It’s National Volunteer Week, and we’re celebrating our employees who collectively volunteered more than 113,000 hours of service in 2014.
We’re spotlighting two Monsanto employees who received The President’s Volunteer Service Award (PVSA) this year. Today we’re featuring Frank of Muscatine, Iowa. Check back on Friday to read about Mary of Centralia, Ill. site. Together, they gave more than 1,250 hours of their time for community outreach.
Frank has worked as a production technician for more than 18 years at the Monsanto site in Muscatine, Iowa. He finds joy in sharing how his group has helped to change the neighborhoods they live in. For National Rebuilding Day this year, he’ll lead a crew to work on improving eight homes and a children’s shelter.
Q: Which organization do you volunteer with?
A: I am the founder and executive director of Rebuilding Together Muscatine County. We are part of a national organization that works with low-income homeowners to rebuild and modify their homes.
I started the local chapter of Rebuilding Together in 2007, as a Leadership Muscatine project with the Greater Muscatine Chamber of Commerce and Industry. It all began when the co-chair of our local Meals on Wheels program – knowing I like to build things – connected me with an elderly client whose porch was in bad shape and in need of repair. After figuring out the cost, we decided to rebuild his porch; we had such a good turnout and so much fun that we did it again for another client the next year.
Q: Why is volunteering important to you?
A: I have always believed that we can all help each other. I like to find a person that needs something, find another person that has what that person needs, and bring the two together. Rebuilding Together does this by bringing communities together to help those among us that are less fortunate.
Q: Tell us a story from your volunteer work that has had a big impact on you.
A: Since the start of the group in 2007, we have worked on close to 60 homes and non-profit centers. To pick one story is difficult, but there is one from 2014 that I will remember for a long time. The homeowner, a 48-year-old Spanish man, was thrown from a horse and paralyzed from the chest down – he could only move his arms. His family rented the only ramp they could find – one for $100 per month, which was too steep for him to navigate by himself. We went in, took the existing ramp out and built one for him according to ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) Standards.
That day, a translator wasn’t needed – despite the language barrier, we could see the gratitude through his and his family’s laughter, tears and applause. You see, for the first time in two years, this man was finally able to go outside, descend the ramp and travel along the sidewalk all by himself. I don’t speak any Spanish but when he motioned for me to come over, hugged me and wet my shirt with crying and laughing, I knew exactly what he was saying.
Q: What have you learned from your volunteer work?
A: There are a lot of people who, through no fault of their own, have been kicked and kicked again by life. Whether they are facing poor health, job loss, or a tragic accident with little or insufficient insurance, we need to remember that people are usually not low-income by choice; something has happened to them. Our tagline is “It Just Needs Done.” I have said this for years and now this whole group repeats it when asked why we do what we do. Our goal is to keep people safe, warm and in their homes.