AEC Cares "projectOrlando"

Giving back to the communities in which we live and work is an integral component of Heery’s culture, especially when our employees can pair a passion for service with their professional expertise. One such account of this willingness to give back occurred in Heery’s Orlando office where Senior Interior Designer Barbara Vallella and Senior Project Manager Bob Egleston provided their leadership, guidance and sweat equity into a AEC Cares community project for a local homeless shelter in Downtown Orlando.

Every year during the AIA Conference of Architecture, AEC Cares links architecture and construction professionals and selects a local organization that could use the help from a group of architects and construction volunteers, leading manufacturers and sponsors from across the U.S. In the case of Orlando where this year's Convention was held, the Coalition for the Homeless was selected and the mission, titled “projectOrlando”, was to update the finishes in the Center for Women and Families. This center is home to women and single parent families and works closely to help people get back on their feet and find housing/employment in order to sustain themselves.

Design professionals in Orlando gave of their time to design finish upgrades to the main lobby, the residential corridors and the multi-purpose family room.  Barbara Vallella, spent countless hours designinh a system of durable wall panels and wood-look flooring for the residential corridors, plus reaching out to manufacturers in search of product donations. During the event, she oversaw the work in the maze of corridors leading to all the residential rooms.

Barbara explained, “It is always personally rewarding when I can make a difference in helping others in our community, something that the Heery family has supported for many years. Equally gratifying is when I can be a part of the local design team and work with the AEC Cares team of dedicated men, women and volunteers.”

The Coalition for the Homeless is the largest provider of homeless services in Central Florida. Since 1987, the Coalition has provided temporary home and comprehensive services that helps to increase economic and housing stability now and for the future. It is one of the few emergency shelters in the area that accepts intact families and offers shelter, meals and services for self-sufficiency. Each day on average, the Coalition serves more than 600 women, children, families and veterans. To best care for its residents, the Coalition solicited the help of AEC Cares to improve the facility and create a warm environment that feels like a home.

After the design team finalized the scope of the project, more than 100 volunteers arrived on April 26’s blitz-build to install new flooring, paint, furniture wall cladding, ceiling tiles and more.

The event was covered live on social media including live links to the AIA Convention. Event day photography was used to keep interested individuals updated. Heery architect and photographer, Bob Egleston, donated his time to document the event and spent all day shooting candid photography of the work in progress. He also photographed the lunch time speakers and award ceremony. In addition, he took “before” and “after” architectural photos of the areas being renovated.

“Seeing these families in need and their plight in life is heart breaking, and it is especially so when you see their little kids in the daycare center,” Bob noted. “The Coalition is doing a great work in helping these families find their way back into a normal life. Being part of this project was pure joy.”