Each year, Herc Rentals finds new ways to give back to the communities in which we operate.
From branches conducting community or school fundraisers, Team Herc giving up its free time to help a city or town in an emergency or one of our drivers taking the time to help a stranded motorist, the company believes in helping in any way it can.
While our day-to-day business involves delivering equipment and expertise to our customers, 15 women from our Bonita Springs, FL, Field Support Center (FSC) helped deliver a dream to a family in Fort Myers, FL.
As part of Habitat for Humanity’s nationwide initiative, “Women Build,” female volunteers from the FSC raised money and assisted in the construction of a home for a Fort Myers widow and her five young children. Habitat’s initiative is designed to bring women together and build nice, safe homes for families in need of affordable housing.
Devastated after the untimely death of the family’s patriarch, making ends meet became a hardship for the widow, a full-time chef at an area nursing home. With median home values in Southwest Florida hovering around $230,000, rents exceeding $1,000 per month for a one-bedroom apartment, and a severe shortage of quality affordable housing, the family turned to Habitat for Humanity for help.
With the help of Habitat, Herc Rentals and several other teams, the family’s tears of heartache were transformed into tears of joy. Each team was charged with raising money to pay for materials to build the home and were then given a “build day” where they are assigned a task that involved helping complete the home’s construction.
Team Herc’s responsibility included helping raise a portion of $243,000 for this and another family’s home and, as part of its build day, painting the entire three-bedroom/two-bathroom home’s interior.
“Going into the last week before the build, Habitat was short of their goal by a few thousand dollars,” explained Chelle Rice, Herc Rental’s business process manager who initiated the company’s involvement with the project.
The team then had to make one last push, a Hail Mary of sorts that came in the form of bean bags and an FSC cornhole tournament that coincided with a quarterly meeting of the Herc Rentals’ region vice presidents. The two-day tournament held after work and outside the Field Support Center brought in an additional $1,700 and upped the FSC’s team contribution to more than $7,200.
While the women’s team didn’t raise the most money for the build, the 112 donations they collected more than doubled the next best team’s number of donations, Rice said.
Once enough funds were secured for the build, Team Herc’s women arrived on the build site.
“We started at 8 a.m., did a safety huddle and we even did a morning stretch,” Rice said.
Robyn Brown, the company’s senior business transformation director, said she was impressed by the way everyone came prepared to work.
“We didn’t know what we would be doing until we arrived,” Brown said. “They only expected us to the first coat of paint, but we did both coats ... It was a really cool out-of-the-office team-building experience and I hope it’s something we do again.”
Teamwork, Rice said, was the reason the women painted the interior of three bedroom, two bathroom home so quickly. “We really knocked it out. Even the Habitat site supervisor was impressed,” Rice said. “She never had a team where every member showed up early and worked so efficiently together.”
While the ultimate mission of the “Women Build” was to provide a needy and deserving family with a quality, affordable home, it will also have a long-term benefit for Herc Rentals, said Linsey Kelsey, the company’s graphic and digital design manager. “It gave us all an opportunity to get to know one another on a more personal level,” Kelsey said. “I really didn’t know anyone on the team. It was also nice to get my hands dirty — or in this case full of paint — and represent Herc Rentals in our community.”
A little more than a week later, Rice and some other members of the FSC team joined the other build teams for the home’s dedication ceremony.
“I’ve worked on these (Habitat) sites before, but never went to the dedication. For the dedication, they said to bring tissues because there were going to be tears,” Rice said. “They were right.”
On the day before Mother’s Day and roughly a year since the family’s patriarch died, the teams returned to the site and formed a big circle in the front yard. As they gathered, Habitat officials spoke about the new homeowner and all the work it took place to get to this moment.
“There were more than 50 people there and every single one of them had a hand in helping build this home,” Rice said.
After the brief ceremony that included an American flag presentation to the family, Habitat officials passed the keys to the home to participants in the build. The keys then made their way around the big circle before landing in the palm of the new homeowner, all smiling through a steady stream of tears.
“There wasn’t a dry eye in the house — even the Habitat people were wiping away tears,” Rice said. “Seeing that made it all worth it.”