Bringing Nonprofits Together

“ ‘Give me an L! … Give me an O!’ ” The cheer of more than 120 women from Lowe’s filled the Smallwood neighborhood in Charlotte, North Carolina, last May as we kicked off a historic project.

Lowe’s brought together our longtime national partners Habitat for Humanity and Rebuilding Together to revitalize a local community. Lowe’s Heroes from area stores and our corporate offices joined volunteers from Habitat for Humanity Charlotte and Rebuilding Together of Greater Charlotte to build a new home and make improvements to 41 other homes.

Minutes after the Lowe’s cheer died down, the buzz of power saws, scraping of rakes and whirring of weed eaters echoed across the neighborhood as volunteers went to work.

Out behind Annie Mae Whitley’s house, a Lowe’s team was busy building a new washroom and porch. “The one I had, if I had it any longer, I worried my washer and dryer were going to fall through the floor,” said Whitley, who’s lived in her home for 45 years and raised seven children there. “This house was already old when we got here, so you can imagine all that needed to be fixed.”

Her husband passed away recently and things just became too difficult to keep up.

“There’s only so much I could do,” Whitley, 79, said. “There’s no way I could afford this. I can’t even explain how much it means. I thank Lowe’s. I thank them so much. If I could give everyone a hug, I would.”

Across the street, Annie Mae Wallace watched as Lowe’s Heroes landscaped her yard, stained her deck and put in new doors. “You can feel the difference in the neighborhood,” she said. “It’s gorgeous. It’s beautiful.”

Down the road, Creola McAliley was eager to get rid of an old storage shed out back. When she heard a loud bang, she took a peek to see how things were going. “I expected to see three 260-pound men tearing it down,” she said, “and it was three little ladies. But they got the job done. They got rid of that eyesore.”

The event took place during National Women Build Week, an annual Habitat for Humanity initiative that Lowe’s helped launch in 2008 to challenge women to support Habitat during the week of Mother’s Day. As part of Lowe’s Women’s Leadership Series, women from across the company were invited to participate in three Habitat projects – in Long Beach, California, Toms River, New Jersey, and Charlotte. Lowe’s provided grants to support the projects, and hundreds of volunteers brought them to life.

In Charlotte, volunteers from three area Lowe’s stores teamed with the corporate employees and Rebuilding Together and Habitat. By combining our efforts, we were able to broaden the scope of our work and help local families with critical repairs, including kitchen and bath renovations, safety improvements, landscaping and painting.

Amy Gough, executive director of Rebuilding Together of Greater Charlotte, said Lowe’s support and the first-time partnership with Habitat inspired a renewed sense of pride across the neighborhood.

“Our vision to demonstrate the lasting impact two nonprofits can make when working together has generated so much excitement,” she said. “It’s an incredible experience to bring a spark to one of Charlotte’s historic neighborhoods.”