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The Joseph Groh Foundation | Grant Recipient | William McKay

March 5, 2024


William and Susan McKay with Their New Van

William's Career Journey

After graduating from high school, William attended Diablo Valley College, majoring in restaurant management. He then embarked on a culinary career, cooking for major private dinner parties in the Bay Area, catering to events with up to 2,500 guests. However, for the next 20 years, he pursued a different path, establishing his own commercial and residential construction business while working as a semi-truck trailer repairman as his day job. This shift may have been influenced by his father, who held a superintendent position at a prominent construction firm in San Francisco.

William's early career involved various roles in the construction industry, working as both an employee and a supervisor on large commercial properties, where he gained experience in all construction phases. He then transitioned to become the senior building maintenance supervisor for UC Davis student housing, followed by a position as purchasing manager and safety administrator for a metal products company.

Around 20 years ago, William joined a construction firm in Vacaville, California, working as a sales estimator and project manager. The company focused on building custom homes, additions, remodeling projects, and restorations. After this experience, he took on the role of director of maintenance for a luxury apartment/condo complex, overseeing a team of staff and collaborating with external contractors for maintenance and repairs.

A Life-Changing Accident and its Impact

Tragically, while working at the apartment complex, William fell from a 40-foot ladder while carrying roofing materials. The fall resulted in a twisted ankle and severe pain radiating from his spine. His doctor diagnosed him with spinal compression, affecting his piriformis muscle and sciatic nerve. The piriformis muscle, located in the lower back and extending to the top of the thigh, plays a crucial role in various lower body movements. When attempting to stand, William experienced weakness in his leg and ankle, rendering him unable to walk. His doctor placed him on permanent disability, and these injuries have unfortunately worsened over time. Presently, he relies on a wheelchair for most of his daily activities.

Facing Challenges Together

Adding to their hardships, William's wife also sustained injuries from a car accident, leaving her wheelchair-dependent. Her insurance covered the cost of modifying their existing van but not the vehicle itself. With both William and his wife relying on disability income, their monthly financial situation made it impossible to afford purchasing a new van or managing car payments.

Hope and Support

During his online research, William discovered the Joseph Groh Foundation. This organization provides dedicated support to individuals in the contracting industry who have been impacted by life-altering disabilities. In his application to the foundation, William shared, "My wife and I live a simple life. Our old van just died so now we have no transportation. I pray your foundation can help us get a new vehicle."

Thanks to the generosity of the Foundation's supporters, William's request was granted. This enabled the foundation to we were able to fill the gap and provide William and his wife with the funds they needed to purchase a 2018 van.

The van's interior also underwent a transformation to accommodate both William and his wife as drivers. Since they would occupy both the passenger and driver sections of the vehicle, the original driver and passenger seats were removed. In their place, wheelchair locks were installed to secure their wheelchairs during travel. A track system was also added to allow for easy maneuvering of the wheelchairs within the van. Finally, hand controls were installed to ensure whoever was driving could do so safely and comfortably. This customization ensured the van would perfectly suit their needs for independent transportation.

Following the renovation, the McKay’s wrote to the foundation and said, “What a blessing this foundation has been to us. Their wonderful gift has provided us with a beautiful van that we will treasure. It will help us so much with having safe and dependable transportation! What a blessing! Thank you again!”

Daikin proudly supports the Joseph Groh Foundation. William's story serves as a testament to the positive impact made possible through the generous donations of the Foundation's sponsors. Join us in lighting the way for others and become a Joseph Groh Foundation Luminary today.