Steve Kelly is the manager of Dryforce, a Mesa company that helps other businesses and facilities rebuild after being ravaged by fire and water damage.
But, Steve Tepper, the executive director of the East Valley Jewish Community Center at 908 N. Alma School Road in Chandler, said he calls Kelly and his crew of workers “savior.”
Kelly, along with Dryforce, the help of the Chandler police and fire departments and the city’s police union, have all pitched in to help the 42-year-old Jewish community center — an outlet that serves more than 300 locally — to rebuild after suffering thousands of dollars in water damage to nearly 50 percent of its building.
The damage came when components of a freshwater fish tank in a preschool classroom somehow malfunctioned near midnight Dec. 24. A fire started, causing the sprinkler system to come on and ultimately damage eight classrooms, seven offices, the center’s kitchen and its multi-purpose room.
Dryforce led the way of helping out by providing a $10,000 cash donation to the center and Kelly has tirelessly worked to repair the damage at the center.
Crews from the Chandler Fire Department came riding in on a fire truck with toys and police officers and its union members also donated toys to replace the ones that were destroyed in the classrooms.
“They’ve been nothing short of amazing,” Tepper said of both Dryforce and the city’s public safety division helping out during the time of trouble. “It’s nice to see the community come together to help make sure the center stays up and running. Steve’s commitment to keep our facility running is as strong or stronger than our staff.”
The center was closed the first few days after the incident, but four of its classrooms have re-opened and the center’s officials hope to have it fully operational within the next few weeks — that’s once they replace the walls and insulation, which was being done practically non-stop for a time. In fact, two shifts consisting of about 30 workers worked 24 hours for five days, from Dec. 26 to Dec. 31, Kelly said.
Kelly spent much of his time preparing a for a crew from Dryforce to continue replacing some of the insulation in the walls as everything that comes in contact with the water from the sprinkler system is considered contaminated and needs to be removed, he said.
Kelly said that Dryforce officials knew the center was going to take a financial hit as it was temporarily not going to be able to host some of its programs that serve members of its community ranging from children to seniors.
“The damage was pretty extensive, and we have to remove everything the water has touched,” Kelly said. “We knew the center was going to be facing a huge expense from the damage and loss of revenue from not being able to host some of its programs.
“We try to help out in the community as much as we can,” Kelly added. “Our donation and work is for a great cause, and we’re hoping that other members of the community see how important the center is and will help out as well.”
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