PE Volunteer Day with Construction for Change

By: Evanne Webster, Project Engineer

When you volunteer, your skills and energy can be a valuable boost for the organization you work with. A little effort can go a long way for a deserving community! The benefit works both ways – volunteering can also help you grow as an individual and leader.

On October 26, 22 like-minded individuals from Lease Crutcher Lewis and Hermanson Company volunteered with Construction for Change (CfC) and World Relief Seattle. We built six raised ADA-accessible planter beds and two CMU composting areas for refugees from all over the world who have been relocated to Kent, Washington.

The Lewis project engineer group was looking for a worthy cause where we could target our volunteer efforts. CfC was an ideal partner because of their extraordinary local and international work to empower developing communities. They provide construction management in projects that promote education, healthcare, and economic empowerment. Lewis has close ties to CfC because two project engineers have been involved as volunteers. Colton Cox served as a Change Fellow for a year in Uganda, and Ellen Zouras is currently rebuilding clinics in Togo.

CfC partnered with World Relief, a non-profit providing support to refugees. Together they recognized a need for a community garden to grow culturally appropriate foods that promote healthier lifestyles, improve food access, foster economic independence and develop community. Many refugees have agricultural backgrounds and had no space here to grow their own food. As of August, 1,787 refugees had been resettled in Washington this year, two thirds in King County.

“It was incredible to have such a dedicated and passionate group of individuals who were eager to get their hands dirty and give back to their community” said CfC Director of Operations Tim Hickory.

Our goal for the day was to build two CMU composting areas. We jackhammered the parking lot and dug down to create a flat surface. From there we laid CMU blocks with mortar to create three sections. As work progressed up the sides, we maintained a level surface and added rebar to make sure the beds were durable and long lasting. I was blown away with how hands-on everyone was, providing valuable input and ideas to be as efficient as possible. PCS and the Lewis Yard supported our team by donating materials and tools.

Tim sent additional thanks: “We are incredibly grateful for the volunteer and material contributions provided by Lewis and Hermanson to build out the ADA garden beds and composting areas. They had the technical volunteer expertise that we needed for this specific scope and the end result was stunning.”

Lewis project engineers Evanne Webster, Tia Fogle, Morgan Engelhardt, Ryan Scarff, and Monica Jones take measurements before laying CMU blocks for one of the composting areas.
Morgan Engelhardt, Moxie Oseland, and Thao Phung mix mortar by hand.
Anthony Brusati and Josh Beloit lay CMP blocks and mortar for a composting area.
Colton Cox breaks up asphalt to create the composting areas. He worked as a Change Fellow for CfC.