Community Initiatives Spotlight Series: Thomas Aldrich

DPR Construction’s Community Initiatives (CI) efforts to support organizations with a focus on “building possibilities for the under-resourced,” are driven by a group of DPR employees – DPR’s CI Champions – who volunteer to execute these programs, such as event coordination, fundraising, offering operational guidance, youth programming, and acting as a liaison between DPR and its nonprofit partners.

The CI Spotlight Series focuses on these individuals.

For the past four and a half years, Thomas Aldrich, a DPR senior project manager/Self Perform Boston Lead, has supported DPR’s CI efforts from coast to coast, beginning with 9 Dots, a nonprofit in Southern California, and now serves on the board for The ACE Mentor Program of Greater Boston as its President.

Headshot of Thomas Aldrich
For the past four and a half years, Thomas Aldrich, a DPR senior project manager/Self Perform Boston Lead, has supported DPR’s CI efforts from coast to coast. Courtesy of Thomas Aldrich

Q: Who or what inspired you to take on the role of becoming a CI Champion?

I’ll never forget what happened during my first performance review back when I was working for DPR in Southern California. My direct manager told me that I had pretty much done well all around, but I had not done anything yet involving CI and that was my one big area for improvement. He was the one who really encouraged me to seek out local CI opportunities, have a greater understanding DPR’s philanthropic mission and learn why it’s so important to be integral and indispensable with our community partners.

After that performance review, I took the initiative and asked the Facilities Director of 9 Dots for a tour of their Los Angeles facility to learn more about their services and programming. I really became motivated to do my part and go the extra mile to support the youth by improving the communities in which we work and live.

Group volunteer photo
"Touch a Truck Day" for youth at the Margaret Fuller House in 2019. Courtesy of Thomas Aldrich

Q: Tell us about the first CI event that left a lasting impression on you?

One that made me proud was the first 9 Dots event I participated in, where I brought in four bridge building kits for the kids to construct with support of our DPR volunteers. I had actually built one of the bridges myself prior to see how long it would take, so it was a fun process testing that out before presenting it to 9 Dots. Once the bridge building began, it was awesome to see participants just completely crushing it and engaged with our DPR team. Having the opportunity to champion an educational, enjoyable project like this as my first real CI experience left a lasting impression on me.

Group volunteer photo
Bridge building activity for youth enrolled with 9 Dots in 2016. Courtesy of Thomas Aldrich

Q: Share a time when you felt proud to champion a DPR community partner.

I currently support ACE Mentor of Greater Boston’s board and fundraising committees, and in May of 2019 our committee organized the only fundraiser we’ve done to date prior to the pandemic. Not only did we have a great time, we raised around $180,000 that went directly back to ACE’s scholarship programs.

Most recently, I would say the fundraiser we put together during the pandemic made me the proudest to champion ACE as a DPR representative. I recall when our committee got together to discuss fundraising strategies and I suggested that we pivot due to pandemic, so we landed on hosting our first virtual campaign for ACE. Our original fundraising goal was to try and raise up to $100,000 but ended up raising $190,000.

The outpouring of support from donors and companies was unbelievable, but at the end of the day it came down to giving back to the kids. Considering where we were as a society during this pandemic, seeing how everyone rallied together for this fundraiser to support the youth definitely affected me the most during my time as a CI Champion.

Thomas Aldrich and ACE Scholarship recipient.
Aldrich presenting an ACE Mentor Program of Greater Boston Scholarship to Nicholas Cravotta in 2021. Courtesy of Thomas Aldrich

Q: What does being a CI Champion mean to you?

Our main goal is to have an impact and create opportunities for under-resourced youth, but on top of that, I believe it’s also pushing our own people to think outside the box and find ways to get them involved. As a CI Champion, I feel it’s my duty to be the best coach I can be for those at DPR who are not sure where to begin with their volunteering journey. It feels amazing being able to teach the importance of why we do what we do for our nonprofit partners.

All in all, I am grateful to work for such an amazing company that empowers us to support our communities this way and serve as a powerful resource for organizations that are changing lives.

Group volunteer photo
DPR Service September project supporting Rebuilding Together in 2018. Courtesy of Joanne Castner