-being of others.

During a long project, it can be easy to lose sight of the importance of seemingly small tasks day-in and day-out. With shared team values of integrity, community and purpose, these two hospital expansions increase access to community-based, patient-centric healthcare within a culture of compassion. Every room, every wall, and every brush of paint could make the biggest difference on a patient’s day.

Operating room at BUMCP
Project teams at Banner—UMC Phoenix (pictured above) and Banner–UMC Tucson share core values of integrity, community and purpose, which results in a culture of compassion. Photo courtesy of Gregg Mastorakos.

“In our Monday morning safety meetings and daily huddles, we actively discuss the importance of what we are doing and emphasize that we are guests on campus,” said DPR’s Brian Thomason. “We established a culture that publicly praises kindness and doing the right thing.”

On healthcare projects, a compassionate environment inspires, motivates and connects the team to the spaces they are building. As discussed in "Manage Your Emotional Culture" in the Harvard Business Review, smaller acts of kindness and support create a caring culture, which improves teamwork and performance while decreasing burnout.

Exterior of BUMCT
Teams at Banner–UMC Phoenix and Banner–UMC Tucson (pictured above) are intentional about sharing moments of compassion. Photo courtesy of Taylor Granat

This specific environment is crucial to patient-centered design and construction. Health Environments Research & Design Journal reports that “by becoming more conscious of empathy, those who create healthcare environments can better connect holistically to the user to take an experiential approach to design.”

Here are the keys to creating a culture of compassion:

Connect the Team to the Purpose
How people feel about the project they are completing directly affects their performance. During a four-year hospital project, it’s important to keep the bigger picture in mind, and integrated teams at Banner—UMC Phoenix and Banner—UMC Tucson discovered unique opportunities to connect and empathize with patients in adjacent buildings.

At Banner—UMC Tucson, children recovering at the adjacent Banner Children’s at Diamond Children’s Medical Center have a direct view of the jobsite under construction. The Sundt | DPR team moved cardboard cut-outs of Pokémon™ characters including Pikachu, Squirtle and Charmander to a new spot on the steel frame structure every day. This energized and connected the team to the project, which includes the construction of a bridge to connect the new nine-story hospital through Banner Children’s at Diamond Children’s Medical Center. Floors five through nine will provide 204 in-patient private bed units, and floors one through four will include bridge connections to the existing hospital.

Patients at the Phoenix project also had a unique view of progress of the new 13-story patient tower expansion, which will house 256 patient beds. The team noticed a sign from a patient window on the eighth floor of the existing patient tower, requesting the “YMCA” dance for her birthday. Working collaboratively on their moves, the team happily delivered the dance.

“With our team’s culture, there was a real sense of duty. You could see it through the extra hours, the extra work, and the drive to live up to our commitments,” said Thomason.

The Community is Considered Part of the Team
Normally, construction aims to stay out of sight, minimizing any disruption to the surrounding community. However, the community welcomed the positivity, investment and teaching opportunities provided by the teams.

At Banner—UMC Phoenix, the team encouraged kids from nearby Emerson Elementary to paint the plywood safety wall surrounding the jobsite. The resulting mural provided a colorful addition to the project, and it was also an opportunity to teach students about safety and construction. After the wall was no longer needed onsite, DPR delivered and installed the mural at Emerson Elementary for the students to remember their contribution to Banner—UMC Phoenix.

Emerson Elementary
At Banner—UMC Phoenix, the team encouraged kids from nearby Emerson Elementary to paint the plywood safety wall surrounding the jobsite. Photo courtesy of Brian Thomason

“The team, both Banner employees and DPR, have all stated how they are so proud to be a part of such a caring group of people inside and outside of the office,” said Thomason.

By engaging and educating the community, hospital end users feel like a part of the team and share that culture of compassion.

Thank you note
The team received thank you notes from students at Emerson Elementary School. Photo courtesy of Brian Thomason

The Team Looks for Opportunities to Create Joy
When the team establishes a culture of compassion, the opportunities to engage and give back seem to be everywhere.

The iron workers at Banner—UMC Phoenix spontaneously communicated their best wishes by painting “GET WELL FROM THE IRON WORKERS” in direct view of patient rooms in the current tower.

“This was completely unscripted and was a huge hit. We received a bunch of phone calls from the hospital staff saying how awesome it was for the construction workers to take a moment and place this message to the patients,” said Thomason.

The community, staff, patients and project teams may not remember every single day they spent building this project, but they will look back and remember how they felt.

June 1, 2018

Empowering Girls at DPR’s GENaustin Workshop

When it comes to introducing teen girls to the many career opportunities available in the construction industry, who better to do so than an all-female team of DPR professionals?

That’s just what took place this spring at a DPR-hosted workshop titled “You Got This!” for the Girls Empowerment Network (GEN) Austin.

The gathering was part of GEN’s Pathfinder workshop series. It marked DPR’s first one-on-one event with an organization whose mission is “to ignite the power in girls by teaching them the skills to thrive and believe in their ability to become unstoppable.” Formed in 1996, GEN has arms in Houston and Austin focused on offering rising ninth to 12th grade girls a professional development program and a head start on their road to independence, college and career.

GENaustin's mission is to “to ignite the power in girls by teaching them the skills to thrive and believe in their ability to become unstoppable.” Photo courtesy of Diane Shelton

The half-day workshop brought together eight GEN teens with five DPR professionals at DPR’s Austin office. DPR community initiative liaison Angie Weyant said that the small group atmosphere offered ample opportunity for participants to become better acquainted as they took part in an array of interactive exercises and activities.

To kick it all off, the DPR women shared the diverse paths each had taken into construction careers ranging from project executive to project engineer, estimating, marketing and administrative roles. The girls also had a chance to watch DPR’s “Celebrating Women Who Build” video, which even featured Andrea Weisheimer, one of the workshop volunteers.

Eight GEN teens and five DPR professionals came together for a half-day workshop at DPR's Austin office. Photo courtesy of Diane Shelton

The group then squared off on two opposing teams to play a DPR-developed game, “Operation Renovation,” a collaborative construction management game that shows players how the different roles on a construction site interact with each other.

The April workshop also included a chance for DPR volunteers and the girls to pair up for one-on-one “power chats” that honed their interview skills through rapid-fire Q&A sessions. A final exercise focused on bravery and resilience, which were key themes of the workshop.

“Bravery and resilience were great topics to reflect on, even as an adult,” Weyant said. “The girls seemed to love the workshop, and we’re looking forward to growing our relationship with them, to leverage our abilities and experiences to help further their mission and hopefully, encourage some of these bright young women to consider a construction career themselves.”

The DPR team looks forward to growing its relationship with GEN and hopefully, encourage some of these bright young women to consider a construction career themselves. Photo courtesy of Claudia Arellano

March 1, 2018

DPR Volunteers Transform a Youth Development Center through Preconstruction and Self-Perform Work

Roughly 3,500 sq. ft. on the seventh floor of a historic building will become Sharefest's flagship youth center. Photo courtesy of Sharefest Community Development

A project that will benefit scores of underserved youth in Southern California is getting some much-needed help from DPR volunteers, who are leveraging their skills as builders and planners to help transform a former jail in San Pedro, California into Sharefest’s new Youth Development Center. Sharefest, a non-profit organization that aims to build strong communities by fostering volunteerism and preparing youth to lead positive change, will use the center as a year-round safe space for Los Angeles youth.

Over the past two years, DPR teams have stepped up to lend their preconstruction expertise and time to help get the project off the drawing board and into construction. After participating in past rebuilding projects and developing a strong connection with the organization, DPR saw a prime opportunity to make a difference when Sharefest announced its plans to convert roughly 3,500 sq. ft. on the seventh floor of a century-old, historic building in San Pedro into its flagship youth center. The organization has received a long-term, low-cost lease with the city of San Pedro for the space. 

DPR is self-performing concrete work on the project to help Sharefest turn the vision for its new youth development center into reality. Photo courtesy of Sharefest Community Development

Sharefest’s new Youth Development Center is envisioned as a safe place for under-resourced youth to positively engage with one another and in their communities. The organization has served over 3,100 at-risk youths through its Youth Development Academy alone.

“DPR’s volunteer efforts are saving Sharefest hundreds of thousands of dollars on construction costs by providing skilled labor we can trust. We can now use that money saved to invest in the programs we are creating to help youth break the cycles of poverty, find their purpose and become the people we know they can be,” said Chad Mayer, executive director of Sharefest.

After participating in past rebuilding projects and developing a strong connection with the organization, DPR saw a prime opportunity to make a difference at the Youth Development Center. Photo courtesy of Sharefest Community Development

Recognizing there was an unfilled need for subcontractors on the project, the DPR team set to work enlisting the help of five major trades, including plumbing, mechanical, electrical and fire protection subcontractors. To assist with outreach efforts, DPR employed 360-degree photo technology to capture the existing space, allowing subcontractors to conduct virtual job walks before committing their resources.

While the team has contributed significant hours during the preconstruction phase, DPR will continue to be involved, and will be self-performing concrete work on the project to help Sharefest turn the vision for its new youth development center into reality. Construction work began earlier this month, and the project is slated to be completed later this year.

November 13, 2017

High Schoolers Shine in New DPR Internship Program

Recent high school graduate Jessica Reynoso and DPR project manager Irma Jauregui might be at decidedly different stages in their professional lives–but they still have plenty in common. Both grew up in East Los Angeles. Both graduated from the same high school, albeit 20 years apart. Most importantly, they both share a strong determination to make a better life for themselves.  

This summer, their journeys intersected on a 73-acre corporate campus project in Irvine, California, where Jauregui is DPR’s project manager in charge of cost control and Reynoso recently completed an eight-week internship through the company’s new Build Up high school internship program.

A DPR Community Initiatives program, this year’s pilot internships offered four high schoolers the opportunity to work and learn on DPR jobsites. The goal: provide under-resourced yet highly qualified youth (rising juniors, seniors and May grads) interested in STEM careers with real-life professional experience, while exposing them to career paths in the construction industry–all under the guidance of a DPR mentor or mentor team.

High schooler Jessica Reynoso completed an eight-week internship on a 73-acre corporate campus in Irvine, Calif. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

As Reynoso’s primary mentor, Jauregui was tasked with ensuring the teen worked on meaningful tasks, from helping with daily safety logs to creating a custom spreadsheet to assist with specific cost control issues that the team still uses today. Job shadowing allowed Reynoso to explore the different roles and technical skillsets that make up a team, and be exposed to what career paths were available to her.

Jauregui was happy to take on the role of mentor to Reynoso, as she herself never had anyone to guide her when she was younger. The reward? Seeing Jessica grow personally and professionally from the start of summer to the end, and knowing that she had a part in it.

“It was just a really good feeling to help someone have this opportunity to learn, and help them financially as they’re heading off to college,” Jauregui said. “Being able to impact someone at this level can be life-changing, career-changing.”

Through the Build Up high school internship program, students interested in STEM careers gain real-life professional experience on a DPR jobsite. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Reynoso gained a newfound appreciation for the construction process and the amount of effort that is put into aspects such as precise scheduling and cost control to efficiently deliver reliable outcomes for our customers.

“The personal growth I experienced was learning how to schedule my time, effectively communicate with colleagues, listen to feedback and correct my errors the next time a similar situation occurs,” she said.

Austin Intern Anais Arechiga
A senior at Austin’s Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders, Anais Arechiga learned about the internship opportunity through the local ACE Mentor program, where board member and DPR project manager Diego Negrete encouraged students to apply.

While there were plenty of solid applicants, Arechiga stood out. She shares a love of art with project executive Andrea Weisheimer, and even competes in art competitions. She spent the summer immersed on DPR’s Third + Shoal jobsite, a 29-story, 345,000-sq.-ft. Class-AA corporate office space in downtown Austin.

Anais Arechiga spent the summer immersed on DPR’s Third + Shoal jobsite, a 29-story, 345,000-sq.-ft. Class-AA corporate office space in downtown Austin. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Under the guidance of Negrete and Weisheimer, Arechiga exceeded her team’s expectations and became a valuable contributor. Initially quiet and hesitant to ask questions, she developed confidence as she helped with RFIs and submittals to the point where she stopped asking what she should work on, and created her own projects.

“Anais is a super bright individual who really absorbed everything at a phenomenal rate,” said Negrete. “Whether she was walking around with a project engineer or superintendent, she never stopped asking ‘what is that?’ or ‘why are you doing that?’ She had a unique passion to learn as much as she could about everything around here.”

Arechiga said that her experience was highly positive from the outset.

“It was amazing to let it sink in that I would be working on a commercial high-rise, then later find I won the lottery with such an amazing team. I expected to have to try really hard establishing myself, but was greeted with open arms and supported by my team the entire way through.” she said. “With their support, I grew my confidence, responsibility, communication and assertiveness.”

Arechiga learned that construction is the balance between complex, technical skills and relationships, communication and teamwork–all the pieces need to operate in tandem, like a finely tuned machine, to prevent injury, improve efficiency and successfully deliver a project. She loved how every day was different, and her experiences this summer inspired her to consider pursuing civil engineering or geoengineering as a college major and career path–and her mentors Negrete and Weisheimer will be there with her every step of the way.

October 10, 2017

DPR’s Service September Outreach Positively Impacts Communities Across the Country

For Service September, DPR challenges each of its local business units to take on at least one construction volunteer project. This year, every office used its construction skills to help local organizations improve facilities, and in turn help them work toward achieving their missions each and every day. In September, DPR renovated and repaired 15 community centers, seven single family residences and shared building and construction knowledge with youth during four workshops.

A few examples of projects completed by DPR around the country include:

Photo courtesy of Megan Valles

Boys & Girls Club Placer County (Sacramento)
In Sacramento, DPR teams “refreshed” the Boys & Girls Club of Placer County facility that serves over 300 local youth. The project involved sprucing up several bungalows the Club uses for its after-school programs at the Rock Creek Elementary School campus. DPR volunteers completed needed maintenance at the school, including prepping and painting exterior walls, doors and handrails.

The Club’s development director, Topher Matson, said the service project and DPR’s ongoing relationship with the Club make a significant impact.

“The Rock Creek School Site isn’t just a building; it’s the backdrop where youth development takes place,” he said. “With DPR’s help, club members see a partner in the community that places value on the club they love.”

Photo courtesy of Rena Crittendon

Bay Area Tackles Four Projects in One Day
In the Bay Area, DPR impacted an estimated 3,400 children, families and seniors in local Bay Area communities through its Service September projects at The Boys & Girls Club (South San Francisco), East Oakland Boxing Association, Casa Maria Recovery Home (San Mateo), and Antioch Baptist Church Senior Apartments (San Jose).

Photo courtesy of Rena Crittendon

DPR volunteers completed repair projects at these four different facilities in a single day. Work involved an array of services including demolition, painting, pouring concrete and footings; building decks and ADA ramps, installing T-Bar ceilings, fencing, landscaping, lighting and handrails; building benches, planter boxes and a shed. 

Photo courtesy of Rena Crittendon

Center for Children & Young Adults (Atlanta)
In Atlanta, DPR reached out to one of its key community partners, the Center for Children & Young Adults (CCYA), to perform a day of service at its Marietta, Georgia facility which houses up to 40 local youth ages 12 to 21.  Volunteers from all peer groups in the region turned out for the service day. In the morning, they performed various needed improvement projects, including repainting three bathrooms in the main building, putting together five fire pit/planter beds for the outdoor space and constructing a storage shed.

“Places like the planter boxes and fire pit areas help us create home-like places for our kids to gather and create memories of their own to carry with them when they leave us.  Thank you so much for having DPR help us,” said Maureen Lok, chair of CCYA’s board of directors.

Photo courtesy of Ken Jones

June 12, 2017

Teens Become Leaders at DPR's Second Annual School of Construction in Richmond

Richmond, VA teenagers had the opportunity to learn about construction planning and safety and then test their leadership skills guiding younger children through a hands-on build project during DPR’s three-day School of Construction for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Richmond in May 2017.

DPR’s Mid-Atlantic office tailored their second annual School of Construction event in a way designed to better engage teen members of the local Boys & Girls Clubs. Around 25 members from the Northside and Southside clubs, including five older teens, participated. They joined together with 16 DPR employees to plan and run an event that shared DPR’s unique technical skillsets with the community while educating local youth.

“The goal was really expanding our partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs and better engaging their teen population,” said Diane Rossini, community outreach coordinator for DPR’s Richmond office. “All of the teens were very excited to take ownership of the build. It was great to see the smiles on their faces when they succeeded in working through a problem.”

Teens were introduced to construction planning and BIM tools used in real-world scenarios including P6 scheduling, 3-D and 4-D modeling. Photo courtesy of Diane Rossini

The School of Construction event kicked off with a planning day with the teen leaders. Teens partnered with DPR volunteers and discussed how they would be leading the hands-on building groups. DPR employees had the chance to share their various career paths and what DPR stands for as a company. The teens were also introduced to construction planning and Building Information Modeling (BIM) tools used in real-world scenarios including P6 scheduling, 3-D and 4-D modeling.

A follow-up pre-build and safety day with the teen leaders offered the teens an opportunity to work side-by-side with DPR volunteers, complete with a PPE safety gear demo and pre-task plan. The teens worked through the building process and gained the confidence they needed to lead the younger club members on build day.

During the actual School of Construction Day at DPR’s Richmond office, the youth were exposed to virtual and augmented reality tools used in construction and offered a chance to interact with a virtual construction site. Teen leaders guided groups of younger students to build five prefabricated planter boxes. Those boxes will be donated to Renew Richmond’s community garden education program at G.H. Reid Elementary School and installed by DPR volunteers in June.

Teen leaders guided groups of younger students to build prefabricated planter boxes, which were donated to Renew Richmond’s community garden education program. Photo courtesy of Diane Rossini

Darricka Carter, director of corporate & foundation relations for Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Richmond, commented, “DPR’s School of Construction provided our club members a chance to learn new skills, be exposed to new career opportunities and instilled in them a sense of accomplishment. The skillsets they gained will help them set goals for their future and develop personally and professionally.”

Feedback from the teens themselves showed DPR succeeded in that goal–one that challenged them well beyond the typical role as student to take on a leadership role as a teacher instead.

“It was challenging to teach kids to want more,” said Tyreicq, one of the teen leaders. “I told them that if you want something you’ve never had in your life, you will have to do something you’ve never done.”

The DPR School of Construction gave Boys & Girls Club members a chance to learn new skills, be exposed to new career opportunities and instilled in them a sense of accomplishment. Photo courtesy of Diane Rossini

Teen leader Amira, a graduating senior who plans to major in mechanical engineering in college, had the chance to partner directly with DPR team members from engineering backgrounds who shared their experience with her. “It was cool to hear the perspectives of other individuals with similar interests and educational backgrounds,” she said.

David LeFebvre, director of development at Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Richmond added, “The School of Construction was a beautiful blend of service-learning, DPR employees’ expertise and team-building. It was such a well-designed program that allowed our kids to learn about what different kinds of jobs are out there, how they can contribute to their community, and how important it is to work as a team. This kind of activity is exactly what BGCMR is looking for to get our kids ready for life.” 

The planter boxes at G.H. Reid Elementary School were installed by DPR volunteers in June and will serve Renew Richmond’s community garden education program for years to come. Photo courtesy of Diane Rossini

For more information and updates about all of DPR's community initiatives visit www.dpr.com/company/community

May 19, 2017

DPR Austin Volunteers Show Big Heart in Tiny House Build

Despite the diminutive size of a tiny house project that DPR recently completed for Community First! Village in Austin, more than 50 DPR volunteers brought big building skills and even bigger heart to the job.

The project is part of a 27-acre development owned by Mobile Loaves & Fishes that will ultimately offer around 275 disabled, chronically homeless people in central Texas a long-term living community.

“It’s been nothing short of phenomenal,” commented Alan Graham, director of Mobile Loaves and Fishes at Community First! Village. “The DPR team is just awesome. From a corporate culture point of view, that whole (DPR) team out there has been stellar and it blows me away that a company as large as DPR has such a big heart.” 

Over 50 volunteers from DPR Austin put their unique, technical skills to work to build a tiny home for a chronically homeless person in Austin. Photo courtesy of Diane Shelton

The large volunteer workforce, including skilled craftspeople, self-perform drywallers, painters, carpenters and others, constructed the tiny house over about two and a half weeks in April. In true DPR style, crews willingly jumped in to help construct the 220-sq.-ft. tiny house with a 300-sq.-ft. rooftop deck, even though all are busy on DPR projects in the thriving Austin market. The volunteer workforce included the many other DPR employees on jobsites who covered their colleagues’ work while they were away building the tiny house.

Graham described the Community First! Village model as a “radical new movement” designed to provide a new start for the formerly homeless.

“It’s really centered around the idea that housing will never solve homelessness, but community will,” he said. 

Volunteers constructed the house over about two and a half weeks in April. Photo courtesy of Diane Shelton

Record-Setting Build
While the end product itself may be tiny, the challenges getting the tiny house completed on DPR’s self-imposed two-and-a-half-week schedule loomed large. That build schedule easily surpassed the speed that any of the other 130 or so tiny houses on site have gone up to date. 

“DPR built this faster than Community First! has ever seen one of their tiny houses come together – ever,” said DPR’s Angie Weyant, one of the project’s organizers. The team also overcame challenges including inclement weather and design adjustments. 

The Community First! Village will provide a new start for the formerly homeless. Photo courtesy of Diane Shelton

Taking Stock of Lessons Learned
Although it has been challenging, in typical DPR fashion, volunteers “are already talking about when we do this the next time, how will we do it better?” Weyant said with a laugh. “What makes us different is the initiative and genuine desire of our teams to use our technical and self-perform work skills to make a positive impact in the communities in which we operate.”

For now, they are making plans for a ribbon-cutting or housewarming ceremony, perhaps with the lucky tenant who moves into the DPR-built tiny house. While the reward for the new tenant is a permanent home to live in while they pay rent and contribute to the community around them, for the DPR team, the payoff is simply knowing they made a difference to someone in need.