Building Stronger Communities with Reed Construction and Project H.O.O.D.
By Samantha Schnettler and Caitlin McCann
In 2014, Reed Construction founded the Reed Charitable Foundation with a mission to build stronger communities through enriched access to education and quality healthcare. As we embarked on our mission, we developed meaningful relationships with local organizations that share our passion.
In 2017, Pastor Corey Brooks of Project H.O.O.D. invited North Shore high school students and their parents to engage with Woodlawn and Englewood high school students in an open dialogue about diversity. Among this group was Reed Construction President & CEO, Bill Birck, wife, Beverly, and son, Will. While Will discovered commonalities with his peers, his parents connected with Pastor Brooks over their shared aspiration to build stronger, safer communities. “Project H.O.O.D. is so community-based. Similarly, our roots are in Chicago. Their mission and approach aligns with the Foundation. I commend Pastor Brooks and am absolutely in awe of everything he’s doing to help the South Side of Chicago,” said Beverly.
Project H.O.O.D.’s tangible impact on the South Side inspired the entire Birck family. Their daughter, Grace, was motivated to host a fundraiser, which succeeded in sending 8 children from Woodlawn and Englewood to summer camp for 10 weeks.
As the fifth-generation owner of Reed Construction, Bill was drawn to Project H.O.O.D.’s Skilled Trades Training course, which teaches entry-level carpentry skills to adolescents looking to start a career in the industry. “We are seeing an age gap in the trades, partially as a result of the 2008 Recession. To close this gap, we are supporting trade programs which provide an alternative to a 4-year university while guaranteeing a rewarding career,” explains Bill. To support this initiative, the Foundation committed to providing the materials and equipment needed for a 12-week course for 25 students.
Like countless others, many aspects of our lives changed as the COVID-19 pandemic spread. When millions lost their jobs, they were suddenly faced with the inability to afford and access basic necessities. Once the Illinois stay-at-home order was announced, Bill contacted the organizations the Foundation supports, including Project H.O.O.D., to offer assistance in their communities.
After re-assessing their immediate needs, Pastor Brooks and Bill mutually agreed that the construction program funds would be re-allocated to their emergency coronavirus drive. In April, Project H.O.O.D.’s Coronavirus Emergency Relief Fund successfully raised money and collected in-kind donations. However, the magnitude of their needs was exemplified at their May 24th Food Drive-Up where families were given a pre-packed box of perishables, non-perishables, and toiletries. The line of cars stretched for blocks – on that day alone, Project H.O.O.D. served over 5,000 families.
Only one week after the Food Drive-Up, Project H.O.O.D.’s community was devastated by riots and looting. As explained by Pastor Brooks, “We often see the country standing together in times of crisis. Unfortunately, the least of those among us continue to suffer.” In addition to leading a neighborhood cleanup, Project H.O.O.D will be hosting another Food Drive-Up on June 20th to provide essentials to 5,000 more families. To learn more about Project H.O.O.D. and support their work, visit https://www.projecthood.org/events/rent-food-assistance.