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“We’re doing our best to keep everybody safe.”
— Billy Wright
The work of Central City Concern’s Community Maintenance Team never stops
They’re the people you call if there’s a leak, a flood, a lost key. They renovate residential units, paint and patch walls. On a recent workday, team members corralled a raccoon stuck in the courtyard at the Martha Washington Building.
“It’s something different every day,” said team manager Billy Wright.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the 13-person maintenance team has had to get creative to keep up with CCC’s evolving needs and safety regulations. But that’s nothing new. The team regularly works in nearly 30 buildings — some of them more than 100 years old. Each building has quirks, so one size never fits all. Responding to unexpected situations has always been part of the job.
Jeff Bondurant has been part of the maintenance crew for more than 35 years.”When I first started, I would learn something new every day – now nothing surprises me,” Jeff said.
Back in 1984, when Jeff started at CCC, there were just 5 or so buildings to take care of. He didn’t have formal training then, but he sure had the inclination.
“I was always mechanical,” he said, recalling hours spent taking apart and reassembling lawn mowers and rototillers at a childhood friend’s father’s repair shop.
Over the years, Jeff’s skills grew as CCC expanded. Today, he is a master locksmith who designs key systems, builds locks, cuts keys and more. It’s a crucial role for such a complex organization.
“Jeff knows more about these buildings than anyone else,” said Billy.
But even Jeff was surprised by the COVID-19 pandemic. These days, he and his co-workers wear N-95 masks and ask about illness before they enter an apartment. The work looks different too, although it certainly hasn’t slowed down.
New maintenance projects include installing plexiglass barriers in most of CCC’s buildings, to reduce viral transmission risk when people can’t maintain a 6-foot distance. CCC is still serving clients, patients and residents, so it’s important to be able to do that as safely as possible.
And in the coming weeks, the team will add another job to their portfolio — installing “telebooths” in CCC’s residential buildings. The booths will allow residents to have private conversations with care providers over the phone or via video chat, an increasingly important need as the pandemic continues.
“When the pandemic first hit, we were going haywire with all the changes,” said Billy. The team has worked diligently since then to modify their approach to this new reality. Now, Jeff, Billy and the rest of the maintenance team have found their rhythm. “We’re here to help,” Billy said.