May 20, 2020

For more than half a century, Gresham Smith has successfully endured and adapted to social, economic, environmental and technological change, reflecting a resiliency that we are leaning into, perhaps now more than ever, as we navigate unknown territory amid a global pandemic. Throughout the decades—and during these unparalleled last few months—one constant theme has been conveying our core values of commitment, integrity, respect and teamwork through our projects and through our people supporting the communities they call home.

The late Bill Withers famously sang, “Just call on me brother, when you need a hand, we all need somebody to lean on.” And in that spirit, Gresham Smith employees have been lending a helping hand to their brothers and sisters in their local communities during the COVID-19 crisis as a way to offer our solidarity and to simply say, “thank you.” Here are a few ways that we’ve been giving back to those who continue to give so much to us.


Supporting Healthcare Workers

The coronavirus pandemic has spurred the evolution of 3D printing techniques to help cope with the severe shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), which is putting healthcare workers, especially those on the front lines, at risk of contracting this highly infectious disease.

While Chris Gaddes, a CADD technician in Gresham Smith’s Industrial market, typically utilizes the 3D printers at General Motors’ Spring Hill facility in Tennessee to create manufacturing-related parts and assembly tools for the auto industry, he is currently using the plant’s 3D printing capabilities to produce vital PPE components.

It all started when Chris and a small group of General Motors workers were asked by a GM representative if they could generate items such as face shield headsets and retention straps that hold the plexiglass face shields in place using 3D printing to support the development of PPE for Maury Regional healthcare workers.

Chris and the group reached out to their local suppliers and now have a team producing the items. To date, more than 1,000 retention straps have been printed for Maury Regional Health. The headset orders have been ramping up, too!


3D-printed face shield headset


3D-printed “fishbones” hold face shield retention straps in place 


Also answering healthcare workers’ call for help, Christian Stanley, a project coordinator in our Healthcare market, has been utilizing 3D printing to make face shields for the local medical community in Tampa, Florida.



Slowing the Spread

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now recommending the use of cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the coronavirus, and Gina Voccola, also from our Tampa Healthcare group, has been busy making cloth face masks for Gresham Smith staff who are required to visit job sites during the pandemic.

As pictured above, even stylish face masks that support our employees’ favorite local teams are no problem for Gina! Her daughter’s day care facility has also benefited from some of her colorful, dinosaur-themed face coverings. To date, Gina has made approximately 80 masks!



A Whole Lotta Sewing Going On!

Cut, iron, fold, stitch and repeat! Well, something like that. Gresham Smith’s Sivilay Xayasaene lent some of her interior design flare to 30 homemade masks that she personally donated and delivered to Loaves & Fishes Charlotte-Mecklenburg—a food pantry that provides groceries to individuals and families in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, who are in short-term crisis. With help from her mom, Sivilay has a veritable production line running in her home with the material to make 200 additional masks!


Staff at Loaves & Fishes Charlotte-Mecklenburg sport their fashionable and functional new face masks designed by Gresham Smith’s Sivilay Xayasaene using Atrium Health guidelines.



Scarving out a Niche

Toward the end of March, Gresham Smith’s Tanya Buba began making cloth face coverings for medical personnel, including her cousin who is a nurse on a COVID-19 wing at a local hospital, and her daughter who is a vet tech at an emergency vet hospital. Tanya’s production scope expanded considerably when our client experience specialist Joan Hamrick turned to Tanya asking if she could transform Gresham Smith bandana scarves into face masks for our employees in the field.

With 67 masks initially needed, Tanya flexed her creative and mathematical skills, cutting the bandanas so each scarf made six masks! As word got out, other employees began requesting Tanya’s homemade PPE, including non-traditional field staff who needed to meet face-mask requirements for on-site client meetings.



To date, Tanya has made more than 400 face masks during her evenings and weekends—85 of those for Gresham Smith employees. She has donated the remainder of the face coverings directly to healthcare workers on the front lines, as well as essential employees in post offices, Walmart, Publix and Kroger.



A Wunderful Cause

As a result of being “safer at home,” Kristen Beecken, an interior designer with our Tampa Aviation group, began volunteering at WunderFarms—a collection of community-supported and organically grown gardens in St. Petersburg, Florida, that harvest vegetables and donate them to local charities that help families in need. Her chores have varied depending on the community’s needs, and have even extended to the harvesting of winter greens—more than 130 pounds of kale and collard greens to be exact! The healthy mix was delivered to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg.



We’re in It for the Long Haul

Ultimately, it’s in our DNA to give back to the community. Over the decades, we’ve devoted our resources, hearts and time to numerous philanthropic organizations, supporting charitable agencies such as United Way, Habitat for Humanity, Boys & Girls Club of America, and March of Dimes to name a few. And although these uncertain times come with considerable constraints, we remain as committed as ever to engaging with our local communities, finding innovative ways to stay connected, and believing that if we stand strong together, we can one day—hopefully soon—overcome COVID-19.