Balfour Beatty Demonstrates Commitment to Education by Giving Back


It’s incredible what can happen when individuals and organizations unite under a common purpose, as the team from Balfour Beatty has demonstrated this time and again in their support and sponsorship of Sharefest projects.

Driven by their desire to make an impact in local communities, Balfour Beatty once again hosted the annual Golf Tournament this spring to raise funds in support of projects for the 2017 Sharefest Workday, as well as student scholarships. This year, more than 140 individuals attended the tournament and helped raise $135,770 to sponsor seven Workday sites, send over 230 low-income students to camp and provide five college scholarships to local deserving students.

In addition, the Balfour Beatty team mobilized volunteers to serve at the sites they sponsored during Workday. Their staff is passionate about helping improve schools to give youth quality, beautiful campuses in which to learn.

“I think it’s extremely important that our employees have a culture of giving back and supporting communities that support us,” said John Bernardy, Senior Vice President at Balfour Beatty.

Toward this effort, more than 40 Balfour Beatty employees volunteered their time on May 6 to help with projects at Beryl Heights Elementary School, Juan de Anza Elementary School, Tulita Elementary School, Adams Middle School, Magruder Middle School, Culver City High School, and Redondo Union High School. Working alongside the schools and other Sharefest volunteers, they helped provide construction, painting, landscaping, cleaning, and more. The combined efforts provided more than $80,000 in improvements across these seven schools.

“We do so much within the community within our regular job that we do with the contractors, but Sharefest is about so much more than that,” said Ray Purcell, Senior Superintendent at Balfour Beatty. “[It’s about] everybody there, hand in hand, side by side, just doing construction work together and doing things that we can build great relationships that will last a lifetime.”

Beyond Workday, Balfour Beatty extends their commitment to education by using the remaining money raised at the Golf Tournament to support students attending Sharefest’s Summer Youth Development Academy for middle and high school youth. Additionally, they gave a total $5,000 in scholarships for local graduating seniors who demonstrate strong academic performance, service to the community, leadership, teamwork, responsibility, and integrity. Their hope is that these students will go on to college and become leaders who will bring positive impact to their own communities. This year’s scholarship recipients included Jason Zeidman from Culver City Unified School District, Stephen Gee from Torrance Unified School District, Celine Casillas and Malek Jesri from Wiseburn School District, and Matt Mercier (attending UC Berkeley) from Redondo Beach Unified School District.

“We are so proud of these students and the impact they are already having on their communities, and are incredibly grateful to the team at Balfour Beatty for encouraging and supporting their dreams of attending college,” said Chad Mayer. “Balfour Beatty has once again surpassed expectations in their efforts to give back to our schools. Their generosity, from Golf Tournament to the volunteers who served on Workday to helping send kids to our summer camp to these student scholarships, helps transform lives," said Chad Mayer, Sharefest Executive Director.

Since 2010, Balfour Beatty has:

  • Raised $568,000 for Sharefest community projects
  • Mobilized 1,023 volunteers to give back
  • Provided $913,360 worth of work for schools
  • Given $24,000 in student scholarships

Thank you, Balfour Beatty!


View photos from the 2017 Balfour Beatty/Sharefest Golf Tournament and 2017 Workday Projects.



Watch the recap video of the 2017 Balfour Beatty/Sharefest Golf Tournament:





Organizations and Youth Join to Refurbish Wilmington Middle School STEAM Magnet


A library renovation. New, colorful, inspiring murals. Improved outdoor seating. These are just a few of the projects that took place during the 2017 Workday at Wilmington Middle School STEAM Magnet thanks to Sharefest sponsor Phillips 66 and an incredible group of volunteers.

A longtime partner with Sharefest, Phillips 66 understands the value of engaging with and giving back to the community in which they work. This generous organization not only provided funds to support this project and others, but also brought a group of energetic employees to volunteer their skills and expertise to help see these projects to fruition during Workday on May 6.

“Sharefest and Phillips 66 work well together because our values align of safety, honor, and commitment, and we work together and collaborate within the community to make a difference,” shared Janet Grothe, public affairs manager for Phillips 66 Los Angeles Refinery.

Two additional groups were key players in this site. Harbor Christian Center helped with advanced preparation of the site, making sure everything was ready to go for a successful day. And a dedicated group of 45 volunteers from the center joined in on Workday to complete the projects.

Sharefest’s Youth Leadership Council (YLC) was also instrumental in the success of the project. As a service learning project, the YLC students took ownership of planning, preparing, and executing the renovation of the main library, which had not been updated since the 1970s. Upgrades included deep cleaning, painting, new furniture, and installation of a new stage for open mic nights. To make all this possible, the students began plans five months ahead of time, and their hard work and intentional planning paid off to create a beautiful place for Wilmington students to study and connect.

To complete the upgrades at the campus, two STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) bungalows were deep cleaned, painted, and prepared for the installation of new furniture; five STEAM-themed murals were installed, highlighting the important contributions of Latino scientists; and a large planter with built-in benches was added to the courtyard to provide shading and seating for outdoor classroom use. Together, these updates create fresh spaces to support students as they learn.

As one participant said, “No gender, no age, no color lines…just everyone working for one common goal.” Sharefest is proud to partner with Phillips 66 and the community to bring such a beautiful expression of community care to Wilmington Middle School.





Improving Communities and Fostering Relationships: Workday 2017


In the early morning hours of May 6, individuals of all ages and backgrounds began arriving at sites in cities across the South Bay and L.A. Harbor areas, ready to don gloves, grab shovels and paintbrushes, and get their hands dirty as part of Sharefest’s 14th annual Workday.

On this day, more than 3,000 volunteers united across 44 sites with a shared purpose: to gather in community and give of their time and talents to help improve schools, community centers, parks, and more. The day allowed groups and families to adopt and participate in projects like the GRoW Community Garden at the Watts Century Latino Organization, the San Pedro Gateway Triangle landscaping update, Paseo Del Mar Guardrail improvements, and L.A. County Department of Child and Family Services employee lounge remodel, as well as much needed campus upgrades at 32 local elementary, middle, and high schools.

“[The best part about my Workday experience was] seeing the community and our school’s families come together for an important purpose. Working side by side allows us to get to know each other and have fun,” shared Kris Lauritson, Garden Educator at Lawndale Elementary School District.

Each project is completed at no cost to the recipients, thanks to sponsorships from numerous organizations who step up to support these community improvements. This year’s sponsors included Balfour Beatty Construction, The Harbor Community Benefit Foundation, Phillips 66, Council District 15, and many others. From providing funds or materials for projects, to bringing volunteers to serve, these sponsors made a significant impact.

Youth involvement is also a key part of the day, and an important aspect of Sharefest’s mission. “These youth are our future, and we want to encourage and empower them to get involved and become more invested in their communities,” said Chad Mayer, Sharefest Executive Director. “When they take ownership of these projects, they develop a deeper sense of pride for the places they live, and they want to see them thrive.”

As part of this effort, students from Sharefest’s Youth Development Academy and Youth Leadership Council participated in several projects during the day. Service learning is a core component of these programs that focus on developing leadership skills and civic mindedness. “We hope [the work completed during the Workday] will inspire other communities. To show that we care about our community also teaches us to be more appreciative about things around our community,” said Elmer, a student from Avalon Continuation High School.

Over the course of the day, an estimated $798,544 in improvements took place across all sites. Even more important, volunteers, businesses, and project recipients forged new relationships as they worked side by side to beautify and positively impact our communities.

Get a glimpse of this year’s Workday accomplishments! View photos and the 2017 Workday video.





Community Hero Surprised with Home Makeover


Wilmington resident Salvador Lara sat stunned on August 25 as he was surprised with the announcement that he and his wife would receive a complete home makeover, at no cost to them. He arrived earlier that morning to Sharefest’s office excited to hear a presentation about an upcoming community project led by Sharefest and Wedgewood, and had no idea the project was meant for him.

In April, Wedgewood joined in Sharefest’s annual Workday, and the success of that project led them to partner with Sharefest once again to give back by recognizing a community member in need of a home renovation. Salvador Lara quickly came to mind, a man known for his longtime involvement in the community, and for going above and beyond in service to the city of Wilmington.

“Everyone who knows Salvador knows what a gift he and his wife, Maria, have been to his community,” said Chad Mayer, Sharefest Executive Director. “His passion for his city is evident in all that he does, and in particular through the Clean Wilmington program he launched. Thanks to Wedgewood, we can now give back to this family that has given so much of their time and energy to making Wilmington a great place to live.”

Lara is a longtime Wilmington resident and spent 24 years as full-time employee of Brinderson, before recently losing his job, where he worked in gardening, landscaping, and maintaining yard and refinery equipment. In 2007, concerned about his community’s degraded condition, Lara initiated the Clean Wilmington program, which brought together hundreds of community volunteers to remove more than 100 tons of weeds and illegally-dumped items annually in the city. As project manager, Lara trains interns, and recruits, organizes, and supervises volunteers and activities, all on his own time.

“This project is near and dear to our hearts because it combines what we do best, rehabbing homes in need of repair, with lending a helping hand to our community,” said Greg Geiser, CEO and President of Wedgewood. “Salvador Lara is someone who has proven through his volunteer activities and community mobilization to have a bottomless service heart, giving so much of his time, talent, and organization to the city of Wilmington. There is not a more deserving person for this philanthropic effort.”

The renovation kicked off right away, and over the course of 12 days the Lara home received a complete makeover including new roof, flooring, wood framing, electrical wiring, air conditioning, a new kitchen and bathrooms, fresh paint, and landscaping. The team from Wedgewood did an incredible job keeping the project on track and providing the Lara’s with a beautiful new home. On the final day, before the reveal, 90 Wedgewood employees turned out to finalize landscaping and do clean up around the local neighborhood. California State Senator Isadore Hall and Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino joined in the reveal and ribbon cutting to recognize Salvador for his service. It was a community effort, with everyone uniting to honor a man who has given so much to his city. (See Joe Buscaino’s Facebook live video of the reveal.)

“I have known of Salvador and his incredible love and passion for Wilmington, his beloved community, since before my election to the City Council in 2012,” said Buscaino. “Throughout the years I have had the honor of knowing Salvador on a more personal level, allowing me to understand the drive behind the man. Salvador represents more than his family, more than his community—he represents the American dream we all strive to achieve. A native of Mexico, Salvador made this country his home, and pushes to make it a better place for all of us. From sending his two children to elite universities, to establishing and encouraging civic engagement in the City of L.A., Salvador is a hero in the hearts of many. I join thousands in celebrating this incredible gift and hope that we each walk away a better person after having crossed his path.”

View photos and watch a video of the project.


View Media Coverage





Emerging Student Leaders. Confident Youth. Inspired Communities.


These are just a few of the highlights of this year’s Summer Youth Development Academy, which wrapped up on August 5 as we said farewell to an amazing group of middle and high school students. Throughout the four weeks of Summer YDA, which took place at the beautiful campus of California State University, Dominguez Hills, 261 middle and high school students discovered the courage they need to return as an Everyday Hero to their community.

Middle school students applied themselves to tackling complex concepts in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) Lab. With new requirements for graduation, these YDA students will have a head start, entering high school with preliminary practice in physics. In Leadership, students analyzed the superhero’s journey to greatness and considered their own path to becoming someone who accepts the call and challenge of living to serve for the good of others. In teambuilding and swimming, students practiced active living while developing confidence, new skills, and being part of a group committed to everyone’s success.

In addition, students put their learning into action by giving back to the community, working hard to help improve the landscaping at the Old Wilmington Library. Middle school students from session two worked with Mars Food employees and Phillips 66 to bring garden boxes, mosaic planters, and a mural to the campus of Academies of Education and Empowerment in Carson. These service learning opportunities provided students with an experience to test their new-found knowledge of leadership and see firsthand the impact of helping others.

The high school students learned about community impact, gained important life knowledge such as financial literacy tips, and were encouraged to pursue their dreams thanks to special guest speakers who dropped by to pass on their wisdom. The students in turn inspired peers and staff with their heartfelt concern for communities. The 9th-graders created and produced a theater performance highlighting the impact of leaders positively raising their voice to address the apathy and animosity they experience. They demonstrated that courageous friendship and true concern can change our communities for the better. The 10th-12th-grade students built social media advocacy campaigns to highlight a community challenge. Their energy, collaboration, and passion for better communities is inspiring.

One high school student reflected, “I have been to a lot of camps and this one is about love. At other places, kids will get picked on if they don’t do something perfect; here I was immediately accepted and everyone is cheered on to keep trying.” Not all heroes wear capes, but the Everyday Heroes of Summer YDA know that the best way to be awesome is to always wear kindness, initiative, and integrity. Sharefest is proud to send these students out as ambassadors of hope, and hope to see many of them return to YDA next year!

View photos from the 2016 Sharefest Youth Development Academy


Middle School Session 1 Recap Video


Middle School Session 2 Recap Video


9th Grade Recap Video


10-12th Grade Recap Video