There are major companies that refuse to go that route, preferring to strike the right balance between profit and bettering the community. Chicago’s Ozinga Concrete is one such company.
On the 64th day of his 100-day rooftop vigil to raise money for a transformative community center on the South Side of Chicago, Pastor Corey Brooks brought up Paul Ozinga for a chat by the campfire. Ozinga is the fourth generation to run this company.
“If you’ve seen any building here in Chicago, this company has probably laid the concrete or given the concrete or sold the concrete to make it happen,” the pastor said. “Why is it important that companies like yours get involved in the city of Chicago to help as it relates to the violence?”
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“Throughout all four generations, our mission as a family has been to honor and glorify God and serve the crown of his creation and our fellow man. We’re first guided by that direction,” Ozinga revealed. “When we look through the lens of how we’re operating our business, we’re saying, ‘Is it honoring and glorifying to God and are we serving the communities that we’re in?’”
Ozinga added: “We’ve been blessed to be able to run this business and we’re called to steward it for the time that we have it. And being in the communities that we’re in, it is imperative that the community gives so much that we’re required to give back to the community. Each and every individual has unique gifts and talents.”
“Right,” the pastor said, deeply appreciative of Ozinga seeing the positives in his much maligned community.
“And it’s important that we’re all able to use those gifts and talents,” Ozinga continued. “And it’s also important that people have purpose. And so we want to be able to create jobs, we want to be able to give purpose and we want to be able to give back to the community for the betterment of everybody. And by community, I say everybody has a responsibility to look after their community that they’re in.”
“Absolutely,” the pastor said.
“Business, making money, all those things, they’re all required to be sustainable and continue to operate,” Ozinga said. “But the most important thing is to be intentional about being active in the community and being able to give back with our first fruits, what we earn.”
“I know we’ve been so blessed to have you, your company in our life for a long time,” the pastor said. “When we first started putting our church together, you guys gave us concrete for that. When I was on the roof, the first time, your company donated the $ 100,000 to tear the building down. And we’re grateful for that.”
The pastor continued: “And now we’re in this endeavor where we’re trying to build…this community center to help transform the lives of a lot of people, and you’re donating concrete for that. Why is that?”
“You’ve recognized something in your community and you’re bringing awareness around it. And so we see the same thing going on in the community,” Ozinga answered. “We ask ourselves, how can we participate when you say, ‘There’s a need that we have in our community”…As we look through that lens, Project H.O.O.D. is an opportunity for the betterment of all of us and our community, to be able to improve and help the youth within the community.”
The pastor thanked him for that, as well as for hiring individuals from his church. He then asked Ozinga what challenge he would give to other companies in Chicago and beyond to help organizations similar to Project H.O.O.D.
“You may have heard the saying, ‘It’s more blessed to give than to receive,’” Ozinga said. “I look at it from a Godly perspective that we’ve been blessed in this way. It’s all his and we need to be giving back to what he’s provided for us…And if you needed help, you would hope that there would be somebody that would step up and provide that help. And here in this community, we need help.”
“I want to say thank you and thanks to all your brothers and Ozinga Concrete, for being a blessing to us and that’s what it’s all about,” the pastor said. “People coming to the aid of one another to assist us to make the world a better place. And when we do that, we can all make America a better place.”