The Construction Leader Newsletter: Fall 2008  


One characteristic that defines Western Pennsylvania is the generosity of its residents. In spite of ever growing economic challenges, the spirit of giving continues to prevail as local contractors and tradesmen open their pockets and hearts to provide services to those in need.

Every year the Mechanical Contractors Association of Western Pennsylvania (MCA) along with members of Steamfitters Local Union No. 449, in collaboration with Equitable, Dominion Peoples, and Columbia Gas companies and the Allegheny County Department of Human Services, donate time, labor, expertise and materials to assist low income disabled and senior citizens with free heating system checks, equipment and repairs.

Now in its 20th year, Project Heat's On was first established nationally in 1988 as a charitable initiative to inspect, service and address various home heating needs of elderly and disabled residents who might not otherwise afford service calls or costly repairs to assure their safety and warmth in the winter months. Over the years, the program has evolved and grown, much like the population of senior citizens in Western Pennsylvania.

"The program has been around for a long time because it's so desperately needed and because people in our industry really want to give of themselves in order to meet those needs," said Ken Broadbent, Business Representative of Steamfitters Local Union No. 449. "Over the past 19 years, our members and contractors have contributed approximately $700,000 in labor and materials."

Approximately 125-130 volunteers participate locally in the non-profit effort each year. On average, 18 individual mechanical contractors donate 60 vans and work with over 100 union apprentices and journeymen traveling throughout


From left, Steamfitters local Union No. 449 members Tony Balestra, Mark Connor, Terry Kelly, Nancy Thornton, Ted Tempalski, Eric Wright, Mike Stanley and Howard Jack pose for a group photo before heading out to help area senior citizens and disabled residents with their heating needs.

the county to some 100 homes to evaluate and make necessary repairs.

"Our contractors and tradesmen are some of the most reputable, qualified and skilled in the business and they really make a difference because they not only want to help, but they do the work right," noted Rege Claus, Executive Director of the Mechanical Contractors Association of Western Pennsylvania, Inc.

Technicians diagnose what needs to be done to keep heating systems functioning and they will perform anything from routine maintenance to furnace, hot water heater, or boiler replacement if necessary. They will also install vendor-donated smoke and CO detectors in some homes.

"By offering assistance and repairs to home heating systems, we are potentially preventing emergency breakdowns in the dead of winter and addressing what could otherwise be serious health and safety issues and/or fire hazards," Mr. Broadbent added. "We're fortunate to have a talented workforce willing to give of themselves."

In December of 2007, the Master Builders' Association Young Constructors (MBA YC) hosted its inaugural holiday party raising more than $5,000 and over 130 toys for The Marine Toys For Tots Foundation. The MBA YC filled a need for our area by hosting an all inclusive holiday event. Numerous companies and associations host holiday parties, but this one attracted all sectors of Westem Pennsylvania's design and construction industry. “The YC is so thankful for the generosity of our region's construction industry,” said Michael Kuhn, Chairman of the YC. “We set out to do something special for a charitable cause benefiting children and the overwhelming support is a testament to the acceptance of this event.” The MBA YC will host the second annual MBA YC Holiday Party this year in support of Project Bundle Up. The mission of the MBA YC is to expose and educate young industry leaders to all aspects of the design and construction industry through continuing education, peer networking and community service.

Dwight Kuhn, Executive Vice President of Jendoco Construction Corporation (left) and Mike Kuhn, Chairman of the MBA' Young Constructors and Vice President of Jendoco, are accompanied by their wives, Kathy and Megan, respectively, to the holiday fundraiser in support of The Marines Toys For Tots Foundation.



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