Team Honda Cares
Right Honda, Freeway Honda and Weir Canyon Honda once again stepped up to participate in Team Honda’s Week of Service. June 7-16 was designated by Honda as their 4th annual week of “volunteerism” – reinforcing the Team Honda spirit of working together to make a difference in the communities where we live and work.
This year our Honda stores chose to collect, assemble, and distribute backpacks of supplies to the homeless. We partnered with Robert Thornton of Cloud Covered Streets, a homeless support group out of Arizona. Months ahead of time associates began collecting hygiene items, sunscreen, snacks, water, flashlights, blankets, first-aid kits, socks and other necessities. We even created special resource guides providing information on where these individuals can go for assistance. The first week of June was “assembly.” Jane D’Amelio – Right Toyota, Gina Paramo – Toyota of Huntington Beach, Liz Evans – Freeway Honda, Cayte Macias – Weir Canyon Honda, and Jeanette Rivera – Wilson Automotive, spent hours stuffing the bags and getting them ready for distribution. Each bag contained a t-shirt with the team slogan, “In a world where you can be anything – be kind.” However, the most special item in each bag was a personalized note of encouragement hand-written by one of our associates.
The organization and assembly was hard work. But the reward came when we hit the streets with over 300 backpacks. These people were surprised at the friendliness and warmth of our employees. They loved it that of all the ways to serve our communities, we chose them. We didn’t choose to be in air-conditioned buildings, sending out emails, raising money, or even serving food to people we wouldn’t join to share a meal. We chose these “invisible” people that society so often ignores. We chose to walk the streets carrying heavy backpacks, driving hundreds of miles on back streets, alleys, river beds and train tracks to find people that others avoid. We did it for them; but we received much more than they did in the process.
It was over 100 degrees when we hit the streets of Phoenix. Robert from Cloud Covered Streets was able to join us for this one, and the one in Venice. We met a lot of families with children just trying to get out of the heat. Of all the items in the backpacks, the water was by far most in demand.
While Orange County has done much to help the homeless community, in the heart of Santa Ana we were faced with a harsh reality: Dozens of people living on the streets. Sun worn and hungry, most of them were just looking for a comfortable place to lay their heads for the night. It was evening; so we purchased 50 burritos from Del Taco to hand out with the backpacks. We made a personal connection with many of these people; and some of their stories will haunt us.
Within the artsy, fun loving beach city of Venice lives a large homeless community. Many find shelter beneath the palm trees, while others gather their few belongings on the grassy areas. We were surprised at how many were selling their own art work and crafts just to make money to eat that day. They were extremely grateful for the backpacks and supplies, and especially all the snacks.
Heartfelt thanks to everyone who helped with this great project. We changed some lives with our efforts; and those of us who participated were changed as well.
If you would like to help next year and participate in Honda’s Week of Service (no matter which dealership you work for), please email us. We are looking for great ideas, strong hands and warm hearts.