How Envirospec is Helping Out-of-Work Heroes on the Homefront
by Allison Hester
The proposed “Hiring Heroes Act” has recently brought national attention to the growing problem of veterans who return from well-paid deployments to find themselves out of work.
According to a December 17, 2011 article in the New York Times, more than 220,000 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan are out of work. The same article also stated that 65 to 70 percent of employers will not hire employees who serve in the National Guard or Reserve for fear of losing them to deployment.
It’s a problem that John Allison, owner of Envirospec – a major supplier and manufacturer – has contemplated for quite some time, and he’s ready to step up and help.
Allison, who served the military in Vietnam, and his wife, Shelley, a veteran as well, have gained a long reputation for philanthropy through their animal sanctuary, Suzie’s Friends, and generous support of the Shriner’s Children’s Hospital in Tampa, and Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Ashford, CT. “The only reason that Shelley and I go to work each day is so we can make enough money to pass it along to a life that needs a little help,” Allison explained.
Starting June 1, Allison is launching a new “Soap for Hope” program, the Washin’ Warriors Project. He explained that Envirospec, “with the tremendous help of those who purchase our products,” will commit to putting one out-of-work veteran in business each month for 12 months on a “no charge” basis.
“I just think that collectively, we – as an industry of caring, hard-working individuals – can make a difference for some,” he said.
Specifically, Envirospec – with the help of a volunteer selection committee made up of industry members with military experienc – will select 12 out-of-work veterans for the program. Envirospec will build their pressure washing equipment, bring them to their Systems Certification School and Symposium so they can learn how to keep the equipment running, and supply them with repair parts, chemicals and on-going training. “We will become their mentor and make sure they have every chance of success,” Allison added.
Each package is valued at several thousands of dollars, which is why Envirospec can only sponsor 12 veterans at this time. “Once the veteran contractor gets on his or her feet, they will need to start paying for the products they need to keep their business going,” explained Allison. Profits from those sales will then go into a fund to help other vets start their businesses, free of charge.
So how can you help?
Recommend a veteran. Finding candidates who are truly in need of a job or an opportunity may be the hardest part of the project, and everyone can help. You may know of veterans, you may read or hear about them in the news, or you may contact local organizations to see if they know of anyone who qualifies. Envirospec welcomes candidates from all areas of the country.
When you recommend someone, Envirospec will need to know how you heard about them. From there, Envirospec will contact the veteran to let them know of the opportunity, and if they are interested, they will be considered a potential candidate and passed to the selection committee. To recommend a candidate, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Serve on the Selection Committee. Envirospec is looking for pressure washing industry members who have military experience to serve quarterly in helping select the best applicants for the start-up package.
Mentor the veteran. Ideally, professional contractors located in the selected veterans’ areas will volunteer to help mentor the veterans until their businesses are up and running.
Look for new ways to help. The joblessness among our veterans is widespread, and Envirospec’s program can only help a few. Veterans need your help, whether you support Envirospec, other veterans organizations, or perhaps best of all, set up your own version of Envirospec’s new Washin’ Warriors program.
“Our hope is that this will encourage other companies to come up with similar programs,” Allison concluded. “It would be so nice if this concept becomes infectious.”