The Home Depot Foundation’s Celebration of Service: Stories Behind the Numbers

I don’t particularly like numbers, but they seem to be everywhere and we all seem to have so many. Cell numbers, street numbers, passwords, speed limits, years, dates, times. Babies can’t leave the hospital until they’ve been assigned a social security number, nine digits that will be with them for their entire lives.   We all hope to get lucky with the Power Ball.

Some words have even become numbers: “to” and “for” have pretty much surrendered to their numeric homophones. Nothing costs $10, it’s cheaper at just $9.99! We look to the Internet to see how many friends we have; the scale tells us if we are fat; and our credit scores determines whether we can borrow money.

I know numbers aren’t all bad. They help us understand the world. Without them we couldn’t count items or quantify our needs. We’d be hard pressed to tell time. How would we explain how many fingers we have?

We’ve been spending a lot of time talking about numbers lately at The Home Depot Foundation. As we launched our second Celebration of Service, we engaged 2,100 volunteers on one day to repair and improve the homes of 100 veterans. We also completed our pledge to invest $30 million over three years – and we did that in only two – which allowed us to support the repair and modification of more than 4,800 housing units.  We announced that we weren’t stopping there, but would contribute another $50 million in the next three years to continue our mission to ensure every veteran has a safe place to call home.

Right now, I know those numbers inside and out and can count, add, explain and categorize them any way you want. I have more, too, but figured you’d already gotten blurry eyed reading those. Moreover, the numbers are really beside the point. We’ll all forget the numbers soon enough. What I won’t forget, though are the veterans and their families I’ve met during the last two years.

Hundreds of them were Vietnam War veterans like Clyde Kment and Stephanie Blair who received home renovations to allow for increased safety and mobility. Clyde is struggling with the early symptoms of ALS, a degenerative disease that many Vietnam vets have faced, that has made it almost impossible for him to access his split-level home. Stephanie, a Vietnam War nurse, was injured in action leaving her unable to perform some basic maintenance and landscaping at her home. One hundred Team Depot volunteers answered their call of duty to help these two deserving veterans.

Some veterans I’ve met have four limbs and some have fewer; one had 27 surgeries and many had none.  They have much in common though: they each had a reason that they joined the military and a sense of duty, service and purpose; they each gave of themselves for all 300 million Americans; and they each deserve our gratitude and respect.   They’ve earned our help, if they need it.

We’ve been sharing many of their stories, and I hope that you’ll take a minute to watch their videos, review their photos and understand their experiences. Here’s several I particularly like from the day we kicked off Celebration of Service. As you watch, remember, there were 97 more!

When the second annual Celebration of Service campaign officially ends on Veterans Day, more than 300 service projects will have been completed by more than 10,000 Team Depot associate volunteers. The Home Depot’s commitment to doing more for veterans, however, continues throughout the year. For more information on The Home Depot Foundation, click here.

– Kelly Caffarelli, president, The Home Depot Foundation