It's one thing for Lowe's to say we care – it's another to see Lowe's caring every day. The Lowe's Heroes program encourages employees to team together, adopt a volunteer project with a local non-profit organization or K-12 public school and make a difference in their community.
Our teams are proud of the thousands of hours they volunteer each year to improve the places where they work and live. As our communities face challenges to find funding and assistance, our employees continue to step forward to extend a hand. In 2009, Lowe's Heroes responded to needs big and small, from Canada to California.
- More than 70 Lowe's employee volunteers from eight Detroit-area stores joined Lowe's Senior CLASS Award basketball finalists Lester Hudson, Andy Wicke and Jimmy Baron to renovate the Detroit Edison Public School Academy. Volunteers spent the day landscaping, mulching and adding fencing around the student vegetable garden, building a large retaining wall and preparing another wall with base paint to accommodate a mural highlighting African-American history.
- About 60 Lowe's employees chipped in to paint, landscape and revamp the playground at Kessler Elementary School, the oldest school in Longview, WA. The Lowe's volunteers also built a new soccer field for the school, constructing and installing new goalposts.
- A crew of about 30 associates from the Hibbing, MN, store constructed a new warming house for the patrons of the ice skating rink at the city-owned park. “This is Lowe's way of giving back to the community that has supported us, even through these rough times,” said Curtis Larson, operations manager at Lowe's.
- The teachers at Nicholas Valley Elementary were desperate to update their 19-year-old lounge. When the Lowe's team at the Temecula, CA, store found out, they painted the lounge and put in new cabinets, appliances and furniture. And they did it in one weekend, giving the teachers a surprise when they returned to school.
- Several employees from the Mount Olive, NJ, Lowe's came together to help Roxbury High School students and teachers honor the memory of a journalism instructor. Jane Hopper was a lover of Shakespeare, so Lowe's volunteers helped create a Shakespearean garden. They installed benches, shrubs and a water feature, and in the spring planted perennials mentioned in Shakespeare's work.
- Four stores came together to improve the living spaces at the Yawkey Family Inn, the home-away-from-home for long-term care families at Children's Hospital of Boston. Employees from Lowe's of Danvers, Woburn, Framingham and Haverhill donated closet shelving, child safety items, toolboxes, step stools and other necessities. The stores installed shelving for 16 closets at the Inn, making the rooms more comfortable for families in residence.
- Three Lowe's stores in Fort Wayne, IN, pooled the $1,200 that each store typically sets aside to spend on its annual Heroes community project. The stores worked together to make critical repairs to the home of a 73-year-old woman in LaGrange who is raising great-grandsons with special needs. Fifteen Lowe's employees contributed more than 700 volunteer hours. They carpeted and tiled the entire house, installed kitchen cabinets and turned a one-room addition that was connected to the garage into a three-room living area with separate bedrooms for the 7-year-old and 6-year-old boys.
- Twenty employee volunteers from the Machesney Park Lowe's rebuilt 11 closets at the Walter Lawson Children's Home in Loves Park, IL. The home serves severely handicapped residents. Tara Lee, department manager and Lowe's project coordinator, saw the need to give back after seeing up close the dedication of two longtime administrators. “They are doing it by themselves,” Lee said. “I couldn't think of a better service than to come in and help Walter Lawson. This is a big deal because we are new to the community. We are a corporation with a big heart.”
- Nine Lowe's volunteers built an arena and donated handrails for Fire Horse Farm in Henderson, Texas. The therapeutic equestrian center helps children and adults with disabilities improve their balance, coordination and confidence. The arena allows participants to ride independently.
- Fourteen volunteers from the McMinnville Lowe's installed and painted a 10-by-10-foot storage shed that the store donated to Juliette's House, an agency in Portland, OR, that provides medical and forensic assessment of victims of suspected child sex abuse. The Juliette House's development director said the shed would save the agency about $1,000 in off-site storage fees, freeing up money to provide services for children.
- Employees at Lowe's Regional Distribution Centers took part in the Heroes program for the first time this year. The Perris, CA, RDC used its $3,000 budget and expertise from 11 associates who put in 175 volunteer hours to spruce up the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southwest County, the oldest of four area clubs. Among the upgrades, they painted the club's computer lab and all-purpose room, and added shelves, cabinets and a sink to the all-purpose room. In addition, the associates built 10 computer work stations into the wall, so the children no longer have to sit at computers on foldout tables. Some children from the club expressed their gratitude through a hand-painted poster with about a dozen handprints and a message that read: “Thank you Lowe's for helping our club.”
- Determined to make a difference for the homeless in their community, volunteers at the Regional Distribution Center in Cheyenne, WY, completed a safe playground for children attending the day care center of the Wyoming Coalition for the Homeless. The Lowe's Heroes are also working to educate the public and stimulate commitments from other companies and individuals to support the Wyoming Coalition for the Homeless.
- Heroes from the Lowe's RDC in Garysburg, NC, invested their time and effort in making major improvements to the Garysburg Youth Center. The Lowe's team provided kitchen appliances and an air conditioning system, and some of the Lowe's workers are mentoring students.
Lowe's Employee Relief Fund
We've shared how quickly Lowe's employees leap to help others in the community. The Employee Relief Fund exists so Lowe's employees can help each other in times of need. The fund, which began in 1999, has contributed $9.6 million in assistance to more than 9,000 employees and their families. Making employee donations even more powerful, Lowe's matches each contribution dollar-for-dollar.
Lowe's employees contributed in bigger numbers during the 2009 spring campaign, with an increase in participation and a 37 percent rise in donations. The Employee Relief Fund distributed more than $1.2 million during the first nine months of 2009.
Those dollars offered a helping hand to more than 1,100 employees, including these:
- Cindy Quinlan, a nursery specialist in San Marcos, CA, had more than a dozen coworkers comfort and care for her during the months preceding her death from cancer in late June. On Sept. 11, more than 40 associates from the San Marcos store – a third of the staff – filled zone manager Dave Brown's backyard for a celebration of Cindy's life. Her coworkers presented a $1,500 Employee Relief Fund check to Cindy's children, laughing and crying with the family, and overwhelming them in the process. “They were really amazed that so many people felt so strongly about their mother,” store manager Ray Pepin said.
- Brenda Rutherford, a Lowe's cashier in Plant City, FL, said she's been giving to the Emergency Relief Fund since she was hired four years ago. She never expected to need its assistance. But when her mother had open heart surgery in May and suffered complications, Rutherford turned to Lowe's for help. The fund helped her pay for multiple trips to South Tampa to visit her mother in the hospital. “I can't even tell you how thankful I am,” she said. “Every time I drove out there, I was thinking about all the folks who gave.”
- Rick Fleming, a Lowe's delivery driver in Union Gap, WA, received assistance after a January storm with 100-mph winds totaled his mobile home and severely damaged his barn. He said the funds helped him pay for temporary housing and repair the fences used to keep his horses and dogs on the property.
- Shawn Clements said he never saw a bill in the six-figure range until two medical emergencies hit his family at once when his pregnant wife, Roxanne, was diagnosed with preeclampsia in April. His daughter, Parker, was born three months premature and spent eight weeks in the hospital. His wife required a two-week stay. Clements, an installed sales manager in Pooler, GA, said the Lowe's emergency fund provided more than just financial relief. “It was something to smile about when there wasn't anything to smile about,” he said.
- Amy Greer, human resources manager at the Lowe's in Elizabethton, TN, said employees at her store are “true believers” in the power of the Emergency Relief Fund. She said it has come to the aid of several employees, including one who broke down and cried the day he got his check.
- Steve Carey had two surprises in May when he returned to Arizona after his daughter's funeral in Illinois. The first was an inbox full of condolences, many from Missouri, where word of his 24-year-old daughter's passing had reached his former coworkers at Lowe's of O'Fallon. The second surprise: His human resources manager in Scottsdale mentioning that financial assistance was just an application away. “The timing was perfect,” said Carey, a department manager in flooring. “All of a sudden, all of the bills started to come in. What we received from all of the people who have put into this fund came at a great time. We were able to pay some of these extra expenses, which took a lot of stress off of me.”
Muscular Dystrophy Association
Since 2001, Lowe's stores have supported the Muscular Dystrophy Association's Shamrocks Against Dystrophy campaign, an annual initiative to battle neuromuscular diseases. In 2009, we expanded the program to our Canadian stores through the Buck for Luck campaign. Together, our North American employees and customers raised more than $4.3 million, a record for retailers supporting the Shamrocks campaign. That brings the total Lowe's has raised since the program began to more than $9 million.
From dedicated cashiers who promote the program to the teams that donate as a group project, our employees across North America bring out the best in each other to make things better for those less fortunate. The money raised through Lowe's campaigns helps fund summer camp for children. It provides financial assistance for families to purchase necessary medical devices, including 2,100 wheelchairs and leg braces. It also helps support 51,000 research minutes – that's more than 850 hours of research dedicated to curing muscular dystrophy, ALS and related diseases that affect more than one million Americans.
Lowe's Charitable and Educational Foundation
The Lowe's Charitable and Educational Foundation was created in 1957 to assist communities through financial contributions while also encouraging employees to become involved through volunteerism. In 2008, the Foundation supported more than 1,400 community and education projects in the United States and Canada through grants totaling more than $15 million.
The Foundation is committed to projects that improve schools and benefit communities, often beyond town borders. In 2009, it has served both missions through a wide range of grants.
- Cross Timbers Elementary School received a $124,500 grant toward the renovation of its outdoor play areas in Edmond, OK. The school is creating an inclusive and safe environment for children with disabilities to play alongside peers. The grant will allow the school to purchase new play sets and to resurface an existing play pad. The play area is designed to go beyond the needs of the handicapped and wheelchair-bound students and provide gathering opportunities for parents and grandparents also facing physical challenges.
- The Lowe's Charitable and Educational Foundation is investing in teacher training in North Carolina and beyond by giving $100,000 to The Hill Center in Durham, NC. The Hill Center transforms students with learning disabilities into confident, independent learners directly through classroom teaching and indirectly through teacher training. It has trained more than 7,500 teachers from 74 North Carolina counties, 17 states and four countries, and its goal is to double the number of teachers trained annually over the next four years. The grant will help fund technology and construction costs for a distance learning lab with LCD projectors and an audio/video conferencing system that will make training accessible to more teachers.
- The Foundation contributed $100,000 to complete the restoration of the first library in Kingston, NY. The library, donated by Andrew Carnegie in 1903 and in use until 1974, sits on the campus of Kingston High School. Increased classroom space, two dance studios, computer labs, a recording studio and a performance stage are planned to help the library serve as an extension of the school and a cultural center in addition to being an historic landmark.
- The Foundation awarded a $50,000 grant to the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety for a comprehensive training facility for emergency response teams in Michigan. The grant will be used to purchase construction materials required for an indoor simulated residential and commercial block that will be used for medical, fire and police training year-round.
- The Bradley Technology and Trade School in Milwaukee received a $141,000 grant to build an urban agricultural training space and green garage. Students at the high school are learning green-building technologies and construction methods by building the facility, which will include solar panels, rainwater retention capabilities and in-ground heating. The Growing Spaces project also includes plans for a rooftop community garden that will provide food for neighbors and local food pantries.
- In Augusta, GA, the grand opening of the William Bartram Rain Garden boardwalk in May marked the unveiling of another educationally stimulating venue funded by a Lowe's Charitable and Educational Foundation grant. The $25,000 grant helped the Southeastern Natural Sciences Academy extend the boardwalk by hundreds of feet and created more decks around the rain garden at Phinizy Swamp Nature Park. The boardwalk acts as a laboratory for students to safely explore swamp ecology.
In September, the Lowe's Charitable and Educational Foundation extended its outreach to K-12 public education by dedicating more than $2.5 million in additional grants to schools and non-profit organizations facing fundamental needs in difficult economic times.
“At a time when schools and organizations that support youth need funding the most, Lowe's has increased its charitable commitment to education,” said Larry D. Stone, chairman of the Lowe's Charitable and Educational Foundation. “We are dedicated to building brighter futures for students by providing the resources and funds necessary to foster vocational education, innovative learning environments, safer physical education, and technology that will address the needs of schools and communities across the United States and Canada.”
The 2009 regional grants include:
- Atlanta, GA: Alonzo A. Crim Open Campus High School for playground projects, weight and exercise equipment and new school lounges.
- Baton Rouge, LA.: East Baton Rouge Parish School System to renovate and improve the safety of Twin Oaks Elementary School's playground and outdoor fitness equipment.
- Chicago, IL: Steinmetz Academic Centre High School to purchase materials needed to build a fence around the play field as well as to repair gym doors to meet safety codes.
- Dayton, OH: Longfellow Learning Academy to renovate the auditorium and provide new technology.
- Elk Grove, CA: Cosumnes Oaks High School to purchase materials for a LEED certified home and greenhouse on the school's campus. The project will benefit the community by allowing students to share with visitors the benefits of building with materials that are cleaner, safer, recyclable and sustainable.
- Louisville, KY: West End School to repair the original 1923 radiant heat units and air conditioning along with purchasing library bookcases, desks and tables.
- Markham, Ontario: Toronto Kiwanis Boys & Girls Club to create an industrial-equipped kitchen, which will allow the club to meet public health safety standards.
- Orlando, FL: School Board of Orange County, Cherokee School to create an ADA-compliant playground, outdoor classroom and garden and to provide physical education equipment for disabled students.
- Richmond, VA: Richmond City Public Schools to refurbish a classroom so that students can learn vocational skills in a bistro as part of the Career and Technical Education program.
- San Antonio, TX: South San Antonio School District to renovate portable buildings to increase classroom space and provide better flooring, lighting, windows and air conditioning units.
- Tucson, AZ: Harelson Elementary School to build an outdoor learning center and to provide materials for campus beautification.
Developing Careers, Focusing on Safety
In 2008, we extended our Culture of Caring to even more communities as Lowe's opened 115 new stores throughout North America, creating approximately 21,000 jobs and offering comprehensive benefits to full- and part-time employees.
Lowe's new-employee training programs continue to expand, demonstrating our commitment to developing skills and launching careers. In 2008, store employees voluntarily completed more than 4 million training courses using our interactive network, an increase of 18 percent from 2007.
Building Healthier Lifestyles Together
Life Track, Lowe's innovative health and wellness program, has been improving the lives of full- and part-time employees and their families since its introduction in 2007. The program addresses all aspects of a healthier lifestyle, from diet and nutrition to exercise and stress management.
Lowe's commitment to a healthy workplace received special recognition in June, when the National Business Group on Health presented Lowe's with its “2009 Best Employers for Healthy Lifestyles” award. The non-profit group honored Lowe's as an employer who has launched programs to promote living a healthier lifestyle.
Participation in Life Track programs is growing, as is the employee success rate. The Quit for Life program, which provides free and unlimited access to trained tobacco treatment specialists, drew 10,374 participants during the first nine months of 2009. That's 5,200 more participants than the program had during all of 2008. And with a 56 percent smoking cessation rate, the program is delivering results.
A Strong Back Pays You Back, a campaign addressing an important area of health for Lowe's employees, also has seen its participation numbers shoot up this year. More than 32,000 employees took part in the program in 2009, a 285 percent increase over the 8,600 who participated last year.
Employees are also sharing in each other's successes through the Life Track Rewards program, where employees receive points for completing health-related activities and redeem those points online in exchange for prizes. More than 70,000 employees have recognized coworkers' achievements by issuing peer-to-peer points.
Lowering Costs for Higher Education
Lowe's Employee Opinion Survey program gathers important feedback each year from full- and part-time employees across the United States, Canada, Mexico and Asia, helping Lowe's create and maintain a great place to work. We have listened to our employees voice a strong desire to continue their formal education and earn either primary or secondary degrees. As a result, this fall Lowe's partnered with three major universities – Kaplan University, Capella University and Strayer University – to offer a discounted tuition rate for employees and immediate family members.
Used in conjunction with the discounted tuition, Lowe's tuition reimbursement program makes it even easier for employees to complete their education. The program provides full-time employees reimbursement for eligible expenses up to $2,500 each fiscal year.
Making higher education more affordable, Lowe's also offers the $5,000 Carl Buchan Scholarship to full-time and part-time employees and their qualified relatives. In May, 50 students across the nation received Buchan scholarships, which honor students who have a minimum 3.25 GPA and have demonstrated a history of commitment to their community through leadership activities, community service and/or work experience.
Diversity and Inclusion
At Lowe's, inclusion means creating a place where everyone has the opportunity to grow and succeed. Lowe's goal is to treat our customers, coworkers, communities, investors and vendors with respect and dignity, and to offer all employees the opportunity to build a career.
We concentrate our diversity and inclusion efforts in four areas:
- Work Force
- Vendors and Suppliers
Our Diversity Advisory Council and our nine Diversity Leadership Teams are in their second year of existence. Co-chaired by Robert A. Niblock, Lowe's chairman and chief executive officer, and Larry D. Stone, president and chief operating officer, the Diversity Advisory Council meets quarterly to review progress of the Diversity Leadership teams. Topics include: Recruiting and Retention, Supplier Diversity, Multicultural Marketing and Community Outreach, Training and Development, Emerging Trends and Customer Satisfaction.
From the products we sell to the services we offer, diversity and inclusion fosters an environment of varying perspectives. We like it that way, and so do our customers.