Employee Heidi Monge recently took part in Community Corps, a special Gap Foundation-related volunteer opportunity. This year, employees went to New Orleans to help build a home through Habitat for Humanity. Here Heidi shares her experience.
We arrived in New Orleans from around the world; US, Canada, Japan, Korea, China, France, Ireland.
Meeting for the first time we learned immediately two things we all have in common: A love for community and a love for Gap Inc.
The first day on site we saw only the frame of a house. We had no idea what we were going to be doing but that didn't faze anyone. Everyone jumped right in! We had people on the roofs, using power tools and hammering like no one thought possible.
It was hot and humid and every day you heard, "Do you need a water? Did you reapply sunscreen? You should take a break." You could also hear people talking about their jobs, where they were from, their families and how they volunteer back home.
Everyone looked out for each other and we barely knew one another. I think that is what amazed me the most. Here I am, eight feet in the air on a ladder and the person holding the ladder was someone I didn't know, who didn't speak my language, yet I had no fear. I was certainly not alone; many people conquered their fears and pushed themselves in ways they did not think was possible.
In two and a half days, we were able to complete the roof, install a door, wrap the house and install all windows. We turned the house into a home and did it with determination, commitment and respect for each other.
On the last night we were asked to summarize the trip in one word. Tangible, amazing, hammered, teamwork, grateful, inspired—these were just a few I recall, though I think it’s impossible to capture the trip in one word. But the experience does remind me of the compassion I see through the actions of my co-workers and words of inspiration from our co-founders, Doris and Don Fisher, who always encouraged us to “do more than just sell clothes.”
We put a lot of sweat and even more heart into building a home for a stranger. I know each of us left a part of our hearts in that house and in the great city of New Orleans.