CFD SempriusGenerally, when an architecture firm seeks recognition in its local community, it turns to applying for design awards and ceremonial accolades for their architectural achievements. However, MHAworks Architecture, in business for 25 years, 15 of them residing in the City of Durham, is known for their hard-working approach to design: researching and collaborating with the client and designing a space that meets their needs, fits their budget, and leaves them with a sense of satisfaction and good service. Nose-to-the-grindstone work and constant communication has led MHAworks to survive a deep recession and brought them out as a thriving, growing local firm. Further, MHAworks is committed to using green architecture to design buildings and spaces that help improve the health, productivity, and overall well-being of occupants and the communities in where they build.

So it makes sense that when MHAworks wants to bring something to the community, they would hit the ground running – creating, organizing, planning, volunteering and executing an event that brings focus to those in need in our Durham community, C.F.D. {Creative Food Drive}.

As a free event, Creative Food Drive is a local food drive competition / community festival that involves businesses and organizations raising 500 non-perishable food items. The day of, they are given 90 minutes to build a pre-designed sculpture with the food. These sculptures are then judged by a panel of key Durham representatives, this year’s including the City of Durham’s Mayor Bill Bell and Downtown Durham Inc.’s former President Bill Kalkhoff. The community also gets to throw their vote in the hat with the People’s Choice Award.

During and after the building and judging, there is live music, food trucks, local breweries and a kid’s zone featuring pumpkin painting and a bouncy castle. All of the food and proceeds are donated to Durham nonprofit Housing for New Hope and the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina. Through the last two years of CFD, over 21,000 pounds of food have been raised. Last year alone, the food they donated equated to providing one family of four with two meals a day for five years.

Another benefit of CFD is for the businesses and organizations involved. As a competing business, they get team building, face-to-face marketing with the community and good will. President of Semprius Joe Carr, third-time CFD competitor, commented, “As a company, we looked at the CFD not only as a way to do something very important in the community but also as a team building exercise. Everyone pitched in, and the whole experience was great. At the end of the program, we had employees looking to the next year and throwing out ideas to make the sculpture even better – and I am sure it will be.”

Through this event, MHAworks was been awarded the 2013 Governer’s Award for Volunteer Service in Durham County, nominated by Housing for New Hope’s Development Director, Melissa Hartzell. “MHAworks is not a company of event planners or marketers, but has used their skills and abilities to address a community need they observed in Durham. Their immense contributions demonstrate that they believe the effects of the event are greater than the sum of all the time and effort they volunteered, and that they are truly volunteering for the good of their community,” she stated in the nomination.

MHAworks’ efforts show they are an all-hands-on-deck community catalyst. Their work on Creative Food Drive is inspiring and invitational, stirring businesses to pump their creative juices, give back to those less fortunate and create a sense of camaraderie amongst their staff and community. MHAworks’ commitment to Durham imbeds them as a true Durham establishment, professionally, economically and socially.

In its third year, Creative Food Drive will be on Saturday, October 19, from 3-7 pm at the American Tobacco North Quad. Bring your friends, folding chairs, and a few cans from your cupboard to give back to your own community. We’ll see you there!


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