When the military recalled a Chapman/Construction Design employee to serve in Afghanistan, his colleagues got together, painted his home, and installed siding and trim. When he was sent to Iraq, some of the guys put up a lighted flagpole in his yard, something he’d always wanted. That’s just how the Newton-based firm operates, says Senior Vice President John Ferreira, AET ’79, AE ’81. And it doesn’t just look after its own: Chapman regularly donates work to community nonprofits and recently began funding a pair of scholarships at Wentworth. (A third of the firm’s 60 or so employees are alums.) Built into the DNA of the company, Ferreira says, is “a sense of giving back.”
In his personal life, Ferreira works to export that same spirit— and his professional experience—to other places in need. “I call myself a Christian,” he says, “and I try to live that way.” In 2010, he and other missionaries from Nazarene Compassionate Ministries made the journey to Zwedru, Liberia—“twenty-four hours on planes, then fourteen hours in a car into the jungle”—to help build a community center. Last year, they spent a week in Haiti rebuilding a school damaged by the 2010 earthquake. There, Ferreira used his expertise to build desks, pour concrete floors, and lay block walls.
Asked if those projects taught him any lessons about his day job, Ferreira says that it wasn’t so much the building methods that stayed with him—it was the fresh perspective. In Liberia one day, he watched a man 25 feet down in the ground digging a well by hand. It was a reminder that “where there’s a will, there’s a way,” Ferreira says. “I’ve tried to take that to work.” —FRANCIS STORRS