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Kathryn Merritt - Great Kate Construction

Volunteering is Good for Business

Since Kathryn Merritt joined the Peace Corps in the 1970’s, volunteering has been in her blood. Now, as the local business owner of Great Kate Construction, a remodeling and construction company, Merritt makes sure her five crew members get a chance to experience volunteerism firsthand. The Community Builders Program’s Winter and Spring Workdays events would not have been the same without their skill and generosity.

While Merritt paid her crew to complete jobs repairing porches and stairs for two homeowners in North Portland, she ultimately donated her team’s labor, not to mention valuable materials to get the job done. “It was fun and a morale booster,” she said. “Volunteering gives them a break from the usual routine.”

Homeowners who participate in REACH’s Workdays sessions savor their independence and want to remain part of their community. Thanks to support from businesses like Great Kate Construction, each year the Community Builders Program is able to serve over 200 homeowners who have low incomes due to age or disability. The improvements spearheaded by Merritt’s crew are among the hundreds of free home repairs the program completes each year. In addition to keeping seniors and people with disabilities safe in their homes, the Community Builders Program also prevents displacement of longtime residents from their neighborhoods—Janetter, one of the homeowners Great Kate partnered with this year, has been in her home since 1988. Every day, she visits her mother, who lives across the street.

According to Merritt, a slowdown in construction jobs is a great time for contractors to start marketing and building their businesses back up. She sees volunteering as a good way to develop contacts and promote a business. “A company’s van parked outside the job site is free advertising,” she said.

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