Localizing a Nationwide Spirit of Giving | Community Outreach Projects

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Localizing a Nationwide Spirit of Giving

Zachry Holdings, Inc., an engineering, construction and maintenance company based in San Antonio, is leveraging its nearly 60 jobsites across the country to improve local communities and support charitable initiatives. Each fall, Zachry conducts a company-wide campaign for the United Way. The firm matches employee donations dollar for dollar and donates 75 percent of the total amount raised at each jobsite to the United Way. The remaining 25 percent becomes the operating budget for each individual jobsite to use for local community service projects. 

“It’s so important for our employees to decide which projects and causes to take up,” says Amy Phipps, Zachry’s director of community investment and philanthropy. “They know the community’s needs and where they can make the greatest impact.” 

Community investment has been a part of Zachry’s culture since its founding in the 1920s, and the dollar match program through the United Way campaign has been in place for 25 years. Each jobsite has an established Zachry Care Team that decides where to invest time and resources. With their community service budgets set at the beginning of each year, the Care Teams can decide what they want to get involved in early so volunteer work can continue all year long. 

With more than 60 Care Teams and multiple projects taking place at each site, Zachry implemented a system of communication in which each jobsite’s volunteer chairman participates in a bi-monthly conference call to share what projects and charitable partnerships are in the works. 

“The chairmen really take this opportunity to learn from each other and share creative ideas,” says Janet Jackson, Zachry’s manager of community investment. “While all jobsites report to me on their community service work, these calls help connect everyone across the country.” 

Zachry also uses its internal publication and Facebook page to share volunteer-related success stories. 

Zachry Care Teams aim to touch many diverse areas of need. In addition to choosing projects that assist the elderly, children with disabilities and other members of the community in vulnerable positions, employees often choose projects that require construction work—a skill they are in a unique position to provide. 

For example, Zachry employees in Intercession, Fla., who work at the Cane Island Power Park donated more than 1,000 hours of labor to demolish and rebuild the Central Florida Community Breadbasket, a food bank that serves 1,200 families each day. Volunteers partnered with a dozen of their vendors and local businesses to complete the project in six months. 

In Pasadena, Texas, Zachry employees donated their time and resources to Bridge Over Troubled Waters, which assists the homeless and survivors of domestic violence. In addition to donating school supplies, diapers, sheets, comforters, books, toys and food, 25 Zachry Care Team members spent two Saturdays transporting a large playground to the organization’s new location. 

Volunteers in Buckeye, Ariz., made their mark on the community during their first year at the Mesquite Solar 1 Project for Sempra Generation. The team conducted food and toy drives for local schools and nonprofits, including Buckeye Outreach for Social Services, Buckeye Elementary School, Head Start of Tonopah and Buckeye, the American Legion of Tonopah and the Tonopah Fire Department. Employees also came together to host a barbecue for the Buckeye Senior Citizens Center. 

Although Zachry has been working on Florida Power & Light’s Cape Canaveral Energy Center for less than a year, the construction team quickly found several worthy organizations to support. In addition to participating in local food drives, charity golf tournaments and other fundraisers, the jobsite’s Care Team took on a sizable expansion of the Space Coast Center for Mothers with Children. The organization offers a residential transitional program for homeless mothers and their children, giving them an opportunity to rebuild their lives and ultimately achieve independence. 

While the center was doing its best to accommodate as many residents as possible, about 50 women reamained on the waiting list. In 2011, Zachry spent nearly 200 hours demolishing interior spaces and a screened porch in order to add rooms to each of the organization’s small houses. Zachry joined forces with several vendors to gather construction materials, and this spring the team is adding new plumbing, electrical, drywall, roof supports, flooring and paint. Upon completion, the facility will be ready to provide additional residents with a comfortable place to rebuild their lives. 

“I’ve worked in this industry for more than 40 years, and our team is always ready to come forward to make good things happen, whatever the need,” says Andy Power, Zachry’s project manager for the Cape Canaveral project. “It’s really inspiring for all of us to help our neighbors in this way. Partnering with the Space Coast Center for Mothers with Children has been an opportunity for us to leave an impact on the community, even after the job is finished.”  
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