SFPUC Social Impact Firms Step Up in the Bayview During COVID-19 Crisis

Two firms are doing their part to make a major impact in the Bayview community during the COVID-19 crisis.

Pankow and MWH Constructors/Webcor Builders Joint Venture are two firms that the SFPUC are contracting with for major Sewer System Improvement Program (SSIP) projects in the Bayview.

Both firms are designated SFPUC Social Impact Partnership allies who for the past few weeks have been working to support food distribution in Southeast neighborhoods.

“We know that food insecurity is a huge community need at this time for families who have lost income and who are staying at home to take care of children,” said Social Impact Partnership Manager Tracy Zhu. “I’m really thankful to our firms for meeting the need at this time.”

Bayview Senior Services and the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank have been anchor institutions providing meals and groceries to food-insecure residents. The SFPUC firm partners have stepped up in the face of a dramatic increase in food demand and decreased turnout of volunteers during the shelter-in-place order.

Team members with MWH Constructors/Webcor Builders Joint Venture, and RDJ Enterprises prepare meals at the Bayview Senior Center for vulnerable populations in the Bayview community.

Both MWH Constructors/Webcor Builders Joint Venture and Pankow are volunteering as a part of their participation in the Social Impact Partnership to give back to the communities in which they perform work on behalf of the SFPUC.

Pankow is currently building the new Southeast Community Center at 1550 Evans.

The firm sent groups of volunteers to support the Food Bank’s pop-up pantries located at MLK Middle School and Cornerstone Church on Monday, May 18, and Thursday, May 21, at a time when many regular pantries were not operating due to the shelter-in-place order.

“It’s so rewarding to serve over 900 people at just one event,” said Rebekah Thomson, senior engineer for Pankow. “It’s a lot of exercise to pack and distribute the grocery bags that are over 25 pounds each. These pop-up pantry events allow Pankow to give back to the community at this time.”

All volunteers are observing proper social distancing and proper hygiene protocols, which they have familiarity with at their job sites. Pankow has plans to continue volunteering at food distribution events like those hosted by the Food Bank and other trusted community partners.

MWH Constructors/Webcor Builders Joint Venture is currently working on the Biodigester facilities project at the Southeast Treatment Plant. The firm is providing three volunteers twice-per-week to the Bayview Senior Center to deliver meals to home-bound seniors who have little or no support.

“When we found out that there was a need in the neighborhood during shelter-in-place, we decided to step up to the plate to help out on Tuesdays and Wednesdays with the lunches,” said Nihan Tiryaki, vice president of MWH Constructors/Webcor Builders Joint Venture. “We were really excited to make an impact and help.”

Tiryaki said that although their group is volunteering on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, they plan to continue their volunteering efforts beyond the shelter-in-place order and make this a long-term relationship with the neighborhood.

Volunteers observe proper social distancing and proper hygiene protocols while preparing and delivering meals for Bayview senior citizens during the shelter-in-place Order.

Most of their volunteering efforts have included packing lunches at the Bayview Senior Center and driving around the neighborhood making no-contact deliveries and leaving lunches at the door for homebound senior citizens. As members of the City’s most vulnerable population, these deliveries help ensure that local senior citizens in underserved communities reduce their exposure to COVID-19.

“We work really close with the Bayview Senior Center that gives us a list and a route, so it’s all really organized and structured by the Bayview Senior Center,” said Tiryaki. “It’s really rewarding just having that interaction with seniors, even if it was just a quick second to acknowledge each other and ask how they were doing.”

Ellouise Patton works with RDJ Enterprises, a sub-consultant who is coordinating MWH Constructors/Webcor Builders Joint Venture’s volunteers to deliver meals for the Bayview Senior Center.

According to Patton, the relationship with the Bayview Senior Center has been ongoing for several years.

“It’s a good way for the volunteers to get out in the community and see the community from a different perspective,” said Patton. “We’re putting the seniors as priority because many of them are legacy members of the community and helped build this. These are the folks who were doing the work back in the day.”

Patton also mentioned that for many of the seniors, who can no longer spend their time at the Bayview Senior Center, this is their social outlet and their opportunity to see other people outside of their family and caretakers.

“We have a person we deliver to that is 103 years old, and when we deliver she wants to have conversation with us,” said Patton. “She sits in the window and she waits for us to come. That to me is a sign of the importance of this work. That’s the only interaction she gets with the outside world outside of her nurse and her family. That’s a social time for her.”

Volunteers for food distribution continue to be a high need for local communities during this economic depression. Anyone – SFPUC employee, firm employees, or members of the public – who is interested in supporting local nonprofit organizations, can contact Tracy Zhu (tzhu@sfwater.org).