We are now going to start being inundated by Hurricane Katrina reconstruction stories, and yes, the puns are intended. No offense to any of the people whose lives were damaged, and in some cases ruined by the monster storm, but this is a readymade opportunity for “good company” public relations exercises.
Here’s one from Schneider’s Square D brand:
PALATINE, Ill. – August 7, 2006 – Almost a year after Hurricane Katrina dealt its devastating blow to the Gulf Region, Square D – best known in the United States as Schneider Electric’s flagship brand for electrical distribution equipment–has donated labor, supplies and money to eight separate initiatives in the affected region, attempting to rebuild cherished community locations and organizations.
The projects vary in scope from treasured parks and athletic facilities to museums and a medical clinic. The key uniting factor in each case is the support they are receiving from Square D to help restore areas and enrich the lives of those who live there. Total monetary donations to the collective efforts tallied over $1 million.
“Giving back to the community has always been a core value of Schneider Electric, especially in the face of devastating disasters such as Hurricane Katrina,” said Dave Petratis, president and CEO of the Schneider Electric North American Operating Division. “In seeking out numerous independent initiatives throughout the Gulf Region, we could ensure our money was aiding multiple communities and a variety of important projects.”
Square D continues to make it a business priority to act when disaster strikes. Petratis cited the success of the Square D ‘We Care’ program, which helps bring relief to communities that have suffered serious natural disasters by working to quickly restore electrical service and expedite the orders of electrical products. This program also was deployed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
“We are proud to support such a wide variety of valuable causes to make certain residents of the affected regions are able to once again enjoy special places in their communities,” said Karl Newquist, hurricane recovery project leader for Schneider Electric North America. “More than anything, we wanted our donations to help restore normalcy to some of the many lives and organizations still affected daily by Hurricane Katrina’s devastation, especially initiatives directly related to our youth.”
The eight recent initiatives supported by the donation are:
City Park – New Orleans, La.
New Orleans City Park, one of the largest urban parks in the United States, was completely submerged after Hurricane Katrina hit, leaving all of its unique attractions, except its art museum, destroyed or badly damaged. The monetary donation provided by Square D will go toward rebuilding two of the most popular exhibits. The funds will support the cost of a new locomotive and one coach car for the train, which traverses the park on a two-mile track. The donation also will finance a new holiday light exhibit, commemorating French holiday traditions for the annual Celebration in the Oaks – an event that has drawn 500,000 people in past years. The projects are scheduled to be completed in late fall.
The Pascagoula Beach Park – Pascagoula, Miss.
Pascagoula, Mississippi’s eighth largest city, had one of its cherished parks, Beach Park, destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. The tot lot playground and the large playground provided hours of fun for children in the community from ages 2 through 12, until they were destroyed by floodwaters. The donation from Square D will go toward restoring both playground areas, as well as a large picnic pavilion, perfect for housing outdoor gatherings. The damaged equipment has been removed, and the project is well under way. The playgrounds and pavilion are expected to reopen in mid-August.
The Stone High School Baseball Field – Stone County., Miss.
For several consecutive years, parents of the Stone High School baseball team have raised $20,000 per year toward renovations to their school’s baseball field – making it more enjoyable for players and fans – only to see Hurricane Katrina completely wipe out their effort. The charitable donation from Square D will not only fund necessary repairs to ensure the field is both operational and safe for players and fans, but the gift also will restore the projects previously financed by the parents’ fundraising efforts. These initiatives include repairing and replacing items such as lights, fences, bleachers, bull pen areas and the fields’ playing surface as well as the concession stand, batting cages, safety netting, inclement weather practice facility and scoreboard. The new baseball field and facility will be repaired by the team and its supporters over the next six months and is expected to be ready by the opening pitch of the 2007 baseball season.
The Audubon Nature Institute Aquarium & Insectarium – New Orleans, La.
The Audubon Nature Institute, which “celebrates the wonders of nature” by exposing guests to the vast diversity of wildlife, also suffered a huge loss following Hurricane Katrina. The Audubon Aquarium of the Americas housed one of the country’s largest permanent collections of jellyfish, until the display and all its jellyfish were lost in the storm’s aftermath. The money donated by Square D went to completely restore this popular exhibit, and the official reopening took place May 26th. Additionally, the Audubon Insectarium, a $25 million new museum project, was under construction when Hurricane Katrina struck. With the help of Square D, the unique new attraction, including interactive exhibits and a 4D theater, will be completed by June 2007.
Milner Football Stadium – Gulfport, Miss.
Milner Stadium, the home of Gulfport High School, also could not avoid Hurricane Katrina’s destructive path, resulting in the most extensive and expensive renovation in the stadium’s history. Square D is helping out with one important component of the stadium: the scoreboard. The company is not only funding it, but is also helping to install it. The restoration of the stadium is well under way and scheduled for completion by the start of the 2006 football season in late August.
Golf Fundraiser – Gulfport, Miss.
Square D also reached out to Gulfport’s youth sports program by agreeing to match funds in the City of Gulfport Charity Golf tournament, which was initiated and sponsored by two local companies and raised a total of $50,000 for the community. The company also donated merchandise for a fundraising raffle and hats and towels for tournament participants.
The Trinity Christian Community Center – New Orleans, La.
The Trinity Christian Community Center provides inner-city teens with important guidance, including tutoring, lifeskills and a safe place to congregate. In late August 2005, Hurricane Katrina heavily damaged the organizations’ facility which houses after-school programs and provides lodging for college students and short term mission trips. Square D is donating money, product and labor to guarantee the facilities’ electrical needs are taken care of. The center is expected to be completed by mid-summer.
The Bayou La Batre Rural Health Clinic – Bayou La Batre, Ala.
The Bayou La Batre Rural Health Clinic, founded by accomplished philanthropist Dr. Regina Benjamin, burned to the ground Jan. 1, 2006, just one week after it was set to reopen following Hurricane Katrina’s destruction and the subsequent repair. Square D is donating the electrical equipment, including a generator, to help the clinic service its clients as soon as possible.