Community

How DisasterRecovery360 is Revolutionizing Relief Efforts

Editor’s Note: Good360’s disaster recovery platform is playing a major role in relief efforts for those affected by the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. Read more here and learn how you can help at good360.org/flint.

As a director at Good360 – a nonpartisan nonprofit working to connect companies that have products with nonprofits that need them – getting out of bed in the morning is never a difficult task. In 2014 alone, we distributed 4 million diapers, 10,000 mattresses and 8,000 cartons of clothing, shoes and accessories to hundreds of thousands of people via our network of more than 40,000 nonprofits in communities across the U.S.

Our work is about making a difference in the lives of people in need. In doing so, Good360 has provided relief in response to nearly every natural disaster since the turn of the century – Hurricane Katrina included. It’s truly amazing to see how far we’ve come as a nation in building disaster preparedness and resiliency, but there’s always room for improvement. In fact, our eyes were opened to the mountain of opportunity that still exists when we learned the following disaster-related philanthropy stats:

  • A lack of coordinated communication creates chaos, resulting in 60% of donated goods ending up in landfills.
  • The wrong goods are often sent at the wrong time, preventing critical supplies from reaching the people who need them.
  • Because 80% of all donations occur within the first six weeks after a disaster, a lack of sustained giving impedes and delays recovery of communities.

After we let those numbing statistics sink in a bit, we asked ourselves a question. What if technology existed to allow our network of nonprofits – which range from food banks and after-school programs to advocacy groups and veterans organizations – to use a mobile app to communicate the specific needs of the communities they serve in real time in the days, months and years following a natural or man-made disaster?

A few short years ago, that question represented an idea. But through continuous research, trial and error – and financial support from organizations like Walmart and the UPS Foundation – we’ve turned that idea into reality. With DisasterRecovery360, we’ve developed a new technology platform to help ensure the right donated goods get to the right people at the right time until the affected communities are fully recovered. The online platform: 

  • Provides nonprofits working at the site of a disaster with access to a free DisasterRecovery360 mobile app, enabling them to immediately begin identifying their product needs
  • Publishes those needs to the DisasterRecovery360 platform so companies can learn quickly how they can help disaster relief efforts
  • Updates companies as needs change over time
  • Shares stories about how donations are used and how they’re helping
  • Enables Good360 to store, stage and deliver critically needed goods to the right place at the right time through its network of logistics, warehousing and distribution partners

In addition to communicating real-time needs to companies, the tool also aims to help minimize unsolicited donations by connecting individuals with nonprofit organizations in their own communities that have specific needs.

Our excitement is through the roof because this platform has the potential to revolutionize disaster philanthropy in the U.S. – and eventually, around the world. But, just because the tool exists doesn't mean the problem will be solved overnight. On Aug. 21, we’ll be demonstrating DisasterRecovery360 in New Orleans, and following with trainings in Miami, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and Wichita, Kan. We’ll remain relentless in our efforts to market and train organizations across the country on the tool, because ensuring the right products end up in the right places expedites the recovery of communities.

And that’s something we can all rally around.    

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Business

Meet the Families Behind Our Grass-Fed Beef

They say you are what you eat.

When we shop to feed our families, we’re especially concerned with what’s in the food we’re buying and where it came from. Thanks to two cattle ranching families who came together years ago to farm grass-fed beef in Utah and Wyoming, we’re able to provide this option – our Marketside Butcher brand – at over 2,000 of our stores.

It’s important to do business with people who care about their customers as much as we do. Working with Jones Creek, that care is obvious. The Crandall family has been farming cattle on their ranches in Utah and Wyoming for over five generations, and they’re committed to a product that’s as natural as it is tasty.

Check out this video to see why they believe in producing beef with no added hormones or antibiotics, but lots of passion and care.

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Community

‘The Love in the Air is Thicker Than the Smoke’

When Christel Antone went to sleep on Oct. 10, she was worried about her sick grandchild. It wasn’t the only thing on her mind.

For the last two days, she and her neighbors had been threatened by the fires raging throughout Sonoma County, California. A mass evacuation was underway.

At 1 a.m., Christel – a Walmart store co-manager in Rohnert Park, California – woke up to a crying baby and the unmistakable stench of smoke. Something was on fire. Around her house, everything seemed normal. She looked out the windows of her Windsor, California home: To the west, she saw her local Walmart; to the east, mountains. No fire yet – only smoke.

But the fire was coming.

“At that moment, I felt nothing but fear,” Christel said. “Others in the area were being evacuated. So I started getting ready to leave.”

Within two hours, Christel and her husband, two children and grandchild were packed tight into their cars. At 3 a.m., they were part of a mass evacuation – one of thousands of families headed south. They were on the way to her parents’ home in Rohnert Park, normally a 15-minute drive. It took them three hours to reach safety.

Meanwhile, assistant manager Casey Wolven-Scott stood looking at a sea of cars in the Rohnert Park Walmart parking lot. Hundreds of evacuees had only what was on their backs when the time came to leave: kids without shoes, their parents in pajamas. Every one of them tired, afraid and not sure if they would have a home to come back to.

Casey stepped further outside. The highway, which she could see from the store, was flooded with headlights. “Fire truck after fire truck after fire truck was speeding north, up the highway,” Casey said. “Heading south, it was bumper to bumper traffic.”

She decided she had to help her neighbors. “I was one of two people who could run a register,” Casey said. But she had to open the store so people could get basics and use the restroom. Her shift, which had started at 8 p.m. the night before, didn’t end until lunchtime the next day. She saw to it that her store was there for people at this desperate time of need.

A few miles north of the store, at Elsie Allen High School, Christel spent the next day volunteering for those looking for shelter. “We kept hearing alerts and needs for first responders, so we gathered everything we could from my parents’ house, clothes and food, and took it to the high school,” Christel said.

Despite being driven away from her own home, Christel knew she had to help. “At that point you lose all the selfishness and what you’re going through to help others,” she said.

Step by step, Casey and Christel helped with recovery efforts. Christel and her family were able to return to their home within a week. Associates at stores throughout Sonoma County have continued to serve their communities through the fires, in addition to preparing for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Christmas.

“Since then, we’ve been trying to keep in stock what our customers need — housewares, socks, pillows, sleeping bags – these things keep coming in and coming off the shelf right away,” Casey said.

Christel and Casey were two of hundreds of associates who helped pull off a recent episode of The TODAY Show’s “Getting to the Heart of Christmas” series. In recent years, Walmart has had the opportunity to work with NBC to help deliver Christmas for families in need, particularly like the 10 families affected the Sonoma County wild fires earlier this year.

The event brought hundreds of associates, themselves affected by the fire, together to serve their community.

“Everyone here knows someone affected by fire,” Christel said. “Being able to work for a company that’s making a difference in the community, and being part of it personally, is rewarding.”

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Innovation

The Opioid Epidemic Has Changed Safe Disposal of Prescriptions

The opioid epidemic is as serious of a drug crisis as America’s ever seen. It’s so deep-reaching that nearly every community has felt its effects.

And while prescription pain medications are an appropriate treatment option for some, the reality is that unchecked supplies in the public pose a significant health concern. Just as prescription drugs should be prescribed carefully, they must be stored and disposed of carefully.

Providing a means for proper drug disposal is a fundamental way Walmart can help. Today, we announced a new, free, convenient solution for responsible opioid disposal, DisposeRx. It’s a first-of-its-kind solution and I’m so proud of our team and the work they’ve done to bring this simple means of disposal to our patients.

We know the person who was prescribed a prescription opioid medication isn’t always the only one who is at risk for misuse. This innovative option for medication disposal will help keep families and communities healthy, and DisposeRx is one more way we can make a difference.

Here are a few more reasons why we wanted to help with this critical issue.

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Business

CEO Doug McMillon's Note to Associates on Tax Savings

Happy New Year! I hope you and your families had a great holiday season. Thank you so much for all your efforts to serve our customers during our busiest time of the year. I know there were many smiling faces on Christmas morning and throughout the season because of you. Thank you for serving them so well and for helping each other to do it as a team.

We’ve got some really good news to share today. As you know, the President and Congress have approved a lower business tax rate. Given these changes, we have an opportunity to accelerate a few pieces of our investment plan. We plan to continue investing in you, in our customers through lower prices, and in our future--especially in technology to help improve your jobs and the experience for our customers.

So, we’re pleased to tell you that we’re raising our starting wage to $11 an hour for Walmart U.S., Sam’s Club, Supply Chain, eCommerce and Home Office hourly associates effective in February.

We’re also providing a one-time bonus to hourly associates that pays a larger amount the longer you’ve been with our company. Associates that don’t benefit from the new starting wage increase are eligible for the bonus and it will range from $200 to $1,000 depending on your length of service. As an associate who’s been with the company more than 25 years, I understand the value of experience and we all appreciate those of you that have helped build this company over the years.

I’m also excited to tell you that we’re making an important change to benefits by expanding our paid leave policy to provide full-time hourly associates with 10 weeks of paid maternity leave and six weeks of paid parental leave. This expanded parental leave also applies to salaried associates and to parents who adopt. We will also contribute $5,000 to the cost of adoption. I recently heard from two associates on this topic—one through an open door note and one at a town hall. Both pointed out how limited our policy was for adoptive parents so we’re happy to be addressing that concern now. Families are a priority to us and connecting with and caring for a new family member is obviously important.

As we look to the future and how we’ll win with customers, we’ll be assessing what additional investments are needed, and we’ll make those decisions with you, our customers, and our shareholders in mind.

Thanks again for everything you do. I’m proud of our progress and we have momentum. Let’s build on that in 2018!

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