When Sherri Nielsen took Rick Tollakson on a tour of the dilapidated 1960s-era cabins at Easter Seals Iowa’s Camp Sunnyside, she was hoping he might be inspired to help fix the sinking foundations. But Tollakson, president and CEO of Hubbell Realty Co., turned around and promised much more.
“He looked at me and said ‘I’m not fixing these cabins. I’m going to knock them down and build new ones,’ ” says Nielsen, president and CEO of Easter Seals Iowa.
That conversation led to “Cabins for Campers 24/7,” a weeklong event during which Hubbell Realty and its partners worked around the clock to build two 7,500-plus-square-foot accessible structures, complete with showers, laundry facilities and storm shelters. The $2.4 million project will transform the organization’s year-round “respite weekend” program, and the buzz generated by such a large-scale project raises awareness of Easter Seals among families who have children with special needs who could benefit from the organization’s services.
The undertaking also had a positive impact on the Hubbell team. “One of the greatest team-building exercises that a company can go through is to do something like this,” says Steve Niebuhr, senior vice president of Hubbell Construction and an Easter Seals Iowa board member. “It takes the routine part of your job of managing construction, and it gives you a new perspective and energizes you. It’s rejuvenating, trying to apply those skills to a unique project that will benefit the campers.”