Portland's skilled laborers came out this summer to work for free — and ensure marginalized people have access to quality of life.
Bremik construction workers volunteered to pour a concrete ADA ramp for a private residence in Lents, as part of national NeighborWorks Week last week.
During NeighborWorks Week, a national June event started in 1983, local organizations mobilize thousands of volunteers — in 2016, 200 organizations participated nationwide.
Locally, nonprofit REACH brought together businesses and volunteers to provide free home repairs to senior homeowners in the Lents neighborhood, helping them stay in their homes longer.
Bremik Construction volunteered skilled labor, and donated materials and services from Duke Excavation, LaRusso Concrete and Cudahy Lumber to install an extensive accessibility ramp, allowing the senior homeowner to age safely and independently in her home and remain in the Lents neighborhood.
Dennis Brown was there volunteering his skilled labor from LaRusso Concrete for an intimately personal reason.
"My mother-in-law passed recently, and she had some work done (the year before) — donated," Brown told the Business Tribune. "It's nice to see people come to the rescue of people trapped in their homes, it's heartwarming."
The Lents house ramp
Last week, Bremik organized the ramp work on Nancy Ross's home in Lents. On Monday, Duke Excavation employees completed the excavation for the sidewalk, and on Tuesday Bremik's carpenters formed it. Ross was not home during the work while the Business Tribune was there.
On Wednesday, Bremik and LaRusso Concrete poured the ramp leading from Ross's driveway around to her backyard patio. Thursday was spent stripping concrete forms, backfilling around the sidewalk and starting the deck framing, which was completed on Friday.
"We do a lot of concrete work for Bremik," Brown said. "We're doing a really good thing for this lady."
LaRusso Concrete, based in Wilsonville, has been in business more than 53 years in multiple states.
On site, the skilled laborers poured about 50 wheelbarrows of concrete for the ramp.
Jon Peters, foreman with Bremik, is participating for the third year. Bremik is participating in a lot of NeighborWorks week projects, so many that Peters has lost count.
"It's good to get out here on a nice, beautiful, sunny day to help someone out, especially so close to our office," Peters told the Business Tribune. "(This project) will transform the area and give this gal access to the area outside her house, bigger patios outsides and access to be able to leave the house and have a handicap van pick her up."
In total, the project scope includes 10 yards of concrete sidewalk running up the side of the yard and around to the back door. Where the path starts, an expanded patio touches the driveway.
The concrete they used weighs 41,000 pounds total.
"Each guy is carrying 12-13,000 individually," Peters said. "It's quite a feat to handle this much."
REACH is a member of the national NeighborWorks network, an affiliation of more than 240 nonprofit organizations located in every state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. In 2016, the NeighborWorks network helped 360,000 individuals and families with affordable housing and counseling. The NeighborWorks network was founded and is supported by NeighborWorks America, which creates opportunities for people to live in affordable homes, improve their lives and strengthen their communities.
REACH and other NeighborWorks organizations across the country mobilized tens of thousands of residents, business people and government officials in a week of neighborhood change and awareness, including painting and landscaping properties, recognizing successful partnerships and hosting a number of events that educate, train and inform.
Through grant funding from the Portland Housing Bureau, REACH has also provided critical plumbing, electrical, and healthy homes repairs for these senior homeowners.
"REACH is thrilled to work with Bremik Construction and Grainger for Neighborworks Week. Their support will help these homeowners age safely in their homes, further advancing the City's plan to support existing homeowners in the Lents neighborhood that is gentrifying rapidly," says CEO Dan Valliere. "We believe that helping our senior neighbors is what builds strong communities, and we can do more when we partner together."
REACH has a new development coming to the Lents neighborhood, offering more affordable housing opportunities in this community. REACH's 72 and Foster development, slated to break ground summer of 2017, will include 101 units of affordable homes and is designed as an intergenerational, mixed-use building serving the diverse Asian Community.
Bremik is also working in the Lents community on the Prosper Portland's 9101 Foster, scheduled for completion in Fall 2017, a four-story apartment building with 54 market-rate and affordable housing units — the Bremik workers who poured the Lents residential ramp are assigned to the 91st and Foster site, and easily walked over to the home.
CBRE's volunteer Build Day
Assembled by HomeAid Portland and the Home Builders Association of Metro Portland, another group of volunteers provided skilled labor in a Build Day for Community of Hope, an organization that helps single-parent homeless families.
Build Day, part of Community of Hope's nationwide Shelter Program, provides upgrades and repairs to housing facilities and low-income homes to improve living conditions for the homeless and struggling.
"This is our second time participating in a Build day for Community of Hope," said Scott Weigel, Portland CBRE Cares Chairman. "Our employees are very passionate about our city and happy to take any opportunity to give back to the community when we can. Our next Build day is scheduled for June 9th for the Habitat for Humanity Portland/Metro East. That would be the eighth project of this type in the last six years."
About 15 Portland-based CBRE employees participated in the Build Day, which provided a new deck and garden area for the Hope House in late May. Additionally, 22 students from De La Salle North Catholic High School participated.
"The volunteers from CBRE Portland were fantastic to work with," said Brenda Ketah, project manager for HomeAid Portland/Home Builders Foundation. "It was a great partnership and we look forward with working with them again on future volunteer projects."
The project scope included weeding and planting new garden beds, construction of a new deck and awning, and new bark along the path towards the deck and in the garden. Internally, the CBRE team worked with contractors to replace the doors on all of the resident suites, providing a more stable, private environment for families in the shelter as they follow the path towards stability.
All plants, soil and bark were donated by Pacific Landscape Management, who also provided two workers to assist in the build. Lakeside Lumber offered wood for the deck at a significantly reduced cost, and donated the finish to stain the wood, and Chamber Bros. and Pacific Crest Structures donated time and materials for the installation of the doors throughout the building.
"For the past two days, everyone has gathered on the deck for dinner and time together in the evening. It is a huge gift to have the kids playing outside and the moms getting to visit," said Linda Jo Devlaeminck, program manager for Community of Hope. "Thanks again for all you have done. It is beautiful!"