Guest blog by Stanley Brizz, Eckerd Kids Director of Hi-Five & Community Services.
Brevard County is in the process of getting our Raising Hope room fit for operation by installing shelving and hanger racks in place of the old particle board cabinets that needed repair or replacing. We have funds from a small community grant from Boeing that has a line item that could help cover some of the cost. To save money on the cost of materials that the licensed contractor quoted us, we reached out to a local Lowe’s which offered to provide materials to us at cost – a HUGE discount. Since there was one item that the handyman/contractor said we should obtain from Home Depot because of price, we also spoke to a local Home Depot. The Home Depot could not offer items at cost, but provided us a $25.00 gift certificate.
This Sunday evening I went to purchase the items. At first, things were challenging at check-out. After two hours, we had carts and trolleys full of lumber, paint and hardware … to name a few things. Although I had a printout of the discounted work order, the cashier could not pull it up in the computer. A manager came to assist, and after 15 more minutes she was able to find the at-cost work order we created with another manager earlier that week. We discovered that the items we thought we needed from Home Depot could, in fact, be a better deal from Lowe’s if they could work with the price. The only issue was that those items were not a part of our original non-profit at-cost request from Lowe’s. Still, I inquired.
The same manager from earlier came to assist me at the counter, visibly weary from it being a long Sunday night. She tersely asked what the issue was and I explained. I then told her how important this project was and how limited our funds were. After I explained the purpose of the Raising Hope room and how it would help foster youths as well as homeless youths, her mouth opened in surprise. She told me she had just gotten goose bumps. She explained that earlier in her life things were not great in her family. She had given her mother custody of her little daughter while she got her own life together. After some time had passed, things were better for her but her daughter still resided with her mother. One evening, her mother suffered a medical problem which required hospitalization. Her daughter was removed from her mother’s home, since no one was present there at that time to care for her. The police then phoned her to inform her of the situation, and that her daughter was being brought to her.
When her daughter arrived, she had a large black trash bag with her.
She asked her daughter, “What’s in that bag?”
Her daughter replied, “All of my things, mom.”
She said that the visual of seeing her daughter holding a trash bag of her belongings affected her deeply. She quickly removed her daughter’s items from the trash bag and gave her a new suitcase and bought her new clothes, making sure she knew she always had a place and a place for her things. She could only imagine this happening to scores of children removed from their homes.
She was so moved by Eckerd Raising Hope project that she said she would not only steeply reduce the cost of the additional items, she also would give us credit for the $25 gift certificate from Home Depot (which Lowe’s normally could do anyway). But then she handed back the $25 gift certificate, saying:
“Keep this in case you want to get something from Home Depot. Your program is AWESOME. I can’t believe that a program like that exists. How can I donate and how can I help?!”
I gave her my card and explained further how we could partner to help.
It has been a long Sunday night, be what an amazing encounter. We have made a new community partner, professionally and personally, and saved about $500 in materials for this project altogether!