May 29, 2020

Last fall, DPR Construction teamed up with McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture and Greenville Women Giving to deliver a community initiative project at a residential foster care facility in Greenville, SC. The project involved a major renovation and expansion of two bathrooms at Smith House, a residential facility that is run by Pendleton Place, a DPR- and DPR Foundation-supported community partner. The facility provides a long-term home for 10 girls aged 12-21 who have experienced abuse or neglect. Now, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Smith House residents are benefiting from the project.

Exterior of the Smith House in Greenville, South Carolina.
The Smith House in Greenvlle, SC. Photo courtesy of Pendleton Place

In addition to providing shelter and basic needs like food and clothing, Smith House provides residents with counseling services, structured educational support, life skills training, financial literacy classes, and other services designed to help them successfully transition out of foster care when they turn 18. On average, 25 young women live at Smith House each year; over 200 teens have been sheltered there over the past five years.

Smith House is located within a mile of DPR’s Greenville office. So, when Pendleton Place reached out for help with the project, DPR was eager to help a neighbor and strengthen an already great relationship with the nonprofit, according to Tony Johnson who acted as DPR’s leader for the project.

“Pendleton Place approached us in 2019 after they had been awarded a grant from Greenville Women Giving to renovate the Smith House bathrooms,” Johnson said. “At DPR we take pride in being integral to our community. Smith House is part of the community where we work, so it really felt good to be able to help with this.”

DPR’s existing relationships with McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture, which donated its time pro bono, and with Greenville Women Giving, which provided approximately $83,000 in grant funds, were instrumental to the project’s success. In alignment with its community initiative goal of making facility improvements that enable community organizations to maximize their impact, DPR donated interior furnishings and volunteered about 120 hours performing demolition, drywall and rough carpentry work, among other things.

A Smith House bathroom before the project, with a mirror sitting on the sink counter and tight spacing.
Smith House's bathrooms were in great need of an upgrade. Photo courtesy of Pendleton Place

Construction of the project prompted Smith House residents and counselors to relocate for more than four weeks to a local hotel. Although the project schedule was extended when DPR self-perform craftworkers encountered several unexpected conditions in the house, Johnson pointed out that they still managed to finish the job in time for the residents to move back in just before Thanksgiving of last year.

The project scope included transforming two existing bathrooms and adding a critically needed second shower to Smith House – a major upgrade that has improved the daily lives and morning routines of house residents. In its final report on the project, Pendleton Place noted: “Not only do our Smith House residents benefit daily simply by having a second shower, but both spaces are now more functional and provide additional space and storage. The updated décor and the attention to detail in the design make these bathrooms a beautiful space that will be enjoyed by many in the years to come.”

As the COVID-19 pandemic emerged this spring, DPR’s upgrades took on more importance for Smith House residents. “Smith House has stepped up during the crisis to take in even more teenagers than usual, resulting in 100% occupancy of all foster care beds. Having the additional shower, storage, and updated look and feel is even more important now, making life in quarantine much less stressful,” shared Pendleton Place Executive Director Jed Dews.

One of the two upgraded bathrooms, showing more modern finishes and a welcoming environment.
Significant upgrades have created a more welcoming environment and better options for residents. Photo courtesy of DPR Construction

Dews added that the partnership with DPR has had a major impact on the success of the program over the past three years: “Our partnership with DPR goes beyond a simple service project or an annual financial sponsorship,” he commented. “We consider the DPR team to be a part of the Pendleton Place family, and their contributions to our Board Leadership, campus facilities and long-term community impact are significant. The renovation of our foster care cottage bathrooms is a perfect example of meaningful collaboration in action, and the incredible results will touch the daily lives of hundreds of South Carolina’s most vulnerable children.”