As the anniversary of Superstorm Sandy nears, 100 volunteers last week continued Diageo's long tradition of community service by helping Habitat for Humanity's rebuilding efforts in Breezy Point, Queens. The project was completed by Diageo's Community Activity and Relief Efforts employee volunteer group (C.A.R.E.s) from Norwalk CT and New York City, as well as local employees from our distributor partner Empire Merchants. The work helped repair private homes near the Habitat for Humanity of Westchester Command Center in Breezy Point, where more than 2,000 homes were devastated by Sandy.
"The 100 Habitat Hope Builders that Diageo brought to their volunteer event showed great esprit de corps. As Sandy's anniversary approaches, many families are still not close to being in their homes. Without groups like Diageo, the relief effort would be seriously impaired," stated Jim Killoran, CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Westchester.
The volunteers were split into teams based on skills and interest, each led by a Habitat volunteer. One group focused on cleaning up debris. A second group painted homes. A third tackled bigger construction projects, including rebuilding floors in homes and weeding the entire garden surrounding the Christ Church to make it a more beautiful place to hold services in the warm weather.
Diageo's commitment to community service extends across North America with hundreds of employees volunteering thousands of hours each year and contributing to numerous fundraising activities. This summer, Diageo C.A.R.E.s helped Person-to-Person rebuild its new Norwalk, CT facility. Local employees have also provided support for organizations like New York City's Church of the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen, the Norwalk Land Trust's Farm Creek Nature Center and Bridgeport's Beardsley Zoo. Nationally, Diageo is known for responding swiftly in times of need and, through its Spirit of the Americas program, has completed massive relief missions to areas impacted by natural disasters includingAfghanistan, Haiti, Southeast Asia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, New Orleans, Oklahoma, Texas and, most recently, Colorado. In the immediate aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, Diageo provided two 280 kilowatt generators to the fire department and an elderly facility in Newark, NJ, and distributed 85,000 bottles of spring water, over 800 winter coats and 9,600 pairs of socks, underwear and t-shirts to impacted areas of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
"Since Sandy, Diageo employees have contributed more than 2,500 hours of volunteer time and the company has given more than $100,000 in donations and supplies, not including the $10,000 check presented to Habitat for Humanity. As we near the storm's one-year anniversary, it was shocking to see how much was still left to be done," said Jon Pageler, Senior Vice President, Corporate Relations, Diageo North America. "Habitat for Humanity's projects in Breezy Point captured the hearts of our Diageo C.A.R.E.s volunteers since they were able to provide direct assistance to the people in a community that is still hurting."
Habitat for Humanity of Westchester has worked on 800 homes in the Rockaways, rehabbed 12 businesses, and assisted five congregations. The organization led a FEMA disaster relief project in 2007, mucking and gutting more than 250 homes in Mamaroneck, giving them the experience to assist Sandy victims. Habitat for Humanity of Westchester has been there since the first week with 8,000 volunteers helping in all parts of the Rockaways.