Every year since its inception in the latter half of the 19th Century, YWCA has served women and girls with health and wellness resources, youth activities, transitional housing services, affordable childcare and support to survivors of domestic violence.
It was only fitting, then, that when YWCA Central Massachusetts in Worcester deemed its Salem Square headquarters in need of renovation, the work was led by an all-female management team from Consigli. Renovation work on the 60-year-old building included M/E/P infrastructure replacements, accessibility upgrades, interior modernization work and exterior façade improvements.
Historic elements were restored with an objective of preserving original and distinctive building features. Also included were the construction of new classrooms and integration of STEM programming and portable resources.
In addition to the all-female team shepherding the project, the renovation was managed by Linda Cavaioli, executive director of YWCA Central Massachusetts, in her final year with the YWCA after serving the community for nearly 30 years.
“This project felt so different from others I have done in a good way,” says Project Executive Jody Staruk, with Consigli Construction. “Teams at Consigli are always very collaborative and this all-female team brought a strong level of empathy and sensitivity to the project.
“Overall, it required a new way of thinking when it came to confronting the building’s structural challenges, dealing with pandemic-related protocols and material delays and making sure that we didn’t exceed the budget. It’s natural for teams to lose morale when challenge after challenge arises, but this team never wavered. We all really respected the mission of the YWCA and were honored to support it in this way.”
The many moving parts involved in this project started with the challenges this particular YWCA facility confronted during the rehab, Cavaioli says.
Identifying as “an all-inclusive women’s advocacy and resource center,” the facility served as an emergency childcare solution in the middle of the worst pandemic in a century, and also housed a number of women on site. The female construction team provided an inspiring example for the girls, spotlighting the oft-underappreciated capabilities of women in a traditionally male-dominated field.
In signing the first community benefits agreement (CBA) with the City of Worcester, YWCA Central Massachusetts promised an all-women-led construction team, living wage jobs with benefits and the participation of union contractors, local women and people of color. The end result of the renovation work exceeded the agreement, resulting in a 50 percent participation by Worcester County residents, 30 percent participation by people of color and 9 percent participation by women.
Reporting the team creatively navigated the obstacles posed by the coronavirus, Staruk added that social distancing protocols, coupled with material delays, initially led the team to believe it would fall behind schedule. “But we kept re-sequencing the project, and worked closely with the team at the YWCA, which was committed to helping us make sure the project flowed seamlessly,” Staruk said. “Be re-sequencing and leveraging our relationships in the City of Worcester to provide alternate temporary housing for the women living in the YWCA facility, we were able to finish the project within two weeks of the original end date, as opposed to several months later.”
Staruk has reported she “would love” to undertake another construction project along these same lines. “The construction industry is definitely changing and becoming more diverse,” she says. “We have females spread across all departments at Consigli. It was inspiring to see how much support we received from our leadership team when putting this team together. One of my passions is teaching young girls about career opportunities in the construction field. So it was great that the children coming to the YWCA facility each day were able to see women in these lead roles.”