Union Carpenters Local 277 "Buddy Up" With Elementary Kids

Volunteer Carpenters Build Buddy Benches as an Emotional "Safe Haven" on School Playgrounds

— When Kate McKan asked Dawn Hurt for assistance on a volunteer project, she explained the need for skilled help to build “buddy benches” at several area schools. McKan, the founder of The Mason P. McKan Benevolence Fund Inc., wanted to honor her son, Mason Pierre McKan, who died at six months old.

McKan told Hurt, an administrative assistant with Carpenters Local 277 that she had been looking for a year to find crafts workers who could assemble the benches. Hurt went directly to her boss, Scott Colton, and said, “We’ve got to do this.”

Buddy Benches is a nationwide volunteer effort, started by a first-grader that provides for a bench on playgrounds. “A Buddy Bench is a designated ‘safe place’ for students to sit at when they feel lonely or are simply looking for a friend to play with,” McKan said.  “There were eight  benches created to be placed among each of the elementary schools within the Binghamton, City School District.” The hope is that if a child sees another student sitting on the bench, it would be a signal to them to engage with that student and extend an invitation to play.

We are so grateful to the amazing and generous craftsmen at the Carpenters Union Local 277 for supporting this project with their energy, their time, and their talents. They helped with the design and creation of all eight benches. We are forever thankful to them for taking an interest in this wonderful initiative.

Kate McKan, Founder of The Mason P. McKan Benevolence Fund Inc.,

Colton, president and council representative of Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters Local 277, said yes immediately. “We’re always ready to help a worthy cause, especially when there’s a local connection to our community,” he said.

Colton agreed to form a team of about 20 volunteers and help construct the benches. The union carpenters pre-cut the pieces for eight benches during the workweek and assembled them on a Saturday. They will donate one bench to each of elementary schools in the Binghamton area.

“We are so grateful to the amazing and generous craftsmen at the Carpenters Union Local 277 for supporting this project with their energy, their time, and their talents,” said McKan. “They helped with the design and creation of all eight benches. We are forever thankful to them for taking an interest in this wonderful initiative.”

Colton’s local, like others in the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters (www.northeastcarpenters.org), has a person assigned to assess volunteer efforts and requests. Some requests generate internally when a carpenter becomes aware of someone who would benefit from the carpenters’ skill set. Other times, they will receive a request for assistance.

About the NRCC


The Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters (NRCC) represents nearly 40,000 hard-working men and women in Delaware and New Jersey and portions of Maryland, New York, and Pennsylvania. NRCC is one of the largest trade unions on the East Coast. The NRCC equips professional men and women carpenters with the skills, training and quality workmanship that are demanded in today's construction industry. For more information on NRCC, please visit our website: www.northeastcarpenters.org; Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NortheastRegionalCouncilofCarpenters; or Twitter: https://twitter.com/nrccarpenters

Source: Carpenter Contractor Trust