I’ve been getting my frequent flier miles the last couple of weeks as I’ve had the privilege of meeting and working with a number of nonprofit organizations that focus on helping veterans with their housing needs. I attended the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans conference, met with representatives of the White House’s Joining Forces effort, had dinner with the Special Assistant to the Joint Chiefs of Staff for Warrior & Family Support and then headed to South Dakota for a gathering of 350 of the dedicated people who work for Volunteers of America. Each conversation affirmed my belief that our new mission is right for us: to ensure that all veterans and their families have a safe place to call home.
I have to admit, though, that through this time in the back of my mind I was always thinking about what I saw when I visited Joplin, MO shortly after the tornado struck there last month. I was constantly thinking about what we were doing to help the families…and what more we could do. The destruction I saw was shocking and has lingered in my mind’s eye.
As we announced previously, the Foundation is committed to helping with the recovery and rebuilding efforts. On May 24, we announced that we will invest $1 million to help Joplin recover and rebuild. So far, we have made grants of $250,000:
- $100,000 to the Joplin Family YMCA to establish a free childcare center to the community
- $100 to Convoy of Hope’s efforts to provide relief supplies to Joplin residents
- $50,000 to Operation Blessing International to help coordinate the projects Home Depot volunteers have completed
Speaking of volunteers, we’ve had groups of associates travel to Joplin from around the Midwest to help their neighbors. By the end of the month, we’ll have had close to 1,000 Home Depot associates volunteer to clean up yards, tarp roofs and repair homes. Many more have sent me messages asking what they can do. It really is what we do for our friends and families – when someone is in a bad situation, we ask how we can help. It’s at times like these that I see most clearly that we don’t just talk about taking care of one another and our communities, we actually live it.
This was brought to light to me by one particular project. Since the storm hit, John and Debbie Lacey, both in their mid-sixties, had been living in a tent behind their home. Our partner, Operation Blessing International, identified the Laceys as a family that could use our help, and in true Home Depot fashion, our Team Depot volunteers stepped up in a big way. In just seven days, over 300 volunteers from around the region worked with Operation Blessing International to completely rebuild the Lacey’s damaged home from the studs up, and on Tuesday, June 14th, surprised them with an “Extreme Makeover” type reveal to welcome them home.
We recognize that the Laceys are just one family and there is much more work to be done. That’s why, over the next few days, weeks and months, you’ll see that we are truly committed to rebuilding Joplin one home, one park, one neighborhood at a time.
For more information on our disaster relief efforts, click here.