Employer pays workers to volunteer

DURHAM What looks like a regular landscaping crew is a group of volunteers.

The workers usually spend their days indoors working with metal.

"We take raw steel, we weld it, we cut it, we bend it," said Dennis Dozier, plant manager for American Building.

Dozier and his crew work in southern Virginia for a subsidiary of the steel giant, Nucor, which is based in NC.

"The economy's down so our workload is down," Dozier explained.

And that's why they are in the Bull City this week. They are improving the appearance outside the Durham Rescue Mission's thrift store. American Building allows the workers to donate their time to help others while collecting a paycheck.

"They have a no layoff practice," Dozier said. "When work gets low, we work projects around the shop, and we get caught up on them [and] we go out and do community service."

Keith Hatcher jumped at the chance to participate. "We're sorta trying to make it look a bit better, I guess," he said.

He said he is grateful to volunteer while keeping his job and getting paid.

"Everybody needs help once in a while," Hatcher said.

Those at the Rescue Mission say a little landscaping just may bring in more business.

"Hopefully that'll get us more customers and of course, all the net proceeds from the store go to serve the Rescue Mission," said Gail Mills, Durham Rescue Mission.

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