For most of us, going to a conference is an opportunity to learn from experts and trade notes with colleagues. For Martin’s Point employees Bonnie Baker and Madeline Cate, it was also a chance to give back.
When the pair traveled to the Lean Enterprise Institute Summit 2019 in Houston this past March to learn about the latest in lean management, they stayed an extra day for a special session – a volunteer day, where 25 conference goers helped rebuild homes for people still struggling with the fallout of Hurricane Harvey.
Unique benefit makes volunteering easier, here and away
Many Martin’s Point employees take advantage of their volunteer-time-off (VTO) benefit, which gives employees 24 hours of paid-time-off to give back to their local communities each year. But Bonnie, Vice President of Martin’s Point Management System, and Madeline, Administrative Coordinator, put their “community-first” mindset in action 2,000 miles away.
“Without the VTO benefit I never would have signed up,” says Madeline.
The volunteer day let attendees see where the rubber meets the road in lean management. SBP, the nonprofit in charge of the rebuilds, has been working with Toyota’s production people to slash work time and kick up the number of rebuilds they finish each month. The results are impressive. Their efforts have cut 66 days from the rebuild process – a 33% improvement in efficiency.
Senior Hurricane Harvey victim gets a fresh start
Madeline and Bonnie rolled up their sleeves at the home of Houston resident Miss Nellie, whose house was flooded with two feet of water in August 2017. With help from AmeriCorps members, SBP staff do everything from demolition and mold remediation, to installing insulation, drywall, flooring, and trim, and painting.
“It was tough physical labor sanding concrete and painting walls, but it felt really rewarding to accomplish specific tasks, and to know Miss Nellie was that much closer to being able to return to her home,” said Bonnie.
“We felt really grateful to have the volunteer time benefit and to be able to contribute in a way that is very different from our work in an office environment,” Madeline added. “Seeing the effect of a major disaster in person and being part of the recovery every was really humbling.”
“It was surprising how much damage there still is when you realize that Hurricane Harvey happened back in 2017,” said Bonnie. “That’s a long time to be staying with family and friends and to be without a permanent home, especially for an elderly person.”
Looking for a way to give back?
Know a young person or student looking to help their community in Maine? Check out www.howtohelpinmaine.org