“Home is where the heart is,” or as our California colleagues learned firsthand when they built a home for a Mexican family in need, “El hogar es donde está el corazón.” This #BuildingWhatMatters story illustrates the impact building can have not only on a family, but a community.
Some Skanska projects take years and thousands of people to complete. A recent project in Tijuana, Mexico, took just 40 people and one day.
Don’t let a short timeline fool you, though. This service project, while of a smaller magnitude than a typical Skanska hospital or highway build, will have a lasting impact.
On June 20, about 40 Skanska employees and friends volunteered their time to build a small home in Tijuana for the De Leon Estradas, a local family of six. It was a long day: the team left their southern California homes as early as 4 a.m. to meet the staff with Corazón – the nonprofit organization that coordinated the project– and take a bus across the border. They wouldn’t get home until about 7:30 that night.
When our team arrived at the home site, they were met by a slab foundation and a pile of lumber. But they weren’t totally starting from scratch: they had already planned how to proceed, with help from Corazon and the De Leon Estrada family and friends who participated in the build as well.
As soon as the volunteer team arrived at the site, they quickly began executing the plans to build the complete one-bedroom home that measures 16 feet by 20 feet. As the hot sun started to rise, the group laid pieces out against the dry dirt and fence. Some started painting. Others started to assemble.
“Everything happened fast,” said Mike Cherry, Skanska senior preconstruction director. “People were building the kitchen counter as the walls were being put up.”
While speed was important to complete the project in time, our colleagues also worked to ensure it was an injury-free day. Besides the pre-planning and morning Stretchand-Flex exercises, they incorporated an innovative scaffolding system that improved the safety of roof access.
The project went quickly and the one-bedroom home was completed by 2:45 p.m. when the keys were presented to the De Leon Estrada family. The build out included everything but electricity and plumbing, which the De Leon Estrada’s will add themselves or with the help of the local Corazon community.
The Skanska team and the De Leon Estrada family is all smiles after completing the build.
Cherry said this project meant something different from previous charity initiatives.
“If Skanska didn’t show up that morning, the family wouldn’t have a home that fit their needs,” he said. “We built this for the right reason, while working as one Skanska team.”
Jenn Allen, Corazon executive director, explained the impact this new home would have for the De Leon Estradas, who participate in the Corazon Community by helping not only build their home, but homes for others in Tijuana as well.
“We believe that when people are given an opportunity to build something life changing – safe shelter for themselves and their family, education and training to get a job, life skills to improve their personal and family life – amazing things happen,” said Allen. “Those on the receiving end feel empowered and gain strength and courage. And those giving are deeply moved by the tangible impact they are making on people’s lives.”
The family explained their involvement in Corazon and the importance of this new home to them in this video before the project began:
This was the second consecutive year a Skanska team traveled to Tijuana to help a family in need. On May 14, 2016 we will be back again.
“This day has come to mean so much to us.” Cherry said.
How are you #BuildingWhatMatters? Share your stories with us on Twitter @SkanskaUSA.