Michael Brodsky clocks in at 7 a.m. sharp, five days a week at the Denver Central Library, to begin his eight-hour shift as an on-call employee. Installing LED lights is his task for the next few months, an assignment for which he says is “grateful,” a word he uses frequently.
“I look forward to coming to work,” Brodsky says, adding with a grin, “In fact, I kind of miss it when I’m not here.”
Brodsky began as a participant in the Denver Day Works Program, a pilot project to put people experiencing homelessness back to work at agencies that need labor. The project is a collaboration between Denver’s Road Home, Denver Public Works, Denver Parks & Recreation and Denver Human Services. Bayaud Enterprises serves as the contractor to provide assessment, placement and management of the program.
Brodsky, who worked for 15 years as a software engineer, says he struggled in the past with personal problems that “spiraled out of control.” The self-described “nerd” and fan of libraries explains that he was fortunate enough to connect with the right people, adding, “Now, here I am today.”
After reviewing their resumes, interviewing them and doing background checks, the library hired Brodsky, Scott McIntosh and Rick Singer as on-call staff to work on the six-month project replacing much of the lighting in the 22-year old facility. The LED lights will be longer-lasting, brighter and more energy-efficient.
The idea to replace the current lighting with LED lights was the brainchild of Denver Public Library staff member Kevin Gallegos. The facilities maintenance technician came up with the plan more than a year ago after participating in a class to earn a Green Belt, a training to learn about Lean Process Improvement. The program lets library staff propose projects that reduce waste and improve processes--all of which save taxpayer money.
“I gave it a lot of thought,” Gallegos says, “and realized this plan would save money, energy and time.”
Library finance director Ron Miller created a project and presented it to city officials who enthusiastically agreed to fund the project. The crew will replace 24,000 four-foot fluorescent tubes throughout the seven-story building and 6,000 compact fluorescent lamps in recessed cans. The cost of the lights will be covered by the City Utilities Office, Miller explains, but the library needed to provide labor.
“Doing this makes financial sense for the library,” Miller says. “The project will pay for itself in less than one year, and between parts, labor and energy costs, will save the city over $500,000 per year.”
The crew works side-by-side with the library maintenance team, with hands-on training, direction and supervision from Gallegos. “The guys are doing great,” Gallegos says with the smile of a proud dad. “Hey, any of us could be a couple of paychecks away from where they have been. After six months here, they could go anywhere and get a job as a maintenance guy.”
“I think it’s wonderful,” library youth services manager Cori Jackamore says. “The workers who were in our area were very conscientious about safety. And, the new lighting in the Children’s Department is amazing.”
Brodsky says it’s a good feeling to accomplish a task that people appreciate, and he enjoys being at the library, where staff are “super friendly.” He describes how he felt his first day when he was given a gray T-shirt with the Denver Public Library logo. “That was awesome,” he says, beaming. “I see opportunity down the road. I’m just so grateful.”
This made me well up. I'm glad the partnership is going so well!
I love the new bright lobbies we have here now. BIG BIG Improvement. I was actually surprised at the estimated savings over a year.
Glad, really glad to hear of the new light hangars. Things here at the library are looking great. Very positive changes too. I'm proud of my community and how it looks.
Great to see the library and city helping the people get back on their feet. Even better it is going to be economically and environmentally positive.
Kevin, this is so great. Thank you for the vision, as well as the supervision. So pleased they work with you! I l♥️ve the library!!!
What a fabulous undertaking! The anticipated cost savings is great for the city and the library and the community benefits as well with the Denver Day Works partnership. Kudos all around!