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.