The Volunteer Manitoba Awards are this month and to celebrate we are profiling this year’s nominees for the Spark Outstanding Pro Bono Award and the incredible work they did with the local nonprofits we matched them with.
Today we are profiling the 2019 Spark Outstanding Pro Bono Award winner Dinis Prazeres.
A way to give back
Dinis became a Spark volunteer after listening to a presentation we made to his Leadership Winnipeg cohort back in 2013. He wanted to give back and thought that Spark was a great way to do just that.
We met with Dinis and discussed his work, most notably his background in construction and his role as President of JEDS Construction, and added him to our volunteer roster.
Fast forward a few years, Art Ladd, Executive Director of BUILD (Building Urban Industries for Local Development), a local social enterprise that creates training and employment opportunities for people with multiple barriers to employment, approached Spark with the request to assist the organization in better understanding and navigating the construction sector.
Dinis immediately came to mind.
For this request, we thought it best to structure it like a mentorship match- a year long match with casual monthly meetings that would allow them to tackle everything on Art’s “to-do” list. We reached out to Dinis and he was interested.
So, the pair met once a month for a year. Dinis answered “questions about how the industry worked, how best to connect with and engage other players, and many other things.” He also proved helpful as someone to “bounce ideas off of, and who could look at processes and tools [BUILD] had come up with from an industry insider’s perspective.”
“The importance of personal relationships in the business world”
The guidance Dinis provided was helpful but it was the development of personal relationships and connections that proved the most valuable. Art said that Dinis “reinforced the importance of personal relationships in the business world, and that sometimes it is the mid-sized businesses that are great partners: they are large enough to have good systems and processes, and hire a lot of people, but small enough that personal relationships matter.”
One of these mid-sized businesses, Transcona Roofing, is proving to be a great partner. Through Dinis, BUILD developed a connection with the company. Now, Transcona Roofing “subcontracts BUILD crews to work with them on some of their projects, doing everything from demolition, to roofing and now even framing work.” Moreover, Transcona Roofing has “gone on to hire 9 of BUILD’s trainees to work directly as part of their staff team”, a pattern Art believes will continue with the company hiring more BUILD trainees as openings become available.
Fulfilling BUILD’s mission
It’s important to stress that this connection, with direct channels to employment opportunities for BUILD trainees, has a considerable positive impact on BUILD, and directly fulfills the organization’s mission of empowering multi-barriered people by providing skills training and employment opportunities.
Art and Dinis’ mentorship match successfully addressed Art’s request for assistance with navigating the construction sector, as well as helping establish relationships and contracts with construction companies in the private sector, and explore new areas of expansion.
When asked at the end of the interview if Art had any other comments or suggestions he said that he “highly encourage other local social enterprises to pursue mentorship matches through Spark. Their process of assessing our needs, and then matching us up with the right person with the right skills, background and attitude worked really well.” While we aren’t trying to self -promote, okay maybe a little, we want to highlight the high impact mentorship matches, with fellow ED’s or an industry insider, can have on an Executive Director and their organization.
Congratulations to Dinis on receiving the Spark Outstanding Pro Bono Award for your work with BUILD!