Building isn’t only done with only concrete, steel and wood. A community is built through everyone chipping in and lifting up those who need the support. General contractors in Arizona are not only productive in constructing impactful structures, these companies are also leaders in giving back to the communities in which they serve.
Each years, Arizona general contracting companies donate millions of dollars and thousands of volunteer hours to charity. For the charities that they help, these efforts are welcome and needed. However, the giving and the service is also rewarding for the general contractors themselves.
“It’s huge. It’s turned into almost a recruiting tool, that’s how much people like it,” said LGE Design Build president and CEO David E. Sellers, who founded the David R. Sellers Foundation in honor of his late father in 2014. “When we’re bringing in people, they love that our company is philanthropic. I never thought that was going to be something that came along with it.”
LGE is just one of many local general contracting companies to give back to the community through various efforts and foundations. Below is a breakdown of the ways that LGE and four other companies give back to the community.
According to the LGE Design Build’s chief operations officer Carrie Masters, the origin of the David R. Sellers Foundation dates back to 2014. That year, LGE celebrated its 20th anniversary with 20,000 acts of kindness for kids.
“We started the Foundation as an avenue for LGE to connect with and fund other nonprofits,” Masters said. “The 20 x 20,000 year-long campaign launched in January 2015 and provided backpacks, socks, soap, crayons, healthy snacks, diapers and other needed items for babies and kids in the Valley. Each month a different nonprofit dedicated to children benefited from the fundraising efforts.”
The goal of the David R. Sellers Foundation was to create an avenue for LGE Design Build to give back to the community with an interest in local nonprofits that focus on the betterment of the under-privileged and cancer-stricken children. While it remains dedicated to ending the cycle of youth homelessness in local communities, it contributes to any nonprofit that touches its heart.
“We’re doing a big push for the Arizona Children’s Cancer foundation,” Sellers said. “You’re sitting there thinking about all of the terrible things that are going on with COVID, then imagine if your kid was undergoing chemotherapy and you couldn’t bring home any germs and you have a job at Amazon or WalMart or a mall, you wouldn’t be able to have that job because you’re not going to risk your child’s life. So then you can’t pay your mortgage, you can’t get your family groceries, I couldn’t imagine having to go through that, so we’re making a big push for them and matching dollar-for-dollar whatever we get and we have some generous contractors.”
Sellers said that as a general contractor that works with many subcontractors and other businesses, he has a unique advantage for successfully raising funds for charities. However, in order to have truly impactful fundraising efforts, a company has to devote enough time and personnel to it.
“For us, it was a big thing to do. You have to make the decision to do it. Some companies make so much money that they have to do it for tax purposes,” said Sellers, who has Masters leading the David R. Sellers Foundation. “For us, we’re like, that’s going to be a initiative that we’re going to focus on.”
Masters said that the foundation raises roughly $50,000 each year and has already supported more than 50 non-profits. Among those is Hope Kids, Amanda Hope Rainbow Angels, Phoenix Dream Center, Ben’s Bells, Feed My Starving Children, Community Cancer Fund, Skyline Education, St. Vincent De Paul, Phoenix Rescue Mission, Backpack for Kids and St. Mary’s Food Bank.
CORE is dedicated to supporting causes that its employees and families care about. The company is active supporters of the American Heart Association, Best Buddies, Boys to Men Mentoring, and the Speak Up, Stand Up, Save a Life programs. CORE staff members look for every opportunity to get involved with organizations that inform the public and lift up individuals. During the unprecedented months of the COVID-19 pandemic, CORE employees stepped up to donate masks, face shields, hand sanitizer, gloves, and first aid supplies to first responders, schools and disadvantaged communities across Arizona. In April alone, CORE donated personal protective equipment (PPE) to 15 public safety and municipal agencies, which included 5,000 face masks, 3,600 gloves, 1,200 shoe covers and 500 safety glasses.
CORE has deeply invested time and financial support to creating a great public education system for the communities that its employees live and work in, every day. One organization that CORE works closely with each year is School Connect, a nonprofit focused on connecting schools with local community organizations to form sustainable partnerships that will support the unique needs of each school and create a lasting network of resources for disadvantaged students. In 2020, CORE contributed to School Connect’s effort to reduce the digital divide by providing 100 laptops for students across Arizona. As school moved online due to the pandemic, access to internet and the technology required to join class from home created new challenges for families. With new laptops, students were able to continue to learn alongside their classmates, while remaining safe at home. Another event that the CORE team is excited about each year is School Connect’s “Love Our Schools Day”, a hands-on effort to give back to local schools by touching up paint, cleaning desks, and completing other maintenance activities. During construction projects on K-12 campuses, CORE Superintendents and Project Managers develop great relationships with the staff, students and community members. But, after the work is complete, the team moves on to the next project. “Love Our Schools Day” gives the Superintendents and Project Managers the opportunity to come back and work side by side with the community they grew to know so well and improve the campus. As a local contractor with offices across the state, CORE looks for every opportunity to support the continued success of the communities it serves.
Kitchell has a long legacy of supporting the community as part of the giving philosophy established by its founder Sam Kitchell. Through the Kitchell Foundation, the company supports social services, healthcare and education sectors. The company also has an employee-directed fund, which matches targeted donations by its employee-owners 50 cents on the dollar. This allows employees to support their favorite nonprofit and maximize their investment with a matched gift from the Foundation. To encourage a deeper relationship with communities where its employee-owners live and work, a few years ago Kitchell established an annual Founder’s Day. Every year on or around September 11 (National Day of Service and the day Sam Kitchell passed away in 2006), employees and family members in all the company’s markets are dispatched to volunteer with a wide range of charitable groups: sorting food at food banks, creating kits people experiencing homelessness, cleaning animal sanctuaries, improving school grounds, picking up community parks, building toys for United Way partner agencies and donating blood, among others. The net result is a $25 per-hour, per-employee donation to the nonprofits, thousands of hours of free labor, increased awareness of needs in our communities and a healthy shot of Oxytocin. This past year (despite the pandemic) our activities generated 440 volunteers for a total of 1,380 hours and donations totaling more than $34,000.
Stevens-Leinweber Construction Inc. (SLC) is one company that does a great job of spreading the generosity around. A SLC employee, and a parent of a child adopted out of the foster care system, and their spouse dresses up each year as Santa and Mrs. Claus and visit the Garden House and other foster care children. The Garden House sends SLC a gift list for specific children and the team buys the gifts and Santa and Mrs. Claus deliver them.
SLC also organizes a huge annual food drive for the St. Mary’s Food Bank. SLC employees donate food and they ask for/collect food from all of their subcontractors as well, who I’m told “bring carloads of food” to SLC to add to their employee donation. SLC makes a cash donation on top of the food donation as well.
Other contributions and sponsorships they’ve participated in over the past 12 – 24 months include: • CIS Bags & Brew supporting A New Leaf; Cortney’s Place Annual Ball; DEL Foundation – Supporting American Cancer Society and Children’s Cancer Network; Executive Council Charities (EC70); JDRF; Paradise Valley North Little League; PCH50 for Phoenix Children’s Hospital; and the Valley of the Sun Active 20-30 Club.
Sundt Construction enjoys one of the most robust charitable giving programs in the industry with its Sundt Foundation. The Sundt Foundation was created in 1999 to give Sundt employee-owners a way to give back to the communities where they live and work. The Foundation is 50 percent funded by contributions from Sundt employee-owners – current and retired – who become members for as little as $4/month. Since the formation of the Sundt Foundation, employees have logged more than 20,000 volunteer hours and more than $11 million has been given to groups in the communities where Sundt is active. In 2019 alone, there were 283 grants awarded.
The Foundation donated $347,375 in 2019 to Phoenix-area charities, giving out 119 grants. Some of the groups that The Foundation’s efforts helped were Maggie’s Place, St. Joseph the Worker, St. Mary’s Food Bank, Habitat for Humanity, Packages from Home, Feed My Starving Children, St. Mary’s Food Bank, Sunshine Acres and the Arizona Association for Foster & Adoptive Parents
In Tucson, The Foundation donated $119,400 in 2019 in 59 grants.
In June of 2020, The Foundation gave $200,000 in grants to over 20 nonprofits. The special round of emergency relief will support those working at the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as those most affected.
Then in August, Sundt gave out 25 grants to Phoenix-area nonprofits for a total of $75,000. Among those receiving grants were: Chrysalis Shelter for Victims of Domestic Violence; Child Crisis Arizona, A New Leaf and Ryan House.