Across the Renewal by Andersen network, community giving runs deep. Making a difference in our communities is part of our DNA, after all. RbA of Eastern New York has, since 2019, emulated this value through their Labor of Love initiative. Labor of Love originated from the team’s desire to get involved with the community, to go above and beyond simply writing a check. Labor of Love is a vehicle to get their entire team involved in giving activities continuously throughout the year. “In a nutshell, the key behind the Labor of Love projects is that we’re able to do them hands-on in the communities,” states RbA of Eastern New York’s President, Eric Minkiewicz..
For the first Labor of Love initiative, the team partnered with Girls Inc, a nonprofit that empowers girls to be “Strong, Smart, & Bold.” Girls Inc’s original request was simply to help replace a broken window. RbA of Eastern New York rallied teams across their two facilities, Albany and Hudson Valley, and showed up in numbers to not only replace the broken windows, but also rehab the facility’s outdoor space and playground, including fresh concrete and repaired swings and picnic tables.
Labor of Love has continued to make a difference in the community, most recently through partnership with the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York, a Feeding America member that has been feeding hungry people across the region since the 1980s. Minkiewicz believes the Labor of Love initiative, especially their partnership with the Regional Food Bank, is more important than ever: “It’s a sign of the times, with the challenges that we face in the economy with inflation, food security is a major issue today.” He goes on to describe the driver of this gratifying partnership, “It’s one of these problems that goes unnoticed and undiagnosed, but [hunger] affects people at the most basic level. So, you know, it was a natural fit to partner with the Regional Food Bank.”
To rally the team, Eric, along with Lisa Lavigne, Director of Business Development and David Echevarria, Installation Manager, capitalized on the competitive nature of their teams, and challenged each division, operations, sales, and administrative support, to donate the most cans possible. Using TVs throughout the office to promote progress and incorporating a raffle with the ability to exchange cans for raffle tickets, the teams started showing up with armloads of cans – and even got homeowners involved in the cause! Of the competition, Lisa says, “It was all in good spirit. I mean, at the end of the day, the goal was how many meals can we provide? And what can we give back to our local community?”
To make the greatest impact for the Food Bank, the team expanded the Labor of Love challenge beyond their office walls and involved the community, their homeowners. Installers used a flyer to communicate the initiative to homeowners without pressure. Install Manager, David Echevarria, was impressed with the way his teams rallied around the cause, “When we were packing up and finishing the projects, customers were coming out with bags of food and saying that they wanted to help, that they wanted to donate. The installation teams really embraced this.”
The community partnership with the Regional Food Bank of Eastern New York will continue to be a focus this year, and the team is researching new organizations with whom to partner for their Labor of Love campaign, so they can get out in the community and be Difference Makers.
“I think for me one of the things that I took away is that you can’t take away the feel good. You know, after you do something like that, when we dropped off 5 full pallets of cans that day, you sit there, and you see [the impact of] it even though it’s in a huge warehouse. And for them to say to you ‘we never get this amount of cans in in one delivery.’ You just can’t take away that feel good.” – Lisa Lavigne