During this year’s Black History Month, the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters is highlighting notable African American carpenters who stand out among their fellow Union Brothers and Sisters through volunteering and making a difference within their local communities.
Rodney is one of the five African American carpenters from NRCC who will receive the NRCC “Spirit of Service” award for his community service and volunteer efforts. The award will be presented to him at a ceremony on February 24th at the Trenton Masonic Temple.
Rodney Crowder, a Philadelphia-resident and carpenter for the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters’ (NRCC) Local 164, is a shining example of a Union carpenter that goes above and beyond to give back to those in need.
As a youth, Rodney was ‘always good with his hands, constantly helping his parents fix things around the house. Rodney said that he knew early on in his life that carpentry was what he was born to do. After finishing trade school, Rodney did home remodeling work for a non-union company and soon found his way to becoming a Union Carpenter.
Since becoming a Union Carpenter in 1989, Rodney has taken a large role in his Philadelphia community where he serves as a role model to at-risk kids through ‘First Builders.’
Crowder is a founding member of the ‘First Builders,’ an organization dedicated to giving back to children and citizens in Philadelphia. The First Builders works closely with local elected officials to coordinate the pro-bono construction of buildings. The organization has helped to construct a number of buildings in Philadelphia, such as: orphanages; spaces that give children a place to do their homework; computer labs; and community centers.
“I’m blessed to be a ‘blesser’,” said the 29-year member. “I always strive to put my best foot forward and help those who are less fortunate, it’s my philosophy that if you have the ability to help others, it’s your obligation to do what you can to help, even if it at first it’s in small doses.”
“We strive to get people off the corner, whether they’ve dropped out of college or are just running with the wrong crowd, we want to give people a second chance. We work with the local government to identify the immediate need for infrastructure to help better the lives of people within the community. We don’t hesitate to help construct places that can serve as ‘everyday sanctuaries’ for people that are struggling and just need to get away every once and a while.”
In his spare time, Rodney also caters to the elderly at several of his community's assisted living facilities, providing them assistance with food and sometimes reading scriptures from the Bible to them.
“Sometimes they just need someone to talk to. A lot of people don’t realize that people in these places are going through a lot of problems that most people don’t know about. I like to visit on holidays like Mother’s Day and Christmas so they know they have not been forgotten.”