Business

It’s Time to Thank Teachers Across America

Most of us can recall a teacher who helped us learn, change and grow. For me, there were several, but there’s one who particularly stands out: my mom.

Her resume alone commands respect: She’s taught kindergarten at a rural elementary school since the 1970s. That means that every year, she not only ensures that students learn the basics like numbers and letters – she also shapes a gaggle of fresh-eyed, boundlessly energetic 5-year-olds into polite and productive members of society.

For some students, she may be the first educational influence they’ve experienced, and she takes that responsibility very seriously. When I lived at home, I remember her working countless nights not just grading papers, but also building and creating projects and materials that would give her class an extra boost. All that required was her own extra time, which she didn’t have much of, being a single mother to my sister and me.

So when Walmart announced Teacher Appreciation Week, I couldn’t wait to tell her about it. Through the program, which is happening now through July 31, she and other educators across the U.S. can receive 10% savings on classroom supplies. Over the years, going the extra mile for her class has sometimes meant digging into her own pocket, so I knew she would appreciate the discount. “Every little bit helps,” she replied when I shared the news.

This is the first year for Teacher Appreciation Week, but Walmart has been showing its support of educators for many years. The Walmart Foundation has a Teacher Rewards program, where all Sam’s Club, Walmart stores and distribution centers nationwide give gift cards to local schools to help teachers stock their classrooms. And for the third year, our online tool Classrooms by Walmart provides a convenient way for teachers to share supply lists with new students – and even create classroom wish lists of their own.

I’m proud that after all these years, families in my small town still request to have their kids enrolled in my mom’s class. There are stories like hers in schools in every state, and it’s the perfect time to let those teachers know how big of an impact they’ve truly had.

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Community

Helping Women Find Their Strong Suits Through Dress for Success

On New Year’s Eve 2014, Samantha pulled into a hotel in Northwest Arkansas, leaving an abusive relationship and destructive lifestyle behind in Texas.

Alone in a new state, with just her daughter, Samantha had no real plan in place, but she did have a goal: building a better life for herself. Two weeks after arriving and still seeking a job, Samantha heard about Dress for Success, a global nonprofit organization that provides professional attire, a network of support and the career development tools to help disadvantaged women thrive in work and in life.

In 2012, knowing that the local poverty rate was nearly 19% and the unemployment rate was 5.7%, several Walmart home office associates strongly believed that Northwest Arkansas was an important location for the organization's first affiliate in the state. Now nearly three years old, the mission for Dress for Success Northwest Arkansas remains the same: to help women like Samantha find financial independence as they work their way out of negative situations.

Dress For Success Volunteer Helping Client

Marie Paterson, a Walmart human resources associate who is a key leader with Dress for Success Northwest Arkansas, told me, “Volunteering with a local affiliate is especially meaningful because we’re making a difference right here. Our clients are becoming confident and equipped to raise not only their standard of living but also their families’, and they are becoming role models for their children, their friends and communities.”

When Samantha left Texas, friends and family weren’t the only things she left behind. She left behind the clothes and possessions that would present her as professional and hirable in interviews that another local agency had helped her find. Beyond that, she had no idea what to expect from Dress for Success.

Woman Standing at Desk Looking Through Papers

“The actual experience at Dress for Success was so much more powerful than I could have expected,” Samantha said. “Not only did they provide me with one-on-one attention for my suiting, but they did a mock interview and gave me feedback on areas to improve.” Later, Samantha said, she felt prepared and confident enough to ace her interview for her dream job: becoming a key member of the team at a local car dealership.

Now in a much healthier situation, Samantha is looking to the future and wants to be a “giant success” in the auto industry. She is actively looking for ways to reach out to women in situations similar to the one she left in Texas to show them that anything is possible. 

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Business

Idea, Action, Impact: 3 Ways Walmart International Associates are Making a Difference

Everyone has ideas, and at Walmart International, I’m lucky to be surrounded by amazing people with ideas that help make our business better. But these ideas are only valuable if they turn into actions.

Every year at our annual Shareholders Meeting, I’m inspired to meet some of our most innovative associates who are actively working to benefit our customers and our stores. This year, these three stories stood out for me.

Walmart Canada
Not only are our associates creative, they also demonstrate tremendous integrity. In our store in Sarnia, Canada, a couple was shopping for Christmas gifts to give their grandchildren. At the register, the couple couldn’t find the envelope of cash they’d saved to buy the presents. Disappointed, the couple feared the money was gone.

Walmart Canada Associate Ephie

The couple was thrilled when Ephie Smith, a morning cashier, found the money and turned it in. When offered a reward, Ephie responded, “I don’t need a reward. I just hope you have a good Christmas.” I’m sure Ephie was the talk of their Christmas dinner. Great job, Ephie. 

Asda

One thing I’ve learned in my years as a retailer is that more often than not, the simplest solution is the best solution. I’m all for a no-fuss, uncomplicated, let’s get the job done approach.

A few years ago at our United Kingdom retailer Asda, our customers rated us last when it came to a quick and easy checkout experience. We began investing in checkout line-busting technology, but a quicker fix was just around the corner – thanks to one of our innovative associates. In our Nuneaton, England, store, our associate Paul Hedley had the simple but effective idea to use a sign shaped like a finger, which acts as a traffic control management system to help guide customers to empty checkouts and the shortest line. The results were dramatic: Within three short months, customers reported that line service at Asda was ranked first place.

Regrettably, Paul passed away last year as a result of a long-term illness, but his creativity and problem solving left a wonderful legacy:  Today, the low-tech pointy stick is being introduced in other Walmart markets around the world.

Walmart India
And at Walmart India, associates are improving the lives of others. Deepak Gandhi, along with team members Abhay and Anoop, was inspired by the Society for Child Development’s “Trash to Cash” initiative, which provides opportunities for differently-abled women and men while creating consumer products from waste. The group collects old flowers from temples and hotels, and creates organic colored powder solutions, Gulal, used to celebrate Holi — one of the most popular festivals in India. Our initial order for one ton of “Holi Herbal Gulal” helped provide a livelihood for 45 women with disabilities.

Walmart India Associates

The program grew 150% in 2013 alone, and has been so successful that the Department of Environment in Delhi now supports the initiative and provides vans for collection of waste flowers. As part of Walmart’s commitment to Women’s Economic Empowerment, Abhay and Anoop have provided guidance to SFCD Director Madhumita Puri for the last three years, helping to strengthen the organization, increase its capacity and expand product offerings. Hats off to Deepak, Abhay and Anoop.

Thank You
At Walmart, there’s no doubt our associates are an integral part of our global success.  They make us a better business. While Shareholders Week is an official financial meeting, my favorite bit is getting to meet our associates from all over the world who show creativity, integrity and dedication to helping others—it is a privilege to work with all of you.

Interested in joining our team of 2.2 million Walmart associates around the world? Check out our latest job opportunities here.

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Community

Walmart #NWAChampionship Player Gaby Lopez: ‘The Impossible Can Be Possible’

This weekend, University of Arkansas golfer Gaby Lopez will enjoy her third opportunity to join LPGA players on the greens at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship. Here, she shares her thoughts on the tournament – as well as pursuing her dreams on and off the course.

WMT: You took up golf at age 4 while growing up in Mexico. What drew you to the sport? 

Lopez: My dad introduced me to golf. It all started as a fun game, nothing serious. A couple of years later, Lorena Ochoa became the No. 1 women’s golfer in the world. That was when I knew that the impossible can be possible, and golf became my passion. 

WMT: Tell us about your journey to today, where you’re a standout on the University of Arkansas golf team.

Lopez: Coming to the University of Arkansas has been the best decision I've made. I've grown as a golfer but more important as a person. I'm 100% certain that I have the right people around me, like Coach Shauna (Estes-Taylor) and Coach Mike (Adams), by my side that will always push me to be my best. 

Gaby Lopez smiles on a golf course during the LPGA Tour in Rogers, Arkansas

WMT: During this week’s event, you’re playing in front of hometown fans. What is that like? How does it compare to other tournaments?

Lopez: This tournament makes me feel like I’m at home. The Northwest Arkansas and Razorback communities have opened their doors to me and my family in a very special way. It is a huge honor to be able to represent my school and my country at the same time. Calling the Hogs with all the fans on No. 17 is one of my favorite golf moments - the energy is amazing. I feel blessed to have this opportunity for the third time in my collegiate career. 

WMT: Empowering women to recognize their full potential is a longtime priority for Walmart. You’re certainly a role model for other youth – do you have any advice for young girls on not just pursuing professional sports, but succeeding in whatever they do?

Lopez: My advice would be to always do and pursue what interests you, whether that is golf, sports or anything else. Discipline and passion are two characteristics I think a person needs to be successful, and I think believing in yourself is the most powerful tool of all. 

WMT: What are your own dreams, and what do you envision as your next step?

Lopez: I think everyone who plays the game dreams of being the best player ever and I certainly want to be the best player I can be. But I think more importantly I want to be remembered for what I did off the golf course. I want to finish out my senior season with the Razorbacks and enjoy every minute of the team atmosphere – that is a unique experience in golf. After graduation, I’ll start work on earning my Tour card and see where that journey takes me.    

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Opportunity

7 Fathers, 7 Sons, 1 Distribution Center

Lots of people use the term “work family” casually, but in Marcy, N.Y., it’s quite the literal thing. At one Walmart distribution center, seven fathers and seven sons work alongside each other, all as Walmart truck drivers.

Having your parent as a coworker could be a nuisance for some, but for many of these sons, it’s a privilege. Watch them describe why they’ve looked up to their fathers for years, and why they ultimately chose to pursue the same road with Walmart logistics. 

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