CBI Associates (from left to right) John Kline, Thom Klingman, David Longo, Kenny Sondys, Laura Magera, Jeff Jordan, Seth Duvernay and guests Felipe Izquierdo and Jim McAllistor pose for a picture after a day of homebuilding in West Virginia.
Last month, seven CBI Associates and two guests traveled to Dunlow, West Virginia to meet student volunteers from Immaculata High School and Seton Hall University to participate in a weeklong home build for local resident Greg Sowards. Dunlow is an area of extreme poverty where many in the community struggle to make ends meet day after day. Greg is a disabled veteran who is known well in Dunlow for his service to others and regularly volunteers his time assisting Billy and Addie Likens, the husband and wife team responsible for providing extensive outreach and resources to individuals and families in need in the area.
Billy and Addie regularly partner with CBI, the Live Love Serve Foundation and other community groups to make an impact in their town, and a few years aga built and began operating an amazing new recreational center where children from the community can hang out after school and where local families can get support and services that range from employment coaching, substance abuse counseling, financial counseling and more.
CBI and the Live Love Serve Foundation have a unique tradition of outreach in this area and for the last six years, CBI has sponsored a Christmas Event at the Dunlow Rec Center, where Associates visit and serve residents a warm meal, hand out gifts and necessities and offer a heartwarming Christmas experience that many families would not have if it weren’t for the donation of others. This year, CBI took their holiday outreach a step further when they volunteered to participate in this exciting homebuild for Mr. Sowers.
“This year was the first year CBI participated in the homebuilding work camp in Dunlow,” says David Longo, CBI’s Founder, Chairman and CEO. “Our company has strong relationships with many of the residents of this area because of our service at Christmastime. It was incredibly special for our team members to be able to come back this summer and participate in a different type of outreach that still supports the individuals we have gotten to know and love.”
The first day the team showed up onsite, they were full of energy and ready to get started with the build. Greg joined the team and contributed greatly to the development of his new home. The walls of the home were already prefabricated by a group of high school students in the area studying carpentry. The first day of the build consisted of putting in floor joys, building the deck and standing all the interior and exterior walls by the end of the day. Trusses were up by the end of day two and the roof, windows and doors followed.
Thom Klingman, VP of New Business Development at CBI, was part of the crew and says of the experience, “It was really neat to see these high school and college kids from Immaculata and Seton Hall in action. The kids did the bulk of the heavy lifting with guidance from adult team members. It was inspiring to see how excited and committed they were to the cause and it was really nice to be able to teach them new things in the process.”
This was the first trip to Dunlow for Laura Magera, Senior Design Project Manager at CBI. When asked what her favorite part of the experience was she said, “I particularly liked that we got to visit the community and meet residents from the area. One of the most inspirational parts of the trip was speaking to two volunteers whose house burned down several years ago and were helped by the organization to build their new home. They now volunteer whenever they can to pay it forward, even though one of the individuals suffers from ALS. The locals in Dunlow live such simple lives and are grateful for whatever they have. When you’re around that kind of energy it’s infectious, and it makes you realize how important the work is that we are doing.”
Not only was the outreach aspect of this trip important, but it was also a great week of connection. Many of the students involved in the build knew of each other in school but were not necessarily friendly or close. Same with some of the CBI Associates who participated from different markets. By the end of the week, many of the students were exchanging phone numbers and making plans to get together at home, and CBI Associates developed new bonds with colleagues they don’t get to work with each day.
Laura says, “I also enjoyed spending time with the CBI Team in a different setting. At work we are always doing some many things at once we don’t often have the time to slow down and catch up personally. It was great to be able to spend some time having casual conversations with my colleagues while working with each other and the students.”
“Our relationship with Billy and Addie and the teams at Immaculata and Seton Hall is nothing short of amazing.” says David “Our associates look forward to our visit every year at Christmas, and now they look forward to making the homebuilding trip a tradition. Not only did the CBI team show up and help build the house, but they are responsible for raising the $40,000 in funds that were needed to purchase building materials, tools, paint and more to make this happen. I am extremely proud of our Associates and the passion they have for this ministry. We are truly blessed as a company to have such amazing people willing to give their time, talent and treasure.”
CBI and the Live Love Serve Foundation are proud to partner with Immaculata and Seton Hall to support the people of Dunlow each year. Learn more about our annual Christmas event in the town here, and consider joining us on our next trip to Wayne County.