Every year at CONTRACTOR Magazine we find or receive dozens of stories of contractors helping those in need. Maybe it’s because plumbers, in performing a service that takes them into people’s homes, become deeply enmeshed with their communities. Maybe it’s because plumbing is so often a family business, and that sense of family tends to extend to the customers they serve. Maybe it’s because the plumbing trades are for many the first step into the middle class, leaving them with a keen sympathy for people going through tough times.
But whatever the reason, these stories are a reminder that there are plenty of good people out there, trying their best to make the world a better place. (No small thing when everything on the news seems to be doom and destruction.) We thought we’d share just a few of them.
Bob Carpenter - United Craftsman Children’s Shoe Drive
“I’m glad somebody out there cares about me,” said an eight-year-old child, now beaming with joy because he had just received a new pair of shoes for the holidays. For Bob Carpenter, hearing these words tugged at the heartstrings and made the effort so well worth it. You see, Carpenter’s full-time job is Outreach and Education Manager, U.S., for Reliance Worldwide Corporation, yet spends most of his remaining time dedicated to his second full-time job, as CEO of the United Craftsman Children’s Shoe Drive (UCCSD), Inc., a non-profit organization that puts shoes—and now socks—on the feet of children from Children’s Homes and Foster Care.
The idea started back in 2005 when Tracy Newsome collected donations from fellow craftsman to “put shoes on those babies’ feet.” In 2009, Newsome was tragically killed in a car accident returning home from a job running cast iron for Art Plumbing at the Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson International Airport.
At his memorial service, Newsome’s widow asked Carpenter if he could help out and take over the shoe drive. He accepted, and what started with providing for 27 kids in the Atlanta area has turned into helping hundreds of kids every year.
In 2012, what was originally the TAN Shoe Drive becomes the United Craftsmen Children's Shoe Drive, Inc., a 501 (C) 3, a federally recognized, non-profit charity incorporated in the State of Georgia. “The UCCSD is completely volunteer with no one receiving any compensation or travel reimbursements,” emphasizes Carpenter.
In 2014, UCCSD Inc. expanded into Birmingham, Ala. from the help of Wayne Brown, a retired plumber—a man whom Carpenter had never met. Brown helped set up a charity fishing tournament that started with six boats initially and turned into 27 (with the help of an anonymous contractor donor).
In 2017, in addition to the Atlanta and Birmingham, Ala. areas, UCCSD expanded with events in Daytona, Fla. and Tulsa, Okla. This year they will be branching into the Tampa, Fla. area, as well. In January 2017, James Reeves, Jr., a veteran of the U.S. Navy, and southeast regional sales manager for the ACCOR Technology, was named president of the UCCSD, and is now present at all of the fundraising and Shoe Drive events.
With the assistance from Shoe Carnival, which offers a 30% discount on all shoes purchased, most of the donations come from contractors, skilled craftsmen, and skilled trades organizations. Also, “Reliance Worldwide has been very supportive of my efforts,” says Carpenter.
The Shoe Drive’s mission is admirable—to let children who live in children's homes know that the skilled craftsmen care about them by affording them the opportunity to pick out a new shoes, socks and enjoy a lunch with other children living in similar circumstances. For more information on the Shoe Drive, visit them online at www.unitedcraftsmenchildrensshoedriveinc.org.
If that wasn’t enough, Carpenter sits on the PHCC Georgia Board and the Georgia State Inspectors Association, and also recently played a major role with the International Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (IWSH) Foundation’s 2018 Community Plumbing Challenge (CPC) and the Navajo Water Project in Thoreau, New Mexico, an initiative to help ensure that every American has clean, running water forever.
A range of bathroom and kitchen renovations were carried out, including the installation of new basins, taps, toilets, water tanks, water pumps, and hot- and cold-water pipework. These renovations and repairs are required in order for these homes to be connected to water supply systems. Meanwhile, efforts outdoors will address the installation of, and connection to, new wastewater systems. In some instances where some residents of homes that grew up without any running water or indoor plumbing, through the help of some industry manufacturers and 60 plumbers, “We were able to equip 10 houses with water and proper sewage disposal. In one home, we witnessed a woman cry the moment we turned the water on,” says Carpenter.
Finally, Carpenter was asked to visit the Navajo Indian Reservation in Pinon, Ariz. to talk plumbing and teach some real-life skills to some 85 kids. Where others have declined the invitation due to the off-the-beaten-path location of the reservation, Carpenter does what he always does, and agreed to lend his time and expertise. “Everyone deserves a chance,” says Carpenter.
Judging from his work with the Shoe Drive and his efforts in the plumbing industry, you believe him at his word, and you can’t help but root for this guy.
E.M Duggan - Jackets for a Cause
On a cold October day, Domenic Casamassima an employee at E.M. Duggan, Canton, Mass., was on a job site and noticed children outside without coats. It bothered him so much that he decided to take action and create a coat drive campaign—Jackets for a Cause. Casamassima’s daughter got involved and created a logo, and within a day of spreading the word at E.M. Duggan, coats poured in. The program partners with St. Mary’s Center for Women and Children in Dorchester, Mass.
E.M. Duggan’s long-time partners the Charles D. Sheehy, Inc. saw the campaign on social media and the company generously dropped off boxes of coats, 80 in total, in fact. “We immediately got involved because we felt the cause was more genuine than just donating money,” said Bob Fernberg, Treasurer, Charles D. Sheehy, Inc.
E.M. Duggan continues to be active in the surrounding community, especially participating with children’s charities. In late October, the company presented a check in the amount of $15,000 to the Canton Little League to be used for the concession stand project at the Kennedy School playing fields. When completed the concession stand will be named, “E.M. Duggan Dugout.”
“The Duggan family has been around for at least four or five generations so we thought it would be good to give something back to the community that has been good to us all these years,” said Vincent Petroni, E.M. Duggan president, CEO, CFO.
“It’s part of our philosophy—the core values of E.M. Duggan is to give back in the communities that we work in,” said Len Monfredo, E.M. Duggan executive vice president.
EMCOR Group – Charity Golf and Pink Hard Hats
In July EMCOR executives presented a $10,000 check to be donated to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) during ceremonies at the EMCOR In Greater Boston 8th Annual Charity Golf Event. EMCOR Group — a leader in mechanical and electrical construction, industrial and energy infrastructure, and building services — has donated more than $2.1 million to the center over the past ten years. Those donations have contributed in the recovery of more than 355 missing children.
In October, for the 10th consecutive year, EMCOR Group had thousands of its employees across the U.S. commemorate Breast Cancer Awareness Month by wearing Pink Hard Hats in support of the Company's "Protect Yourself. Get Screened Today," campaign.
In three cities, employees and clients wore EMCOR Pink Hard Hats and formed Human Pink Ribbons, to promote awareness for the importance of breast cancer screening. Additionally, over 6,000 of the company’s service trucks carry Pink Hard Hat posters promoting awareness.
John W. Danforth Co. - Boys and Girls Clubs of the Northtowns
John W. Danforth Co., one of the largest Mechanical Contractors in the Northeast region of the United States, was officially inducted into the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Northtowns 2018 Hall of Fame in November.
In the ceremony, Danforth was recognized for being a friend to the Boys & Clubs of the Northtowns for many years and always assisting with any heating, cooling or plumbing needs to keep the clubhouses operating.
The company’s staff and Executive Team attended the ceremony and felt very honored for the recognition.
The Robert M. Cox Humanitarian Awards
And let’s not forget the good work being done by industry associations. InSinkErator has presented the Robert M. Cox Humanitarian Awards to four chapters of the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors—National Auxiliary. Winners received awards during the 137th Plumbing-Heatiing-Cooling Contractors—National Association (PHCC) Convention, CONNECT 2018, October 10-12, in Albuquerque, N.M.
The four groups recognized for their work in 2018 are Illinois PHCC Auxiliary, PHCC Auxiliary of Delaware, PHCC Auxiliary of Lincoln (NE) and PHCC Auxiliary of Nebraska. InSinkErator annually presents the Robert M. Cox Humanitarian Awards in recognition of an auxiliary’s contribution to the trades and influence in the community.
In the small-group category, Illinois PHCC Auxiliary received two $1,000 first place awards, one for its work with children and another for its multi-level involvement in the Illinois trade expo. PHCC of Delaware was given two $500 second place awards, also in the small-group category. The Delaware group was recognized for its program and scholarships to promote careers in the trades.
Two Nebraska-based auxiliaries received awards in the large-group category. PHCC Auxiliary of Lincoln (NE) was given a $1,000 first place award for its support of veterans at OVER House and children through Jacob’s Well and Friendship Home. Receiving a $500 second place award was PHCC Auxiliary of Nebraska, which donated cash and hygiene items to CEDARS, a local organization serving underprivileged youth.
The Robert M. Cox Humanitarian Award winners are selected by a panel of judges from nominations submitted by local Auxiliary members.