Friday, April 29, 2011

Louisiana Company Mends Roofs and Spirits of Residents

by Shannon Prudhomme
Contributor, Gulf Coast Philanthropy

Roof Giveaway Winner Dale Benoit (right) pictured holding
the campaign sign with Billy Savely of Roofing Louisiana
Photo courtesy of Roofing Louisiana, LLC
“Pay it forward,” is the advice Billy Savely, owner of Roofing Louisiana, LLC, gives to recipients of his quarterly roof giveaway to needy families. 

He launched this initiative through his Lafayette, Louisiana-based company in October 2010 after recognizing the impact of the economy on his business.

“It was literally our worst year,” he said. Rather than focus on his lack of clientele, Savely shifted his attention to contributing to the community.

“If I couldn’t sell a roof, I decided to flip the situation: I would give one away to a family in need. Times were hard, but I had faith. I knew that what you give, you get back.”

He promoted the campaign on social media websites and even purchased radio advertisements. Over 1,400 residents applied for the company’s first roof giveaway, and the first recipient was provided with a new roof for Christmas 2010. Overwhelmed by this large response, Savely said he and his staff selected a first and second place winner. “I never knew the level of need for this sort of thing,” he said.

Residents like Dale Benoit, who was selected for the first giveaway, really emphasized the need for this campaign, Savely said.

“She risked getting electrocuted because there was water getting into her light fixtures,” he said. “When it rains some nights, I can’t sleep when I think people who have holes in their roofs and the electrical outlets getting wet.”

The cost of labor and materials for each new roof is approximately $4,000, all of which was initially contributed by Roofing Louisiana.

The company was actually founded as a result of Savely recognizing how contractors were taking advantage of area residents. In 2002, Hurricane Lili ripped through the Gulf of Mexico, including the nearly 48-square mile city of Lafayette. “I saw local and out-of-town contractors really taking advantage of people,” he said.

Armed with previous entrepreneurial experience and an understanding the threat of annual natural disasters in the area, Savely said he launched the construction / roofing company committed to providing honest, good service.

Partial view of roof work done for a recent winner.

Photo courtesy of Roofing Louisiana, LLC
“The slogan we’ve had for 10 years now is ‘We’re Not Leaving Town’,” he said. “I only had a financial management background, but I was experienced in business enough to know you surround yourself with people smarter than yourself or more knowledgeable in the industry,” he said.

Using those skills and the work ethic instilled in him by his mother, Guadalupe Cochran, Savely launched his roofing company the following year. “My mother worked hard to raise six kids by herself – all with morals and values,” he said. “I knew my mother needed help at times, and someone always helped, now I ‘pay it forward’ by helping others.”
Savely said those hardships allowed him to have certain perspective and understand for those in need. “We moved twelve times in one year,” he said. “I know what it is to be in a bad situation or just need help.”

His company’s philanthropic efforts recently garnered the support of other businesses: Owens Corning and GAF/ELK have agreed to donate $3,000 worth of shingles; and Stines Home Improvement and West End Roofing Supply both plan to deliver products and accessories. Further, a local consignment shop owner offered to provide clothing for one of the future roof giveaway recipients.

“This isn’t about glory because we’re already the largest residential roofing company in Lafayette,”he said. “This is sincerely about helping people.”

Savely said he his proudest moment since launching the campaign occurred when one of the recipients unexpectedly contacted him. “A few days after fixing the roof of one of our first recipients I received a text message from them,” he said. “It just said ‘Mr. Billy, thanks again and I just paid it forward.’”

Roofing Louisiana is currently accepting applications for its next roof giveaway. The deadline is June 30, 2011, and applications should be submitted online by visiting the company website.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Passion Into Action: Employee Volunteer Programs

by Laprisha Berry Vaughn
Contributor, Gulf Coast Philanthropy

In honor of National Volunteer Week (April 10-16, 2011) it seems apropos to highlight the importance and potential of employee volunteer programs (EVP).

In the 1970s, under the Nixon Administration, businesses were called to assume broader responsibility for the quality of American life and to expand their somewhat myopic focus from profit and corporate business alone to people and community business as well.  This charge resulted in the birth of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and EVPs were established as a pillar of CSR. 

Through EVPs, employees were increasingly encouraged to volunteer with local organizations and to participate in company-sponsored community projects.  Since the first documented case of employee volunteerism, the number of companies who support EVPs has continued to grow as well as the number of employees actively participating in these programs.

Employee volunteerism continues to rise and there is no wonder with so many benefits for the company and the community. EVPs benefit companies by:

  • Complimenting business goals - Community investment helps build community capacity, creating a stable, sustainable and healthy local community that will often supply the company’s employees and customers.
  • Building employee morale – EVPs allow employees to find an enjoyable way to interact with colleagues and the community.
  • Providing teamwork/teambuilding activities – Volunteering can foster inter-departmental cohesion by enabling new teams to work together and create a sense of common purpose.
  • Creating leadership opportunities - Working outside the constraints of the company may allow unlikely leaders to emerge and use skills that are otherwise untapped.
Addressing and helping to alleviate community issues - EVPs seek out causes that matter to the company and the community. Nonprofit organizations can benefit from EVPs in the following ways:
  • Increasing visibility - Partnerships offer an expanded audience to which nonprofit organizations can communicate community needs and organizations that are working to address them.
  • Increasing credibility – A partnership between a well-known business entity and a lesser known non profit organization can raise the credibility of the latter within the community served and the business community.
  • Providing networking opportunities – Partnerships between the nonprofit and for profit sectors open lines of communication between diverse sections of the community.   
  • Employing new talents/ideas to meet community needs – EVPs provide new talent and energy by increasing the number of volunteers and pool of available skills and increases capacity to provide community service.
  • Leveraging business savvy – There is a trend among EVPs to provide expertise to the nonprofit sector and to enlist the help of the nonprofit for its expertise rather than going to an outside consultant.
Neither of the lists of benefits are exhaustive.  And the bottomline is that successful EVPs that are meaningful and sustainable result in meaningful impacts for companies, their employees and the community. Employee volunteer programs allow a company to invest in a community and allow nonprofit organizations to increase their impact by enlisting the help of others.

If you participate in an EVP let us know about it and you/your company could be featured on GCPs website.  If you’re not currently volunteering or have not established an EVP, National Volunteer Week is an ideal time to reflect on the past and plan for the future.  Use this week to make new commitments to volunteering for this year and beyond.

In an effort to encourage volunteerism and giving in the community, GCP Contributors invites readers to share the volunteerism efforts of their companies. How has volunteerism impacted your colleagues and/or family?