Our Forward-Thinking Fund Winners

Crane Renovation Group launched the Forward-Thinking Fund with the goal to distribute six $1,000 grants to individuals who practiced forward-thinking in their own lives, as we do internally as a company. When we launched this initiative, we had a goal to see at least 50 applicants. We ended up with 59 forward-thinking individuals, all with inspiring backstories and thoughtful goals toward their future. 

Nikia Gales with Nick Long, Director of Continuous Improvement

Of our finalists, some common themes emerged: the construction industry and social work, both relevant to our company. Construction because it is what we do, social work because it relates to another one of our core values of giving back to the communities we serve.  Nikia Gales, a full time student at Columbus State Community College pursuing an Associates of Applied Science in Social Work and Human Services, returned to school as a single mother, so it was important to keep her student debt as low as possible. She chose this degree “to help create avenues, break down barriers, and advocate for individuals in need.

Nikia wasn’t the only single mother with plans for her future we were pleased to meet in this process. Jasmine Wooten, mother of two, still makes time for volunteer work in addition to pursuing her degree in social work at the Ohio State University. She helps the university develop creative ways to increase utilization of support services and resources; is treasurer of Students with Children, which aims to support students with children by connecting them with other parenting students and advocating for inclusive support on campus; and is resident council President of ACCESS Collaborative Columbus Scholar House, a support program that brings together education and housing services for at-risk student parents.

Jasmine Wooten with Jim Ziminski, President of Crane Renovation Group

Danielle Bell, another single mother, raised herself up with help from Dress for Success and is now advocating for the organization while pursuing a two-year Digital Design and Graphics Associate in Applied Science degree from Columbus State Community College. It was only recently that she began surrounding herself with people and resources that encourage forward-thinking, and taking the initiative in her personal and professional development.

“Planning for the future does not come natural for all people. For some, circumstances and upbringing put a halt to thinking past today, let alone months or years to come. I am grateful to have experienced a strong academic career that encouraged and prepared me to plan for the future. However, it wasn’t until later in life that I realized progressiveness was a challenge during my upbringing”

Danielle Bell with Alyssa DeGeorge, Creative Director and Core Values Ambassador

Clearly, another theme that emerged was hard work. Zoee Wilson is currently working two jobs while completing her degree in Construction Management from Middle Tennessee State University. As a woman in a traditionally male-dominated industry, Zoee is a trailblazer for other women who may have a passion for construction but are intimidated by the culture.

Zoee Wilson with Greg Lynch, Senior Vice President (L) and Larry Jenison, Regional Operations Manager (R)

“I have always had a deep fascination and passion for the construction industry. Some of my fondest childhood memories were when my parents would drive me around town to look at all the new construction jobsites that were in progress. There is something breath-taking about watching a project develop literally “from the ground up”. I love seeing how a building develops and all the parts put into making it. This financial assistance from the Forward Thinking fund will help me achieve both dreams.”

Miles McKenzie Satterfield

Another faction of the construction industry that needs innovating is how it affects our environment, and after getting out of the Navy, Miles McKenzie Satterfield developed an interest in just that. With his Forward-Thinking Fund money going toward getting certification in LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), Miles hopes to push the construction industry in this direction and work with contractors that “implement more green building techniques [that] will overwhelmingly find a positive response from the owner and community alike.”

And we didn’t leave out young people. Ju Cole Francine White, an eighth-grader at Graham Elementary and Middle School, plans to enter the Young Entrepreneurs Academy at the Ohio State University with the Forward-Thinking Fund grant money. Here she will learn how to build business plans, conduct market research, and speak to investors. There’s nothing more forward-thinking than when a young person, with their whole life ahead of them, already has big plans for their future, and we are pleased to help Ju in this endeavor. 

Ju Cole Francine White with Jim Ziminski, President of Crane Renovation Group

Thank you to the Crane Renovation Group Core Values Ambassadors who organized this effort, and to all the organizations that reached out to nominate individuals. We hope the Forward-Thinking Fund will  not only touch the lives of our finalists, but also that the finalists’ stories and passion for their future will inspire our employees and everyone else who hears it.


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