Dressed in hardhats, safety goggles and reflective vests, 15 Akron Children’s staff members arrived at the construction crew lunchroom recently carrying white bakery boxes full of cookies and cupcakes. Crew members applauded and cheered their generous gesture, before descending upon the sugary contents of the boxes.
While the first appearance of the Bakers for Builders group was a surprise, now the workers have come to expect these monthly visitors, who made their first delivery in April. The group was formed to thank the construction crew and local unions, who have embraced Akron Children’s culture while working on the hospital’s new medical tower.
Akron Children’s administrative assistant Kelly Ott stepped in to help organize the effort with a call out to employees.
“The response was overwhelming and immediate,” she said. “My inbox was flooded by staff members who wanted to bake for the construction crew. Now, we have volunteers scheduled through November, with a waiting list.”
Every month new volunteers make 3 to 4 dozen treats of their choice, including some who bake nut-free and gluten-free versions so no one on the crew is left out.
“There are 350 guys on the site, with another 40 to 50 in the construction office,” said Hasenstab architect Marge Zezulewicz. “The Welty-Boldt owners and project managers get the praise, but the local union guys on the site are the ones making it all happen. We wanted to show our appreciation and keep them motivated.”
As an added reward, after the volunteers deliver their goodies in the lunchroom, which is located on the construction site, Marge gives them a tour of the new emergency department, the most complete section of the new building.
“I stress the contribution of the people who participated in the warehouse teams and educate the bakers about the building,” Marge said. “When they go back to work, they are excited and talk to their peers about how wonderful the new building will be.”
And as the bakers tour the site, happy construction workers shout out their thanks and make “Cookie Monster” noises, to the delight of the volunteers.