RS&H architect Brandon Pourch knows how easy it is to take his design and architectural skills for granted. In a firm like RS&H, those talents are everywhere you look.
Outside these walls, those skills can be a little harder to come by, which is why Pourch volunteers his time and talents to help so many people and organizations in Jacksonville. From constructing decorations for events at the Jacksonville Museum of Contemporary Art to designing and helping construct a new community garden in the city’s Riverside-Avondale neighborhoods, Pourch’s fingerprints are all over the First Coast.
His efforts have been recognized by RS&H, which named Pourch the R. Ray Goode Community Volunteer of the Year. The award recognizes an RS&H associate who has made exceptional contributions to his or her community during the year. It was established in honor of Goode, who served on the Board of Directors for RS&H for seven years and was an inspirational business and community leader.
“Brandon does many wonderful things in our community and was the winner over several other outstanding community stewards,” said RS&H Senior Vice President Andy Wheeler. “Giving back to the communities we serve is paramount to our firm, and Brandon is a shining example of that value.”
The examples are plenty. As president of the Emerging Design Professionals, the young profressionals branch of AIA Jacksonville, Pourch has organized many events that focus on engaging the community as well as bringing together young architects with more senior and retired architects. Last summer, Pourch helped other RS&H associates design and construct decorations for a charity called Learn To Read, which changes adult lives through the gift of literacy.
On the weekends, Pourch helps with cleanups along McCoy’s Creek with the Rising Tides, the young professional group of the St. John’s Riverkeeper. In December, he was awarded the Rising Tides Volunteer of the Year. He has also volunteered with the Jacksonville Kids Mural Project, which gives children the opportunity to discover a passion for the arts and the self-esteem and confidence that art can inspire.
He is also heavily involved with Jacksonville’s Independent Living Resource Center (ILRC) family, which aims to empower people with disabilities to live independent, self-empowered lives. In October, he and a team of RS&H employees designed and built special Halloween costumes for children in the ILRC family, outfitting their wheelchairs.
“I really enjoy helping other people,” Pourch said. “It’s really special to get to use a few of the skills I’ve developed at RS&H to help so many great organizations and people here.”
The Riverside-Avondale community garden isn’t the only garden Pourch has his hands in. Recently, he volunteered his front yard in a new program called Fleet Farming – his yard is the first garden project for the group in Jacksonville. With the help of volunteers, Fleet Farming transforms unproductive, wasteful lawns into community-driven urban farm plots.
“The garden is already producing – the arugula is really good,” Pourch said. “It’s a great way to introduce more food into our community, which is a big need because we have a lot of food deserts in our community.”
Pourch will keep his focus on his community, always looking for ways to help better it. The Ray Goode award is just a byproduct of his efforts.
“It’s a great honor – it feels good to be recognized by your peers,” he said. “It keeps me motivated to keep going.”