October 21, 2008
Elkins Constructors Completes Facility to Serve People with Disabilities:
Many Donate to Bring Building to Life
Jacksonville, Florida - Elkins Constructors, Inc. recently completed the construction of the new Life Enrichment Center for Pine Castle in Jacksonville.
The new 17,000 square-foot center allows Pine Castle to expand their services to people who are challenged with the most severe levels of intellectual and physical disabilities in our community. The new facility will replace the oldest structure on campus and will serve as the new home of the agency's Seniors Program and Life Skills Program, which serve those individuals with the most intensive daily needs.
"This project answers two of the most pressing campus needs, expansion of programs serving those with severe and profound disabilities and senior program participants. We couldn't have done it without Elkins and the help of the many local subcontractors who rallied around our mission," said Pine Castle Executive Director Jon May.
"Pine Castle's founders had a revolutionary vision. They saw people with disabilities learning, earning paychecks, and being a part of the community," said May. "That vision is being realized. A once shut-away and forgotten portion of our community that almost no one had any expectations for, has now become a greater part of the community - a part of the community that matters."
The $4 million building was made possible by a host of donor organizations, local businesses and the Jacksonville construction community. The building includes space for life skills programs, physical, speech and sensory therapy, a wellness clinic, program offices, laundry room and a kitchen. It also includes rooms for senior programs and adult education, a multipurpose room and computer lab.
Opened in 1952, Pine Castle is a non-profit organization in Jacksonville that provides support services to 350 people each year with developmental and other disabilities, such as autism, spina bifida, cerebral palsy, Down Syndrome and traumatic brain injuries. To accommodate their participants' diverse needs and talents, Pine Castle offers a variety of specialized programs to support individuals in becoming as independent as their abilities will permit. Those services include job preparation training with paid work opportunities, employment and job-coaching services, basic academic training, daily life skills training, leisure activities, and residential services.
"Pine Castle fills a vital need in our community. They allow people with disabilities to reach a goal that you and I take for granted everyday - the opportunity to have normal life," said Project Executive David Hamilton. "We wanted to support them and help them reach their goal."
Elkins and TTV Architects, who designed the project, reduced their fees in support of the non-profit and received more than $300,000 in donations of materials and labor from the Jacksonville subcontractor community.
Every year, TTV Principal Tri Vu chooses a pro bono project to which he donates architectural services. He said Pine Castle was an easy choice. "They have a good plan to help people who have disabilities. I took a tour and watched them work. What they do is very inspiring," said Vu, who added that the organization had a real need. "The facility they had was small and old. We wanted to give them a new face. We wanted to create a main entrance to a campus - one that ties all the buildings on the campus together. Now, when you go to Pine Castle, they have an inviting entrance onto their campus."
Vu commended Elkins on their work. This was the first project the two companies have completed together. "Elkins did a fantastic job. The project was coordinated well. The people were easy to work with. The quality of the work was good," said Vu.
The largest donation by a subcontractor was made by A.J. Johns, Inc., a local utility construction and site development contractor. The company has had a long-standing business relationship Pine Castle. They purchase survey stakes that the non-profit organization manufactures and sells as part of a paid work program for its participants. Even the downturn in economy did not deter his company from helping Pine Castle, said A.J. Johns, president of the company.
"It's hard to give in a slow economy, but it is the right thing to do. We've been doing business with the people at Pine Castle for 38 years, and I have a friend who has a daughter at Pine Castle, said Johns. "We know how important Pine Castle is to the community. It is a very worthy cause and it is important that our community take care of the people there," said Johns.
Elkins also donated a new railroad bell to the organization. For the past 56 years, Pine Castle has used a bell to notify participants when it is time to change classes. The old bell was worn and cracked. Gus Evans, assistant project manager and Josh Shober, project superintendent for Elkins, purchased a plaque to go with the new bell. "It sums up how we feel about Pine Castle and their importance to our community," they agreed. The plaque reads, "To our friends at Pine Castle, May you continue to enrich the lives in this community."
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