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Standing together

Erickson Living establishes relief fund to aid Eagle’s Trace employees in Houston recovering from Hurricane Harvey

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November 8th, 2017
Nicole Williams’ townhome flooded during Hurricane Harvey. Williams, left, pictured with Eagle’s Trace resident Jane Weaver, works as a home support aide and is among the community’s 220-plus employees impacted by the storm.

Nicole Williams’ townhome flooded during Hurricane Harvey. Williams, left, pictured with Eagle’s Trace resident Jane Weaver, works as a home support aide and is among the community’s 220-plus employees impacted by the storm.

 

The floodwaters were steadily rising in Nicole Williams’ townhome when she called the Texas National Guard for help.

“The water was up to my waist,” says Williams, a home support aide who works at Eagle’s Trace, the Erickson Living community in West Houston. “I knew we needed to evacuate.”

As Hurricane Harvey swept across the Texas Gulf Coast, unleashing a torrent of water, Williams, her nine-year-old son, her father, and their dog were among the more than 10,000 Houstonians evacuated to the George R. Brown Convention Center, set up as a temporary shelter.

“We lost everything,” says Williams. “Our home, vehicle, furniture, pictures—it’s all gone.”

More than 220 of the 500-plus employees who work at Eagle’s Trace were impacted by the storm, losing homes, vehicles, or personal belongings in the relentless havoc wrought by Harvey.

As the floodwaters subsided, Erickson Living Chief Executive Officer Alan Butler, Chief Operating Officer Debra Doyle, and Senior Vice President of Human Resources Joseph Machicote traveled to Eagle’s Trace to support residents and staff.

“You don’t realize the full impact of the storm until you see it firsthand,” says Butler. “It’s affecting every area of life—roads, schools, businesses.”

And while Eagle’s Trace did not experience any flooding or power outages during Hurricane Harvey, many of its employees are struggling to find a new normal in the aftermath.

“I spent two nights with my son and my dad at the convention center,” says Williams. “Then the leadership team at Eagle’s Trace offered us an apartment where we could stay until we got back on our feet. That’s when I started to feel normal again. It was like coming back to family.”

Williams says returning to work helped take her mind off her circumstances.

“This is more than a job to me,” she says. “I love working with our residents.”

Eagle’s Trace Employee Relief Fund

To assist Eagle’s Trace staff members and their families through the recovery process, Erickson Living established the Eagle’s Trace Employee Relief Fund, which opened with a $2,000,000 donation—$1,000,000 from Erickson Living and $1,000,000 from Chairman Jim Davis.

“Our residents and our employees are our top priority,” says Butler. “As a company, there was never any hesitation to give. It’s our job to step up and help when times are tough.”

Four associate executive directors from Erickson Living communities across the enterprise—Kathy Dilger from Wind Crest in Colorado, Tom Channon from Ashby Ponds in Virginia, Paula Digerness from Seabrook in New Jersey, and Fred Moschetta from Fox Run in Michigan—traveled to Houston post-Harvey to conduct interviews with employees who suffered losses. Their efforts are helping to distribute the relief fund as effectively as possible.

“Our mission as a company shone through our Eagle’s Trace employees during the storm,” says Butler. “Many of them stayed overnight at the community to ensure the well-being of our residents while facing uncertain conditions at home. Those selfless acts aren’t lost on us.”

As news of the relief fund spread via the company’s social media accounts—facebook.com/erickson living and on Twitter and Instagram @ericksonliving—residents and employees from Erickson Living communities across the nation responded with pledges to the fund.

“All over the company, people are thinking of Houston,” says Doyle. “Eagle’s Trace staff showed strength in the toughest times, and now the Erickson Living family wants to do what we can to help.”

“It’s an amazing display of human interaction to see everyone working as one unit, pitching in to help each other move forward,” adds Machicote.

‘Stronger than ever’

Stephen Aigner, executive director at Eagle’s Trace, says the outpouring of support from Erickson Living employees and community members has been instrumental in the recovery process.

“I’m incredibly proud to be part of the greater Erickson Living family that has provided tremendous support to us in Houston,” says Aigner. “We’ll come back stronger than ever.”

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