Imagine a situation where you would have to choose between paying your utility bill or feeding your family. This is an unfortunate reality for 1 in 5 people in Weld County, Colorado. During the pandemic, that number shot up to 1 in 3 people who were hungry. Non-profit organizations like Weld Food Bank continued doing their best during these increasingly challenging couple of years to serve low-income families, and Highmark was honored to help them overcome some of the obstacles they faced.
During COVID-related shutdowns, Weld Food Bank patrons could no longer come inside their main building to get the food they desperately needed to feed their families. The Weld Food Bank was quick to take action and rented a temporary office trailer that served as a “drive thru” for families to get what they needed. While the drive thru was a fantastic idea, the volume of traffic was high, and the communication mechanism was low-tech, which quickly caused issues.
A low-tech walkie talkie that was rigged and mounted just outside a partially-opened window served as their only – one-way – communication tool. The families could speak to the food bank employees, but not vice-versa, meaning that questions couldn’t be asked and answered and a lot of guessing was done regarding the family’s needs. Needless to say, accuracy of the orders was spotty at best, making it frustrating for everyone involved.
Erika Westfall, the food bank’s IT manager, reached out to Highmark Communications in an effort to find a solution that would improve their communication setup. The solution to the problem didn’t come without challenges, however. Highmark initially proposed a couple of traditional speaker setups, as they would for any other drive thru restaurant they service. One solution was a speaker post and the other was mounting of speaker boxes onto their newly constructed, temporary building.
“Unfortunately, these first ideas weren’t going to work for them,” said Paul Gillings, VP for Highmark. “Penetrating the exterior of their temporary office trailer with holes for speaker box wires would have meant a significant financial penalty to the food bank, so another approach needed to be considered.”
Highmark went to work and got creative. They came up with another way to seamlessly mount HME speaker boxes to the outside of the window frames of the trailer, creating a dual-lane drive thru. They worked with a local fabricator, Haskins Welding and Ironworks, to create the metal boxes to house the speakers that were attached to the window frames. The clarity of the speakers, and having two-way communications enabled patrons to get exactly the food they needed – and fast.
“This project illustrated that one size does not fit all, and we were honored to be able to help Weld Food Bank during this challenging time,” said Highmark CEO, Alex Vorobieff. “We’re so happy to have found a solution that worked for their specific needs.”
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