“I never expected that crafting a giant paint-by-numbers, under the blazing Arizona sun, would be one of the most impactful moments in my career. But thanks to The Home Depot Foundation’s focus on benefiting veterans in need, my artistic treasure became a professional pinnacle.
You can ask my family and colleagues, it’s probably best to keep me away from the paintbrushes or anything else that might stain- but not this time. Recently, I was fortunate enough to travel with John Chandler, Chandler, Inc. CEO, to join The Home Depot (THD) Team in serving U.S. veterans through The Home Depot Foundation. This particular event was based in Scottsdale, AZ and the mission was to revive a U.S. Vet’s facility in Phoenix, AZ. This was one of several philanthropic events THD holds throughout the year for their charitable foundation. While I thought time spent in Scottsdale for our valued client’s philanthropy would be gratifying, I never expected the life-changing impact this event would make.
Doing the Right Thing
Our first night began with a kick-off presentation and it was clear from the start we were in for something truly inspirational. THD leadership gave us an in-depth look at another outstanding year in the home improvement business and highlighted its mission to ensure ‘excellent customer service.’ From there, THD went on to emphasize the root of their philanthropy and the ‘why’s’ for doing what they do: their corporate core values. They detailed their reverence for ‘Giving Back, Respect for All People, Doing the Right Thing,’ and so much more. However, their positive rhetoric merely scratched the surface or their philanthropic intentions.
The presentation propelled when THD shared their inspiring vision of their foundation’s goals of ending veteran homelessness, training returning soldiers in skilled trades careers back home, and assisting communities during natural disasters. This quickly changed my perspective our business partnership. I had known my role as Account Director to THD was to make sure the services and products we provide align with their core values. But at this moment I realized Chandler’s partnership with THD meant so much more than bolstering the future of retail. We were out to change lives, better our neighbors, and build brighter tomorrows. While the Foundation’s goals certainly struck a cord, but the best was yet to come.
The Rally Cry
The importance of the foundation’s work was amplified by an awe-inspiring guest, U.S. veteran Malcom. He’s featured in this video, which shares his dually moving yet, heartbreaking story. I’m not sure I could survive a year or even a week living in the hunger and pain he endured for 12 years, isolated from friends and family. Yet here Malcolm stood, full of hope, joy, and gratitude. It is incredibly hard to put into words just how moved I felt hearing him speak. It always pains me to hear that our country, which is so proud of our soldiers and so filled with patriotism still leaves those that have given the most, without the help they need. Seeing THD step up and fill this gap through their efforts and bring to life their values of ‘Respect for all People’ and ‘Giving Back’ truly sets them apart.
If the fire to make a change for people like Malcom wasn’t already set, it was ablaze with fury then.
The next day, our motivated and inspired volunteer group was ready to take action to support veterans like Malcom. I think we were all eager to roll up our sleeves and help as we loaded onto buses and traveled to the US Vets facility in Phoenix, AZ.
Once there, 430 (!) of us descended on their facility, which houses and serves over 1,200 military vets. The Foundation then broke us into project-specific teams and sent us to work. Excited teams happily executed a variety of projects at the facility – from laying pavers and landscaping to installing flooring, and building furniture for the dormitories and public spaces. John and I got to work alongside our fellow suppliers and members of the in-store environment team painting one of two beautiful murals at the facility.
Benefiting Veterans In Need
It was the most rewarding time I’ve ever spent dipping brushes into paint, regardless of the Arizona sun blazing overhead as we worked. (And aside from a few blue fingertips, I managed to get most of it onto the wall)! By day’s end, it was incredible to look around and see these spaces transformed through our efforts. My hope is that these small gestures bring a bit of joy and hope to visitors as they begin to rebuild their lives.
Thank you to The Home Depot for inviting Chandler, Inc. to team-up and join you in serving those that have served us so courageously. This is a company that walks the walk! Thank you, U.S. veterans, for all that you do to support and care for our soldiers. Especially, thank you, Malcom, for your service, your courage, your joy, and your message of hope.”
-Mike Epsky, Account Director for The Home Depot
To learn more about The Home Depot Foundation or find out how you can contribute to this worthy cause, tap here.