Jan 29, 2017

All Hands on Deck: Employees team up to assist Flood Victims

Medtronic Young Professionals partner with All Hands - an international disaster relief organization. Together, they helped those in Louisiana following devastating floods.

Donning a hooded protective jumpsuit, ventilation mask and heavy work gloves – only her smiling eyes are visible as she raises a 20-pound sledge hammer high above her head.

“Not your average day of work,” said Kelli Gutow as she smashes through a wall of mold-infested beams.

Kelli is one of 15 Medtronic employees who recently spent a week volunteering with All Hands Volunteers to provide disaster relief efforts for residents in Denham Springs, Louisiana.

The effort was coordinated by the Twin Cities chapter of the Medtronic Young Professionals (MYP) Employee Resource Group (ERG), and aided by a HR program that grants employees paid time off to help with disaster relief. 

“We are often too far removed from disasters to feel like we have the capacity to help,” Travis Banken, Finance Analyst and MYP Board Member said.  “I find myself lucky to work for a company that maintains a program that not only offers, but encourages its employees to take action when disasters strike.”

In August, more than 24 inches of rain fell in less than three days in Louisiana, leading to unprecedented flooding that left more than 146,000 homes in the Baton Rouge area flooded.

" A heartbreaking reality is that many of these homeowners had moved to this area after living through Hurricane Katrina in order to avoid flooding again. Thousands of families were left with nothing and very few options for help," said All Hands Volunteers Engagement Associate, Victoria Quigley.

The organization focuses on rebuilding in the aftermath of natural disasters.

Volunteers worked about eight hours each day.  All Hands Volunteers provides free communal living space and meals for residential volunteers. At any given time there are 20-150 volunteers on base.  Volunteer stints can be as short as 1-2 days, but many people stay for months.

 “It’s amazing  that strangers from all over the world can come together to serve a community none have visited, but all share the same purpose: unconditional support.  To me that is astonishing, but to All Hands that is a typical Monday,” reflected Banken.

Many of the Medtronic volunteers have vowed to return in 2017 to continue the disaster relief effort.

“My average day at work is spent sitting at a computer, or in meetings,” said Kelsie Crandall, Sales Support Specialist.  “Spending a week getting my hands dirty, learning new skills, and helping others was a wonderful departure. I’ll tell you what though – it’s really made me appreciate my desk job.”