North America’s leading industrial supplier Grainger (NYSE: GWW) and the American Red Cross were honored with the 2011 Corporate Citizenship Award for Best Partnership by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The “Citizens” Award honors excellence in corporate citizenship and civic leadership for initiatives in both the United States and across the world. The United States Chamber of Commerce Business Civic Leadership Center (BCLC) recognized the Red Cross and Grainger for developing the corporate volunteer program, Ready When the Time Comes™ designed to build a network of response volunteers in advance of a disaster.
“Both Grainger and the American Red Cross are in the business of meeting urgent needs,” said Jim Ryan, Chairman, President and CEO of Grainger. “Our joint commitment has engaged not only people of both our organizations but also hundreds of other businesses in a remarkable effort to recruit and train our employees as Red Cross volunteers.”
Currently nearly 14,000-volunteers strong, Ready When the Time Comes™ mobilizes specially trained individuals to help communities impacted by disasters. Today, 460 companies and organizations – from Fortune 500 companies to small businesses -- across 52 cities in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico participate in Ready When the Time Comes™.
“The work of Grainger and the American Red Cross is the definition of a successful corporate/non-profit partnership,” said Stephen Jordan, U.S. Chamber BCLC Founder and Executive Director. “Their support of the Ready When the Time Comes program has made communities throughout the United States safer and more secure in the event of a disaster.”
The Ready When the Time ComesTM nationwide business community has helped increase the American Red Cross volunteer response capacity by 40 percent in just six years in the communities where the program is active. The program was particularly vital during the turbulent 2011 Spring season and during Hurricane Irene, as volunteers staffed shelters and conducted damage assessments from North Dakota to Puerto Rico, and along the east coast.
For example, a group of employees from Grainger served as volunteers in Red Cross shelters in the Memphis area when Mississippi River flood waters overtook the region this spring. The Grainger volunteers helped run the shelter, were there to support residents who needed a sympathetic ear, and even played with kids to give their parents a break. Andriana Allen, Grainger Customer Service Associate, described her experience as life-altering: “It will change your life. It will change the way you see other people; it will knock down barriers. It will change the way you perceive people, just from helping one time.”
In 2001, Grainger joined with the Red Cross to develop Ready When the Time Comes™ in Chicago. The unprecedented events of Hurricane Katrina brought to light the challenges many communities face in times of disaster and the unique opportunities businesses have to help. As the program’s National Founding Sponsor, Grainger has donated more than $13 million to the American Red Cross in cash, product and employee resources for preparedness and response initiatives as well as helped trained nearly 1,400 Ready When the Time ComesTM volunteers.
BCLC is the U.S. Chamber’s resource and voice for business’ social and philanthropic interests, with a mission to advance the positive role of business in society. The Corporate Citizenship Awards exemplify the continued evolution of corporate citizenship, defining its movement from the periphery of business activity to the strategic alignment with the core of a company. The Best Partnership category raises public awareness of worthy social causes by allowing “people’s choice” voting to select the winner. In 2011, more than 44,500 people participated in the voting, setting an all-time record for this five-year-old category.