Earth Day 2021: Sustainability Tips from California Closets Team Members

We’d like to thank Sara Scoville and Michael Swalberg from California Closets for sharing some of their tips for living more environmentally friendly lifestyles. Hope you enjoy this short video!      

Paul Davis: Bringing local businesses together to assist Texas snow and ice storm victims

In the wake of the February 2021 snow and ice storm that caused extensive damage and power loss in parts of Texas, Paul Davis’ Emergency Response Coordinator Scott Brooks felt like he needed to do something to help. Upon learning many residents had to boil snow for drinking water to survive, he decided to launch a water donation drive.

Scott quickly got to work making calls to Jacksonville, Florida-area news stations, churches, grocery stores and beer distributors. Before long, he was receiving water donations from companies including Winn-Dixie. He was also able to secure donated beer trucks from Champion Brands to deliver the water.

“Many of our teams were going to Texas to assist in restoration efforts. One of our serving basics is to help those in need, so organizing a water donation drive felt like the right thing to do,” said Scott.

Scott even received help from the Cajun Navy, a non-profit group of volunteers who deploy to disaster areas throughout the southern United States, to deliver the donated water.

In all, 1373 cases of water were delivered to Houston and Houston area residents.

The donation drive is just one proof point of how Scott embodies our Social Purpose. Each year he organizes a charity golf tournament to raise money and awareness for the National Fallen Firefighters Association. The 2021 event, which is in the active planning stages now, will be scheduled for the end of August or early September and will be held at Eagle Landing in Jacksonville.

LIV North: Donates Outdated Service Vehicles to Homeless Cars

When 14 of LIV North’s service vehicles commercial lives came to an end the leadership team knew they had a useful purpose for someone.

So the leadership team at LIV North coordinated a donation to Homeless Cars, a Canadian charitable foundation that accepts used vehicles and donates the proceeds of their sale to food banks and local food shelters. 

Read more  

California Closets: Transforms a multi-use space at transitional home in Phoenix

For  individuals or families facing a domestic crisis, a next step can be terrifying. So often, people feel paralyzed, not knowing where to turn for help. That’s where Mesa, AZ-based A New Leaf’s Autumn House program comes in.

Autumn House Before

The dated multi-purpose room lacked warmth and personality before the California Closets team arrived

Autumn House After

The California Closets team transformed a dreary space into a warm, inviting area for residents to use

California Closets team responsible for Autumn House remodel

L-R: Aaron Pieratt, PHX Sales Manager; Amy Wenger, Local ASID Chapter President; and Janet Hutchinson, PHX GM. Note: This project was completed prior to COVID

Before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold of the country – and world – California Closets of Phoenix assisted in transforming a multi-use space at Autumn House so that it could better serve its transitional residents.

Phoenix GM Janet Hutchinson and team were converted a social room into a warm, welcoming, and peaceful place for residents to go to for social and life skills activities. This area is used for residents to receive coaching on everything from high school GEDs and college diplomas to employment, healthy lifestyles, and adult self-sufficiency.

In addition, California Closets built out a beautiful new media center where a large screen TV, books, and reference materials could be stored. Hanging barn door sliders were added to conceal the television when not in use.

Autumn House has been providing safe shelter to the community for almost 40 years and was the East Valley’s first domestic violence shelter. It operates 24/7 in a confidential location, accepting survivors all times of the year.

“We are so proud to have been a part of this amazing project,” said Janet, “and to support men and women in our community who have been affected by domestic violence.”

 Janet and her team display what it truly means to design better lives, and bring California Closet’s CREDO to life. 

California Closets: Tennessee Team Kicks Off the New Year with Service

California Closets TN food drive

L-R: Adam Edwards (Design Consultant); Tom Maline (Director of Operations); Jeff Costa (Plan Engineer); Lana Reed (Sales Manager); Kurt Schuterman (owner); Nick Aprile (Installer).

To show their appreciation to the community for supporting their business, team members from California Closets Nashville volunteered at the Second Harvest Food Bank following their Kick Off Meeting earlier this month.

Every day, Second Harvest needs help to sort and pack food donations, as well as prepare backpacks for hungry kids. The group ended up sorting nearly 5,000 pounds of food – enough to feed 3,745 people in need!

The Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee has been operating for 43 years with the purpose of providing a central distribution center for companies, groups, and individuals who wished to help provide food for hungry people. The Nashville team has made it an annual tradition to give their time to Second Harvest.

CC TN Owner Kurt Schusterman adds, “A significant part of our culture at California Closets Nashville is to utilize our Time, Talents, and Treasures to give back to our community. Helping out at Second Harvest is a wonderful way for our team to work on something outside of our usual work environment while making an impact for those in need.”

We salute this inspiring way Kurt and his team started the year. You are truly leading with the California Closets Credo.

Poolman and All Florida Pools Provide Necessities to Homeless Citizens

During the recent holiday season, team members at Poolman and All Florida Pools came up with a novel way to make a difference for homeless members of their communities.  Technicians in Florida, Phoenix, Tucson, San Diego, Texas and Las Vegas were given bags and backpacks containing essential supplies including personal hygiene items, socks, water and certain proteins for food. During their routes, they distributed these bags to homeless community members.
“I have always believed that it is better to Give… Give… Give… before you Get… Get… Get…! Having served on a board that serves the homeless population, I gained first hand knowledge of the critical state that this group lives in on a day-to-day basis,” said President, Residential Aquatics, Vic Valentine. “These are not just homeless people; they are sons, daughters, mothers, and fathers. What a better idea than to rally the troops and not only give to individuals in need, but also serve together for a greater purpose than ourselves. Serving the homeless is a great life lesson in humility as well!”
In total, 672 bags were distributed, making our homeless community members more comfortable and showing them that people care about their wellbeing.

TLS: Holiday “Cariboulation” Food Drive Exceeds Goals

LS CariboulationTLS recently concluded its Caring Celebration, or “Holiday Cariboulation,” to collect food for local food banks.

The team TRIPLED its goal of donating 500 items —  collecting 2442 food items/dollar donations for local food banks. TLS generously matched that number and is donating $2,442 to a local food bank. When it came time to deliver the items, Santa himself, joined by his favorite “reindog,” helped distribute the donated food.

We’d like to thank everyone for their participation in this great cause. Now more than ever food banks need support and this is a wonderful way to #FirstServeOthers.

TLS Cariboulation 2

Paul Davis: Supporting Autism Awareness is a Family Affair

For Kali Freeland, supporting Autism awareness is personal. Kali’s cousin, Mandy Conner, founded Northeast Florida Advocates for Autism and Related Disabilities. Mandy started her organization to raise awareness and funds for families in NE Florida with Autism and Related Disabilities. Mandy’s daughter Katelyn loves riding in golf carts, which inspired Mandy’s idea to organize a Golf Cart Poker Run for Autism. 

Saturday, September 26th was the 7th Annual Katelyn’s Golf Cart Poker Run for Autism.  Participating golf carts visit 5 stops around the Pirates Woods area of Fernandina. Police blocked the streets for 173 participating golf carts this year! At each stop, participants would draw one poker card and compete for the best hand. All cards / scoresheets were safely collected, and the winner was announced at the end of the day.

The event raised $35,000 this great cause! 

“I am always proud to volunteer at this event with my family,” said Kali. “This year, I was proud to include Paul Davis slap bracelets in the event bags and represent our brand at this wonderful event!”

Texas Couple Loses Everything in a Terrifying Fire

One minute you are sound asleep, and the next you hear a loud boom. You awake to the sounds of a stormy night and attribute the boom to a lightning strike or a loud clap of thunder. When you look outside and do not see anything concerning you try to go back to sleep. Moments later, you begin to hear the sound of smoke alarms going off down the hallway of your apartment building. In your grogginess, you tell yourself this is not unusual, they often go off when neighbors burn toast, and it was the wee hours of the morning, after all.  Soon, you hear smoke alarms coming from the other side of the building and are panicked by the real possibility that this is much more serious than a thunderstorm. You open the door to see what is going on and the stench of smoke confirms your worst fears. Your apartment building is on fire.

Burning apartment bulding. Photo credit AshtonThis terrifying scenario is was what Brandon Camfield and his girlfriend Callie Thompson, employees of Poolman outside of Dallas, TX awoke to in the early morning hours of August 30, 2020.

They quickly gathered what they could –wallet, keys, purse, phones and cat – and bolted down the stairs.  When they looked at the building, they could see a fire raging directly above their third floor apartment. Realizing that the smoke alarms in the lower floors may not have been triggered, the couple ran door to door, banging as hard and loudly as they could to waken their neighbors and help them safely escape the burning building.

The couple watched in disbelief as fire crews fought the growing blaze.

Dozens are displaced by the fire

Eighty-four of the 86 units were occupied at the time, and miraculously, all residents and pets were safely evacuated.

After the fire. Photo credit Matt McNew/WFAASoon, the American Red Cross arrived and teams of volunteers assisted residents with everything from temporary housing to clothing and food. Fortunately for Brandon and Callie, they had family nearby who offered them a place to stay.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, though it is believed to have been started by a lightning strike to the rooftop directly above Brandon and Callie’s apartment. The weight of the water used to extinguish the fire caused the floor of their apartment to fall through to the leasing office on the first floor. Brandon and Callie lost everything except for the clothes on their backs. The material possessions can be replaced but sadly, many irreplaceable family mementos were also lost in the fire.

“Watching I knew it was going to be bad, and I assumed we would have water and smoke damage. I never expected to hear that all of our belongings fell through to the first floor,” said Brandon. “The building is considered structurally unsound so we have not been able to get in to see if anything is salvageable.”

The FirstService Relief Fund helps the couple get back on their feet

The couple applied for a grant from the FirstService Relief Fund under the natural disaster category and Emergency Assistance Foundation, the Relief Fund administrator, worked with them to ensure quick approval and payment of their grant.

“We are very glad we had secured renters insurance when we moved into our apartment. This, coupled with the grant we received from the FirstService Relief Fund, has been so helpful in getting us back on our feet,” said Brandon. “I’m not someone who ever wants to ask for help, so this has been very difficult for me. I am blown away by the kindness and generosity people have shown us, and appreciate all of my colleagues who have donated to the Relief Fund.”

Brandon and Callie have been staying with family since the fire and saving for a down payment on a home they can call their own.

Brandon and Callie’s story is proof that unforeseen disasters can happen to any of us, at any time. That’s why the FirstService Relief Fund exists, to help our people during their time of need. If you have suffered a personal financial hardship, or know a colleague who has, we encourage you to apply for a grant.


A Toothache Reveals a Potentially Life Threatening Condition

As is the case for many people throughout the world, 2020 has been a tough year for Cole Stewart. When the pandemic hit earlier this year, the restaurant where he works as a chef shut down, meaning Cole, like thousands of other Americans, suddenly found himself out of work. A few months later, he suffered another blow when he tragically lost his father to suicide.

Cole, Wednesday and Ariel

Cole Stewart is pictured with his daughter Ariel and wife Wednesday

This summer, the 31-year-old husband and father to a five-year-old daughter, began experiencing pain in his lower jaw, which he assumed was a toothache. When the pain worsened, and began interfering with his ability to perform day-to-day activities, he scheduled an appointment to see the dentist.

He was stunned when x-rays revealed that the source of his pain wasn’t a toothache, but a mass in his lower mandible. A mass that needed to be removed immediately and sent for biopsy to determine if it was cancerous.

Testing and treatment comes with a hefty price tag

Cole did not have medical insurance and the cost of the procedure to remove and biopsy the mass was more than he could afford without a source of income. The dentist required a 50% deposit to remove the mass, which Cole was unable to pay. Thinking about the worst-case scenario, that the mass might be cancerous and would require invasive treatment and extensive (and expensive) reconstructive surgery to rebuild his jaw, only added to his stress and worry.

Cole Stewart and his mother Kristi Beauchamp

Cole and his mom, Kristi

Fortunately, Cole’s mother, Kristi Beauchamp, works as the Office Manager at Poolman in Texas, which is a FirstService subsidiary. Kristi, who contributes to the FirstService Relief Fund through automatic payroll deductions, immediately applied for a grant.

The FirstService Relief Fund provides monetary support

Because the FirstService Relief Fund provides monetary grants to those suffering personal financial hardship, which includes hardships brought on by the serious illnesses of immediate family members, Kristi’s application was approved. The entire process was very quick and she received funds right away, allowing Cole to schedule his procedure. Doctors removed a coin sized mass, which, to everyone’s relief, was benign. Cole’s life quickly returned to normal, and within six weeks of his initial appointment, he was happy to be back to work, and even happier to enjoy time with his family without worrying about the future.

“The FirstService Relief Fund provided a shining light for my family during a very dark time. I was amazed by how easy the process was to apply, and how quickly my application was approved,” said Kristi. “It almost sounds too good to be true. I encourage anyone who is facing a personal financial hardship to apply for a grant. This is an amazing program and I’m proud to work for a company that cares so deeply for its team members.”
Cole’s story is a poignant reminder that any of our lives can change in the blink of an eye. We encourage all of our people to familiarize themselves with the FirstService Relief Fund in the event they, or someone they work with, might benefit from a grant.