by Ed Choklek
Former Executive Director of the Construction Forum Education Foundation
Best wishes for a healthy prosperous and safe New Year! When I decided to express my interest to Tom Finan and Joe Blanner in October of 2015 to serve as the first Executive Director of the CFEF, we had no idea where this new organization would be at the end of 2016. The Construction Forum Education Foundation has engaged with thousands of children, young adults and parents during our first twelve months to promote careers in the construction industry. We attended multiple STEM Outreach Events; several high school and middle school Career Days/Fairs; nine Back-to-School Programs and six St. Louis County Library Construction Career Presentations with the support of nearly ninety (90) volunteers. The CFEF “First STEP” Campaign, focused on youth literacy, raised $5,500 to purchase over 800 books that will be enjoyed by pre-school children while introducing them to the construction industry.
When you are a new, one-person, nonprofit organization, the best that you hope to achieve is to be that first ripple in a pond that encourages others to jump in and create more ripples. I want to pass along some special Thank You’s to certain groups and individuals that have laid the foundation for future CFEF success.
Our Back-to-School Programs were hugely successful due to support by the STL-KC Carpenters Regional Council and by staff from North and South Technical High Schools. NAWIC St. Louis Chapter provided ten construction industry workers that spoke at the six St. Louis County Library Presentations.
The Construction Forum St. Louis Young Leaders Group provided numerous volunteers throughout the year to many of our outreach activities. Steve Faust of icon Mechanical and Dr. Dave Baker of the Special School District led the CFEF STEM Committee and Workforce Development Committee, respectively.
Tom Finan and Joe Blanner served as my mentors as I started my third career – managing a nonprofit.
I will be relocating to the West in a few months, so I decided to step down from the CFEF and focus on my move. I have met many kind and generous individuals throughout 2016. I ask you to continue to support the Construction Forum Education Foundation in 2017 with your time and “treasures” so that we can repeatedly reach out (create more ripples) to children and young adults while promoting STEM construction careers. If you are a reader, my personal recommendation is The Choice by Og Mandino.