In 2008, the Nashville office of
JE Dunn Construction took a look at their annual giving and decided to change things up a bit. Instead of dividing their charitable donations among several different causes, they decided to pick just one.
“Our goal was to be more purposeful with our giving, and we thought we could have more of an impact if we chose one nonprofit to focus on,” says Jeff Fuller, Senior Vice President of the Nashville office. After sorting through all the options, the choice was unanimous: Our Kids.
“It’s been a great relationship for us,” says Fuller, who is currently serving his second year on the Our Kids board. “Being active with Our Kids and seeing their impact on Middle Tennessee has been wonderful. The passion that the staff has to help families is incredible.”
So why was Our Kids the right fit for JE Dunn?
Fuller cites powerful statistics: 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 7 boys will be a victim of child sexual abuse before the age of 18. He hopes to call attention to this.
“The biggest thing that we can do is make sure that this issue is not swept under the rug and that we don’t run away from it,” he says.
“If this were any other issue, it would be on a poster or a billboard. It would be considered an epidemic. Child sexual abuse is just not discussed as much, and we need to change that.”
Running full speed ahead
To that end, JE Dunn created the annual Hammer Down Race in 2015.
Held each fall right before Thanksgiving, the race has three lengths – 1K, 5K and 10K – with all paths looping through downtown Nashville.
Participants receive race bibs, long-sleeve T-shirts and awards for different age groups, as well as information they can take home on how to prevent or identify child sexual abuse.
By raising awareness for Our Kids in a fun, competitive format, JE Dunn has sparked conversations with people who may not have been aware of the organization before. And in 2016 alone, the race raised $100,000 for Our Kids.
Helping in a time of need
Based in Kansas City, JE Dunn Construction is the tenth largest general building contractor in the U.S., and they use their size and skill in many of Our Kids’ construction projects.
- When the Our Kids building suffered structural damage in the 2010 flood, JE Dunn conducted a facilities audit and coordinated the process that helped Our Kids restore the location.
- They have replaced the flooring in the lobby to make the space more appealing.
- Over the last year, the company has focused on building a fence around the covered parking area.
All of these improvements are designed to make Our Kids a safer and more comfortable space.
“If we can use our expertise in the construction business to help the staff focus more on helping children, that’s what we’re going to do,” Fuller says. “If we can help with infrastructure and building expansion, Our Kids can continue to branch out and serve even more families. With the support we offer, we hope that they can hire additional staff and have more resources to provide their unduplicated services to Middle Tennessee.”
None of this, Fuller says, would be possible without the enthusiasm shown by JE Dunn’s employees.
“Once we introduce our employees to Our Kids, they get extremely excited and energized,” Fuller says. “They’ll do anything that they can to help. To see the spark that all of them have to keep helping is rewarding. Construction is traditionally a male-dominated industry, and to see our team pull together to shine a light on an important issue like this is rewarding.
“Our Kids has helped me become more aware of the issue and I’m a more thankful person now. I am blessed that I’ve not had to go through something like this, and that my kids haven’t. But hearing about all the ways Our Kids helps children and families who have gone through it — that makes you grateful that they continue this mission.”