Russ Donnici founded Mechanical Air Service in 1977. From there the company progressed to eventually become a leading residential HVAC business servicing many high-end customers in and around San Jose, Calif.
In 1995, Donnici — himself a Vietnam War veteran — and his wife Debi began a 501(c)3 charity: Outreach Heating & Cooling, Inc., to provide HVAC service at no charge to low income people. Through its early stages, the charity helped approximately 5,000 persons, with Russ, his son Matt and son-in-law Scott Larson doing the work.
Russ contacted Contracting Business recently to report he had changed the name of the charity to the Vietnam Veteran Project. Its mandate now is to help forgotten Vietnam War veterans that are homeless and have other needs. The website contains information about the Vietnam War on a statistics page, and has a page set up for donations.
"My wife and I continue to fund the day-to-day expenses, which aren't that much," Donnici says. "The other Vietnam vets that are doing this with me and myself serve as unpaid volunteers, and 100% of all donations are used to help veterans." Some of Donnici's many HVAC clients have sent donations.
"I have had a very blessed life," Donnici said. "My wife and I have been married 46 years, our two kids are productive adults and we have six wonderful grandchildren. Last month we returned from a four-week RV trip with all six grandchildren to South Dakota, to see family and the many sites going and coming home. It was a great trip."
Russ enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1969. He served in Vietnam from 1970 to 1971 with the 5th Transportation Co. located in Cat Lai. He also served a Temporary Duty Assignment with the 1099th River Boat Company, 328th Transportation Co and the base Security unit.
After an honorable discharge from the Army, Russ pursued a career in the HVAC mechanical contracting industry, including starting and owning his own firm for 40 years. He guided Mechanical Air Service to eight national awards.
Mechanical Air Service is a multiple winner of a Contracting Business Quality Home Comfort Award. CLICK HERE to see one of the company's winning projects.