When Skanska crews mobilized for work on the 1350 Boylston Street project in Boston, MA, one of the first things they did was go next door to McKinley Prep, a local high school, to introduce themselves as the new neighbors for a couple of years.
What they didn’t expect to find was a student body in need of a helping hand.
Skanska USA President & CEO Rich Cavallaro (left) visits with some of the workers at 1350 Boylston and the students who painted the mural at the left.
Senior Project Superintendent Jim McDonald and the team discovered some of the kids lacked winter coats (they could be seen walking to and from school in freezing temperatures) and some got their only meal of the day when they were in school. McDonald says it was common to see teachers making trips to the local supermarket with groceries in tow; teachers told crewmembers they would buy breakfast and lunch for kids who needed it.
“We started taking up collections on the jobsite to buy the school gift cards for things they needed” says McDonald. “We wanted to help in any way we could.”
The students responded to the teams’ generosity by delivering handwritten thank you cards and started to spend more and more time around the job site chatting about the project. Slowly an idea to get the kids involved in an arts project on the site took shape.
The 1350 Boylston project is a Skanska Commercial Development project – our fifth in Boston and our second multifamily development. It’s also in the heart of the Fenway district.
With the jobsite perimeter fence bordering the school property McDonald and the “three Marks” – Terrien, MacIsaac, and Contrado – invited the students to decorate it. The kids used their imaginations, taking photos of some of the workers on site and making silhouette stencils that were painted on the plywood sheathing surrounding a Skanska logo in the center.
During a Safety Week 2016 visit to the site, Skanska USA President & CEO Rich Cavallaro took the time to visit with kids and snap a few pictures in front of their artwork.
“Rich’s visit had a special impact on the kids and some of them have become interested in careers in construction,” says McDonald. “When we first mobilized here the plan was to work with the school in the hopes of using their parking lot to benefit our job. What we found out was that they needed our help more than we needed theirs. Stepping up to do the right thing is part of who we are, and we’re glad we can lend them a hand.”
Jim “Jimmy Mac” McDonald, second from left, with the McKinley Prep students and Skanska crew members, in front of the mural in Boston.