After a decade of good deeds, Home Depot Foundation leaders decided to reevaluate their focus in 2011. They’d always honed in on affordable housing, but when they began evaluating the populations who could benefit from their help, they discovered seniors, the disabled and veterans were their top candidates.
However, they quickly saw that veterans included those who were disabled as well as senior citizens. That, coupled with the 35,000-plus Home Depot associates who are veterans, led the decision to key in on efforts to help the heroes who served our country.
The Home Depot Foundation is made up entirely of company workers.
“We have close to 400,000 associates and every single one of them are a part of Team Depot,” said Heather Prill Pritchard, the foundation’s national partnerships senior manager. “Each store has a Team Depot captain and the responsibility of that captain is to be a good neighbor in his or her community. They are working through our nonprofit partners and other nonprofits in our communities to find great opportunities for our folks to give back and make a difference in their hometown.”
The foundation relies almost entirely on Team Depot members to find ways to help their communities.
“We really rely on the stores to tell us what’s happening in their communities and how they want to respond,” said Christina Glowacki-Cornell, the foundation’s public relations specialist. “The foundation doesn’t really go to stores, we rely on the stores to be the gut-check and pulse to know what’s needed and we’re here to support them with grant money or set them up with nonprofits to have the greatest impact. It really is grass roots in that respect.”
The Home Depot Foundation focuses on finding homes for homeless veterans, tending to critical home repairs and then modification of homes to help catastrophically wounded veterans. However, they do so much more, like partnering with nonprofits that work with veterans by issuing grants.
“We focus on nonprofit organizations that have a proven track record in housing,” Pritchard said. “We have about 20 national partners and thousands of local partners.”
The foundation takes an active role in its home of Atlanta, Georgia. Last year, foundation leaders committed $5 million over three years in Atlanta to complete critical home repairs for a minimum of 400 senior veterans.
They also help in disaster response.
“About 80 percent of what we do is housing and 20 percent is disaster response,” Pritchard said. “When disaster strikes, our stores and Team Depot associates are generally among the first on the scene. When a disaster strikes it hits everyone, impacts everyone, so our stores stay open longer, some of them for 24 hours, depending on the disaster.
“They’re out in the community in trucks passing out water and food,” she continued. “They’ve got tarps on hand and anything that our neighbors would want and need.”
Currently, Team Depot is doing a lot in Texas, which has experienced record flooding. Last year, members worked closely in California to help those surviving the wildfires.
Pritchard says that helping veterans is a labor of love for Team Depot.
“The most heart-wrenching [stories] for us and our associates are those serving our Vietnam- and World War II-era veterans. So many of those veterans came home and were never thanked. And they don’t ask for help,” she said. “When we’re able to find an opportunity to give back to [these] veterans, it means so much to our associates as well as to the veteran.”
Pritchard says the Home Depot Foundation, partly funded by the company and partly by donations, is having a great impact on communities around the United States, though it may be behind the scenes.
“Watching the difference that this orange army can make is just incredible,” Pritchard said. “The passion that our folks have for giving back is something everyone should see and be aware of.”
So, what’s on the horizon for the Home Depot Foundation?
“We’re seeing a great need for housing for senior veterans,” Pritchard said, “so really taking a look with our partners who work on housing for senior veterans and seeing where we need to go with that next year.”