According to Jimmy Greene (L), CEO/president of Associated Builders & Contractors, “We don’t just have a responsibility to build our communities, but the people in them, as well. There is a time when something more than business matters, and it’s when people matter most. This is that time.”
(Jimmy Greene photo)
As the world struggles to make sense of the devastating effects of the coronavirus, countless individuals in the construction industry are doing what they can to ease the burdens associated with COVID-19.
"This has been unprecedented for us since, for builders, working with a beginning and an end is a huge part of our cultural DNA," said Jimmy Greene, CEO/president, Associated Builders & Contractors (ABC) Greater Michigan chapter. "The biggest challenge, of course, is not the cure for COVID -19, since we aren't medical, but keeping every employee safe and healthy and planning without a date to work toward.
"We also are finding a number of opportunities to volunteer our services to first responders and we're donating essential equipment to support them, as well. Almost all of our contractors have donated masks and equipment to the medical centers in our area."
Jimmy Greene, CEO/president of Associated Builders & Contractors, helps to hand out Happy Meals after contractors raised $10,000 to feed kids. (Jimmy Greene photo)
For Greene, providing hope has been key.
"The rewards are that we're able to test preparedness, and I would suggest even improve upon deliverables of service, working remotely and exploring more technologies that provide even more efficiency. We are working with every member company and their employees on making sure that they have every resource necessary to navigate financially, emotionally and professionally throughout this pandemic."
According to Greene, "We don't just have a responsibility to build our communities, but the people in them, as well. There is a time when something more than business matters, and it's when people matter most. This is that time."
Greene's mission included passing out McDonald's meals to youngsters in the community.
"With kids being dismissed from school prematurely, ABC wanted to lend support, since so many of our skilled trades workers have school-age children. The response from the contractor community was immediate and became viral throughout the communities we do business in and with companies we do business with. We raised approximately $10,000, and distributed more than 2,000 Happy Meals.
"The reaction has been amazing. I went to eight districts that oversee 35 schools and three shelters for abused women and children. I'm not sure who got more out of this initiative, me or the kids."
Jay Reed, president, ABC Alabama, pointed out, "As our membership navigates this uncharted territory, we've seen an increased emphasis on employee safety as it relates to virus/spreading protocols. Specifically, we're getting requests regarding signage, testing and protocols. It's about commitment to employees in our trade. Our biggest asset is our people and whatever it takes to ensure their safety is what our members are looking for and implementing.
Said Reed, "During uncertain times, our industry looks to our association as being that nucleus or conduit of information. Fortunately, with the resources that we have access to, we've been able to provide quick Q&A, best practices and guidelines."
In late March, Congress passed the largest economic aid package in United States history — the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which was signed into law by President Trump. According to its website, The Associated General Contractors of America's (AGC) government relations team worked long hours to ensure the best possible outcome for the construction industry in the package. Although not everything was included in the final legislation, there are significant construction industry priorities that were secured, including establishing loan programs that will help many construction businesses pay employees and overhead costs, while continuing operations, if possible, and an advanced-refundable tax credit for employers implementing new federal paid leave mandates in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
Hoar Construction Marketing Manager Jacklyn Pascale and daughter, Mia, have been serving lunch at the Christian Service Center, where Pascale volunteers. (Jacklyn Pascale photo)
In Orlando, Fla., Hoar Construction marketing manager Jacklyn Pascale has been doing her part to help others during the COVID-19 ordeal. She and daughter Mia have been serving lunch at the Christian Service Center, where Pascale volunteers.
"One of our core values at Hoar is stewardship, and we welcome the opportunity to give back to our communities. This pandemic has provided some staff with additional opportunities to further impact the community in a variety of added ways during this time of crisis.
"Due to this pandemic, my five-year-old daughter's development center had to close and she stays at home during the day. It also led to a few volunteer groups unable to make it, and the program director reached out to see if anyone was available to help. I asked if my daughter could join and they allowed it, as they were taking safety precautions to limit people's exposure.
"Instead of handing out a meal directly to a guest, we are boxing them in to-go boxes, and the CDC staff hands them out at the door. This helps keep guests from forming into large crowds."
Pascale added, "It's one of the best ways to spend my lunch hour. The food served at the center is always plentiful and delicious. Much of the food throughout the year is provided through donations, and due to the pandemic and many cancelled local events, they have received several nice large food donations from local organizations."
Hoar senior project manager Brandon Smith also recognizes the need to step up.
"It's very important to give back to your community during difficult times by showing support, donating your time and being there for others who are dealing with so much.
"My daughter and I donated $500 worth of meals, snacks and drinks to several local churches to help the kids that are on the free or reduced lunch program in Seminole County. We also helped deliver these meals to county drop-off locations and to 15 individual families."
Smith noted that the families were very appreciative.
"A lot of kids depend on school breakfast and lunches during the week, and with parents out of work, they would go without. It was very rewarding knowing that I was fortunate enough to help out the kids in my community."
Rob Mooney, director of business development in Hoar's D.C. office, wanted to do his part for those on the front lines.
"We wanted to show our appreciation for our town of Vienna, Va., first responders by providing several meals during the week. This way they didn't need to unnecessarily be exposed to potential health risks. At the same time, we were supporting two of our locally-owned restaurants that are really struggling to stay open during the shut-down.
"We donated six mealtimes to the Vienna fire department. We worked with our friends Denise Lee, owner of Social Burger, to cover three afternoon shifts, and Julie and Patrick Bazin of Bazin's On Church for three evening shifts. Our kids helped pick up the food from the restaurants and deliver to the fire hall. The community is rallying to help out those in need, local businesses and our police and firefighters. It's definitely a bright spot to read these stories when you feel inundated with bad news."
Turner Construction Company, headquartered in New York City, has an action team in place focused on protecting and supporting individuals; sharing information; reducing the potential for the spread of the virus; and donating personal protection equipment to facilities in need.
"Turner contributed supplies of N95 masks to help healthcare providers have what they need to care for patients and delivered them to healthcare providers in our communities across the United States," said Chris McFadden, Turner vice president of communications. "We also are proud to support the mission of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and FEMA in New York and Chicago. Our teams are already mobilized, have begun work and are prepared to deliver approximately 1,300 patient care beds in a matter of weeks."
In addition, Turner is working with clients to transform existing space into patient care space.
"We are accelerating work for some healthcare clients to bring facilities on line to help meet the current and future needs", said McFadden, who added, "Our focus remains to fulfill our commitment to complete our work safely. We have in place robust measures to keep all workers safe on our site. We have implemented social distancing, enhanced hygiene and have in place robust cleaning and disinfecting protocols."
The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has issued an expanded national emergency declaration to provide hours-of-service regulatory relief to commercial vehicle drivers transporting emergency relief in response to the nationwide outbreak.
"Under Secretary Chao's leadership, FMCSA is providing additional regulatory relief to our nation's commercial drivers to get critically important medical supplies, food and household goods to Americans in need. The nation's truck drivers are on the front lines of this effort, and are critical to America's supply chain. We will continue to support them and use our authority to protect the health and safety of the American people," said Jim Mullen, FMCSA acting administrator, in a news release.
While it's uncertain how long it might be before things return to normal, Russell Johnson, director of Government Affairs, ABC Southern California, is keeping a positive attitude.
"We are focused on ensuring our member companies and our apprentices are still able to work, given the Governor's declaration that construction is an essential service. As such, we are sharing information with our members on best practices for social distancing on the construction job site.
"We are all taking the new normal day by day," Johnson added. "While the nation is sheltering in place wondering what will happen next, our members and the apprentices we train are working to build California. We will come back from this crisis stronger, and together we will lift our communities up." CEG