Giving Back: GZA's 2022 Community Service Grant Program
At a Glance
Caring for the communities in which, and for which, GZA works is one of our firm’s core values.
Supporting individual employees’ active community service involvement through GZA’s Community Service Grant Program is part of how we meet that commitment. Since the program began in 2013, GZA has awarded over $100,000 to more than 70 organizations.
Each summer, during a companywide presentation, the previous year’s grant recipients share details of the impact the GZA funding had on the organization with which they actively volunteer. The 2022 grant recipients who recently shared their stories included:
First Robotics Team #8544
Eric Bregman, P.E., Senior Project Manager, GZA Contractor Services Division, Norwood, MA
FIRST® inspires young people to be science and technology leaders and innovators, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering, and technology skills; inspire innovation; and foster self-confidence, communication, and leadership. FIRST® Robotics Competition teams design, program, and build a robot starting with a standard kit of parts and common set of rules to play in a themed head-to-head challenge. Teams also build a brand, develop community partnerships for support, and work to promote STEM in their local community.
Eric began mentoring his local, Sutton, Massachusetts-based First Robotics team at his daughter’s school several years ago. The team, called Reinforcement, comprises students in grades 6-12 from Sutton, Grafton, Auburn Middle/High Schools in Massachusetts. Eric is consistently impressed by the students’ inquisitiveness, hard work, and camaraderie. The GZA grant funded tool, material, and equipment purchases to build the 2023 season robot.
Montclair History Center
Helen Fallon, CPSM, Senior Marketing and Communications Specialist, GZA Fairfield, NJ
The Montclair History Center, founded in 1965, preserves and shares Montclair, New Jersey’s local history through its historical buildings, artifacts, and programs, and provides a connection to the larger context of regional and national history. The house that it interprets as a museum has four periods of significance: the late 1700s when it was built by one of the descendants of the town’s founding father; the late 1800s when train service to New York City created the railroad suburb that is still recognizable today; the 1920s-1940s when the house was an African American YWCA, providing safe haven and boarding for Black women traveling up north during the Great Migration; and the 1940s-1960s. The nearly two-acre site also houses three additional historic structures, a woodworking shop, a community farm, an open green space, and a large, historic herb garden.
Helen has been a Trustee for 10 years. She researches and leads historic walking tours and presentations, writes blog posts and articles, and advises on communications and marketing matters. The grant was used to purchase outdoor seating (two ADA-accessible, 8-foot picnic tables) which became increasing important during the pandemic. The tables continue to be used daily by school field trip attendees, summer campers, visitors, staff, and volunteers.
Engineers without Borders Chicagoland Professional Chapter
Eddy Phelps, P.E., Project Manager, GZA Philadelphia, PA
GZA has supported multiple chapters of Engineers Without Borders (EWB) over the years, and we are excited to be involved once again. The Engineers Without Borders Chicagoland Professional Chapter has worked with the community of Wema Children’s Centre & Highway Academy in Bukembe, Kenya--an academic campus that serves approximately 600 consumers/students—to improve sanitation, water quality and access to clean water. In 2017, EWB installed a deep well pump and filtration system to address water contamination issues on campus; in 2019, the team gathered information about collapsed latrine structures and inspected the disabled well pump while also installing rainwater harvesting tanks to increase the volume of available water for non-potable use; under remote supervision during the pandemic, the team designed, facilitated and oversaw the construction of a permanent bathroom building and a solar panel racking structure that would support a higher capacity pump to provide power independently from the electrical utility. The team was able to travel to the site in 2022 and facilitated installation of the higher capacity pump, installation of solar panels to power the pump, and expansion of the existing water distribution line to the surrounding community beyond the campus. In 2023, the community water distribution line was expanded from ½” pipe to 2” pipe and extended further into the surrounding community, bringing reliably clean water to approximately 1300 consumers – more than double those previously served.
The impact to the community engineering improvement cannot be overstated, not just for its ability to reduce the likelihood of occurrence of water-borne illness to a much larger community, but because it eliminates the need for (mostly women and girls) to travel great distances multiple times each day to secure water – now making that time available for other endeavors such as education and employment. Access to clean water is an essential building block for a higher quality of life.
Eddy first became involved with EWB in 2018; when the pandemic restricted travel in 2020 and 2021, his team provided engineering design and remote construction supervision; in June 2022 he visited the site for the first time to oversee the initial expansion of the water line, perform geotechnical soil borings for future structures, and observe water runoff from daily rainfall for a possible future rain garden construction to manage the stormwater volume. The GZA grant monies were used to purchase pipe supplies for the second phase of the water expansion. Eddy and other EWB team members plan to return to Wema in the fall of 2023 to oversee construction of another bathroom building, rain gardens, and a 30-foot-tall water tower that will enable Wema to provide water to approximately 5,000 consumers in the surrounding community.
The following 2023 Community Service Grant awardees were also announced. Stay tuned to learn more about:
- Backpack Buddies: Fighting food insecurity in East Harlem, NY. Stephen Kline, Associate Principal, GZA Manhattan and his family volunteer with this organization.
- Laundry Love: Helps low or no-income families and individuals afford the cost of washing clothing and bedding. Megan Elwell, Scientist I, GZA Providence, volunteers for Laundry Love.
- Philadelphia Blind Hockey: provides opportunities for individuals who are blind or partially sighted to participate in the parasport of Blind Hockey. Kelly McGuire, Senior Administrative Assistant, GZA Philadelphia has been involved with the Philadelphia program since its inception in 2021.