An alignment in core values led to a working relationship between Convoy of Hope and TWO MEN AND A TRUCK®

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-Written by Erik Sargent

Making a difference in the world is only obtainable when people come together and use the resources around them, and for the faith-based organization Convoy of Hope, this was the exact mindset that helped it come to fruition.

Convoy of Hope – which is based out of Springfield, Missouri – was founded in 1994 with the plans of making a difference in communities all around the world, mainly by working to feed children through feeding initiatives, community outreaches, and disaster response.

“Most of what we do has a focus on feeding,” said Eric Neubauer, corporate relations director for Convoy of Hope. “Secondarily, the flip-side of that coin is we’ve also been an early responder in times of natural disasters. There was a point in our mission where we felt like responding and being a part of relief efforts was important to who we are and what we did.”

Since the organization has grown over nearly 25 years of operation, Convoy of Hope now has their focus set in six main areas: community events, children’s feeding, disaster services, agriculture, women’s empowerment, and rural compassion.

The number of people reached by Convoy of Hope are staggering when you examine what they’ve been able to do since 1994, which includes 100 million people served, 262 million meals distributed, and 615,000 volunteers mobilized to help children, families, and survivors of disasters. These numbers also include 115 countries served and $805 million worth of food and supplies distributed.

It’s no small task to be on the ground helping at so many different places for so many different causes, but a strong infrastructure allows Convoy of Hope to make it possible.

“Part of what gives us the ability to do that and what makes us so unique is our infrastructure,” Neubauer said. “Think of us like a logistics organization. We have a fleet of semis, we have an international headquarters here in Springfield with a 3,000 square foot building with essential supplies and products. We also have regional warehouses in different parts of the world, including Haiti, Asia, Puerto Rico, and Houston.”

This impressive infrastructure allows Convoy of Hope to adapt on the go to whatever the  disaster situation may need and stay prepared for any situation.

“Because of our logistical capacity and our infrastructure, we are not dependent on partnering with A, B, and C organization when deploying of times of disaster,” Neubauer said. “Because we have our infrastructure, we are at the disaster and supplying what we need for the disaster on our own.”

A partnership based on a common goal

 

At TWO MEN AND A TRUCK®, finding any and all ways to give back to the communities we operate in and the people we serve has been our goal over the last 30 years.

For Greg Micklos, franchisee of the TWO MEN AND A TRUCK Pensacola, Fla., location, this same sentiment was on his mind last year when Hurricane Harvey crashed the shores of the Gulf Coast. The damage was substantial, people needed help, and he knew his moving team and his trucks could be of use. The next step was finding a partner to put these resources to good use.

Micklos had been organizing both the supplies to be donated and also organizing a fleet of trucks to head to Houston when a mutual connection led him to Convoy of Hope.

greg micklos 013“I was involved in Hurricane Floyd and Dennis in 1999 when I was living in North Carolina, I have experienced hurricane devastation myself,” said Micklos. “I knew a lot of people in the Florida area would be coming in and out of disaster areas, and knew we would need some kind of credentials to get into devastation areas. Finding an organization like Convoy of Hope to help us actually get in there and get out without making a scene – we knew they needed supplies, and it was a great fit for us.”

A couple of quick phone calls later, and TWO MEN AND A TRUCK and Convoy of Hope had plans in the works to tag-team these hurricane relief efforts.

“When Eric Neubauer from Convoy of Hope and I got together and actually developed a strategic plan together to figure out what we had and what we could do, it just seemed to be a phenomenal fit,” Micklos said.

TWO MEN AND A TRUCK’s resources helped boost the efforts of Convoy of Hope, who was already established in the disaster areas.

“For us, it just makes sense to ask if there is a logistics connection, and if it could radically improve our capacity,” Neubauer said. “People want do something to help, and TWO MEN AND A TRUCK has tons of trucks and people.”

Since Hurricane Harvey, TWO MEN AND A TRUCK has continued to work together with Convoy of Hope where it makes sense, as each organization works hard to make a difference when possible.

Micklos noted that over the last year, he has remained in contact with Convoy of Hope and kept an open dialogue about what has worked in their relief efforts and what hasn’t as they plan to coordinate in the future. With the ability to provide both trucks and man-power on relatively short notice, the two organizations have developed an understanding with one another and are working to build their partnership.

“Our core values align so well,” Micklos said. “We’re all for one, one for all, and we can’t just do it by ourselves. [Founder] Mary Ellen Sheets said it best – ‘all of us are stronger than one of us’, so you look at that and we’re right there with Convoy of Hope sharing the same values.”

TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® is the first and largest franchised moving company in the United States. Let us help move you forward! For more helpful tips and information on moving services subscribe to our blog and like us on Facebook.v

Food banks distribute meals and food options to end hunger across America

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Written by Erik Sargent

Having a reliable food source and knowing where your next meal is coming from is something that many people in this country take for granted, but unfortunately, it’s not always the case for a large number of individuals across the U.S.

Hunger is an issue that continues to affect many people right here in our own country. Due to a variety of factors that can come into play, many adults – and especially children – are left to live day-by-day being unsure if they can eat, and often failing to receive the proper nutrition to maintain a healthy diet. It’s an ongoing issue, and one that organizations like the North Texas Food Bank strive to solve.

The North Texas Foodbank was founded in 1982 with the sole purpose of providing the residents of the greater Northern Texas area access to nutritious food. With such a high number of people in the area, it can be a daunting task.

“Our mission is to close the hunger gap in North Texas by providing access to nutritious food,” said Lexi Kay, the annual campaign manager for the North Texas Food Bank. “Currently, there are more than 800,000 people – which includes 300,000 children – who are currently facing food insecurity. Food insecurity means that they don’t always know where their next healthy meal will come from.”

NTFB is able to cover a 13-county service area in North Texas, providing more than 190,000 meals each day through various locations and through their new distribution center. Just last year alone, NFTB was able to provide people access to nearly 72 million meals, and their goal by 2025 is to be able to provide 92 million meals in the year.

How does an organization like NTFB – which is a nonprofit – receive the necessary resources to make this goal a reality?

“We work with a network of over 200 partner agencies,” Kay said. “These partner agencies typically have a food pantry within their organization, so that’s really how we are getting the food out to those in need. We’re pretty much receiving either donated food, purchased food, or different kinds of food provided by the government and we provide it where it’s needed the most. Without these partner agencies, we would not be able to meet hunger demand we see. These partnerships are very critical to what we do here.”

To match their partnerships with various organizations, NTFB was able to open a new, state-of-the-art distribution center which allows them to operate at an even higher level and put more meals in peoples’ hands across North Texas.

“Since we’ve seen such an increased need for food here in our community, we’ve recently opened our new distribution center in Plano, Texas,” Kay said. “It’s very exciting. It’s three times the size of our prior distribution center, and it’s centrally located within our service area which allows for more engagement with business, volunteer’s, donors, and helps us meet the needs of the area.”

A big part of what NTFB does is not just getting food in people’s hands, but providing access to healthy food to make the process worthwhile.

Their organization allows members of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to have access to all NTFB resources, and they set up pantries with healthy food options to make sure people are maintain – and having the options – for a nutritious diet.

“One of our pantries that we run is called ‘Our Community Pantry’, and we set it up as a client-choice pantry, which means that clients can come in and choose what they want to take home with them when shopping for groceries,” Kay said. “It’s set up just like a grocery store, and the clients come in and have a cart and volunteers help them shop for what they need.”

Giving back

img_8606 (1)Tackling the ongoing issue of hunger takes more than just one organization, and it’s important for as many hands as possible to get involved in making a difference. One company that has put their resources to good use with this issue is the international moving company, TWO MEN AND A TRUCK®.

For more than 30 years, TWO MEN AND A TRUCK has made it a point to donate their trucks and moving resources to all types of charitable causes. One campaign they developed on their own, Movers for Meals®, specifically deals with people facing hunger. The company partners with various organizations to help deliver and pickup food and other items and deliver them where needed, taking some of the pressure off food banks who are working to distribute meals.

The TWO MEN AND A TRUCK Lansing location ran Movers for Meals during the month of October, partnering with local businesses in the area like MSUFCU, Tutor Time, WLNS, and McLaren of Greater Lansing to gather donated, non-perishable food items for families in need.

“The response from the organizations was a surprise,” said Laura Larson, the marketing coordinator for TWO MEN AND A TRUCK Lansing. “We couldn’t have imaged how strong and supportive they have been with this project, especially since we have done other charities in the past with these organizations helping us. These organizations match our compassion and love for our community, and it is amazing to be partnered with them this year for Movers for Meals.”

movers-for-meals-2017.jpgThis kind of work fits in with TWO MEN AND A TRUCK’s list of company core values, and for the Lansing franchise, it was a no-brainer getting involved and helping.

“In Michigan alone, one out of seven people go hungry and of those, one out of four are children,” Larson said. “It takes a village to raise a child and when that child is hungry and in need, we all need to get involved. TWO MEN AND A TRUCK Lansing strives each and every day to make a difference in our community, and that means making sure that we can stop the one out of seven people going hungry. This program strongly fits into our core values and what we stand for.”

Help make a difference

As with any charitable cause, the work of the organization only goes so far – it’s up to the help of everyone to make sure the needs and goals of a certain area are met.

“In order for us to do what we do, we really rely on donations,” Kay said. “A lot of our donations come from corporations, individuals, grants – that’s really where our funding comes from, and it’s what helps us operate.”

More than just cash donations and grants, one of the best things that can make a difference is people getting out and helping by volunteering their time.

“At least for us here, we are striving to have individuals come to our new facility and to see what it looks like and hear more about our mission,” Kay said. “We’re always looking for volunteers – they help us pack a lot of the food that goes out, so they are critically needed. We are always looking for advocates, too. People to use their voice to tell elected officials that there is hunger in the community.”

To find out more about the North Texas Food Bank and how you can get involved, visit their website here. To learn more about TWO MEN AND A TRUCK’s charitable programs, click here.

Local animal shelters work tirelessly to get homeless pets into loving homes

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-Written by Erik Sargent 

As the pet population continues on a  constant rise, so too does the need to find the proper solutions for handling these animals and providing them not only with the appropriate care and treatment, but also finding them happy, forever homes.

All across the globe – from big cities down to small communities – are working to find the answers for dealing with homeless animals, mainly to prevent them from suffering neglect and potential death. It’s a complex issue, filled with hurdles like finding resources, having the proper space to house an animal, and having the proper staffing to provide support.

It’s up to the hardworking individuals at animal shelters and rescues to not only come up with the solutions for these animals, but to continue doing so each and every day with such constant turnover.

“We’re an open admission shelter, which means that we are completely open to the public and that all animals are welcome here from our service area,” said Wendy Welch, communications director for the Human Society of Huron Valley, located in Ann Arbor, Mich. “Thanks to the support we have in the community, we are able to treat many animals that come through our doors, and save the mass majority of them. We have about a 97 percent save rate, and an incredibly high adoption rate as well.”

The facilities at Huron Valley feature a full-service veterinary clinic that is open to the public, and they are able to provide treatment to most animals that come through their doors.

“We try to keep rates low [at the veterinary clinic], because our ultimate goal is to keep animals in homes,” Welch said. “Our vet staff takes a look at them and can treat them for different things. If there is something beyond the scope of what we are able to do here, we have partners in the community that can help as well. We also have behavior specialists that can help with differing conditions animals may have.”

Other facilities like the Heartland Animal Shelter, located in Northbrook, Ill., focus their efforts in providing safety for animals who are in danger, particularly ones who are on the streets and facing euthanasia.

“We get animals from all different situations,” said Stephanie Mueller-Simpson, executive director for Heartland Animal Shelter. “We will take owner surrenders sometimes, but mostly, we try to focus on animals that are in danger. Many of our cats and dogs come straight off the streets, and most of our dogs and cats come from municipal shelters where they are on the euthanasia list because there just isn’t room for them.”

Finding the resources

With organizations like these, money and resources can often be tight, and without the proper backing, they aren’t able to treat as many animals.

“One major challenge for us is the nature of being a no-kill, nonprofit means that we are a private organization, so we run entirely on donations,” Mueller-Simpson said. “So, if we don’t have particular items donated or money donated, we just can’t provide. That’s always an on-going challenge.”

It’s a difficult road relying on donations, and in order for a place like Heartland to operate, they need the money from any source possible and from people who care as much about animals as they do.

Another aspect that allows animal shelters and rescues to operate on a day-to-day basis is from volunteers in the communities they operate. Whether it’s with something simple like hosting community events or participating in the various volunteer programs these shelters offer, it provides a great service to the organizations trying to operate at a high level.

“We are fortunate to have many foster parents, so in addition to the space we have at our facilities, we have foster parents in the community who are able to take in the animals,” Welch said. “Whether it’s a medical emergency or a behavioral problem where the animal needs one-on-one attention, they are taken care of.”

Help from those in the community

22365597_1772764639425131_5775562813298348519_nThe impact of donations and volunteer work are hard to measure as shelters house hundreds of animals each year, and it’s people in the community who make the difference.

For the international moving company TWO MEN AND A TRUCK, select franchise locations do their part to make a difference with their Movers for Mutts campaign. Movers for Mutts was a program developed by the company, and franchises who elect to run this during the fall months use their moving services and equipment to help transport food, toys, and other essential care items collected in the community for local shelters or rescues that need it most.

DSC01626It’s a good way for the company to not only give back in the communities they operate, but also to work toward saving or improving the lives of as many animals as they can.

“It’s very important to us to give back with efforts like Movers for Mutts, because we have been in this community for a long time, and the community has been good to us,” said Eric St. Pierre, co-franchisee at the TWO MEN AND A TRUCK Colorado Springs, Colo. location. “It’s the least we can do. We want the community to know how much we appreciate them, and we want to help out animals, too.”

Not only does the charitable work go toward a great cause in the community, it also gives the franchise team members a break from the everyday grind and a chance to make a difference.

“We order the materials, make up donation boxes, and get in contact with local shelters who need the help,” St. Pierre said. “I think it gives our team members something different to focus on and takes away from the monotony of work. Our workers are extremely passionate about it.”

Join the cause

“There are so many ways to help,” Welch said. “We have many volunteer opportunities from youth volunteers to adults, who can do anything from laundry and administrative assistance to dog walking and cat comforting – these are the most popular ones. Even more skilled things – we have them help out with our dog play groups and dog pack walks, and many other things.”

Outside assistance to these types of organizations is crucial, and gives people a chance to help better protect the lives of these animals and take stress off of the organizations working to save them.

Whether you’re working with one tasks mentioned above, working to become a foster parent, donating your time with their volunteer activities, or just handing over a cash donation – everything helps.

“Just spreading the word is such a major thing,” said Mueller-Simpson. “There will always be issues with pet stores and breeders, and there will always be an overpopulation of animals. Spreading the word about why adoption is important can make a big difference.”

To learn more about the work being done at both of these facilities, visit the Heartland Animal Shelter website and Facebook page here and here, and the Human Society of Huron Valley website and Facebook here and here.

Tackling rising college costs with effective planning

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-Written by Erik Sargent

Another summer is coming to a close and for many, the time to head off to college for the fall is quickly approaching.

For all of the fun and responsibilities that come with enrolling in college, there’s one unfortunate side-effect that comes with it – debt. The continued spike in college tuition has placed a large number of people – those who have completed their degree and otherwise – in a substantial amount of debt they are required to handle the minute they leave campus.

According to research completed by The College Board, reports released in 2015 and 2016 showed moderate increase in published tuition and fees ranging from 2.2 to 3.6%, with the continued increased fees of colleges and universities outpacing financial aid, family incomes, and the average prices of other goods and services.

“The reports document that, despite the moderate increases in average published prices, there were considerable increases in net tuition and fees over the past few years,” said co-author Jennifer Ma, policy research scientist at the College Board. “These increases, combined with stagnant incomes for many families, raise concerns about ensuring educational opportunities for low and moderate income students.”

Where does the cost come from?

“The demand for higher education has risen dramatically since 1985,” said Richard Vedder, an author and distinguished professor of economics emeritus at Ohio University in an interview with Business Insider. “Once demand goes up and nothing else happens, that will raise the prices.”

Everyone sees the hefty price tag attached to a college diploma, but where exactly is all of the money going?

A large chunk of this money is going straight into tuition. According to CollegeData.com, the moderate college budget for an in-state public college for the 2017-18 academic year averaged $25,290. A moderate budget at a private college averaged somewhere around $50,900.

Other fees that the research highlighted included:

-Room and board ranged from $10,800 at four-year public schools to $12,210 at private schools.

-The average cost for books and supplies for the 2017-2018 school year was $1,250 at public colleges and $1,220 at private colleges.

-The estimates for things colleges don’t bill you for – transportation, clothing, personal items, and entertainment – averaged $3,270 at public universities and $2,730 at private colleges.

The best ways to save

There’s always something that can be done to save money, especially for college students, and being conscious of where your money is going and what you’re spending can help you make the right decisions.

With the media coverage around these rising costs, students have taken notice and started to plan accordingly – both on their own, and with the help of their parents.

According to an article by the U.S. News Personal Finance section, some effective ways a student can save during their time in college include:

-Avoid additional loans at all costs

-Look for on-campus work to make extra spending money

-Master simple, low-cost foods for meals and snacks outside of meal plans. If living off campus, stay away from meal plans and use coupons and sales when grocery shopping for low-cost meals!

-Stick to being an authorized user on someone else’s credit card

-Utilize on-campus resources for entertainment and social connections

-Buy used textbooks or use textbook rental

-Check out the student discounts around your college town at restaurants, stores, gyms, etc.

Another useful and effective way to save money during college – and put you in line for work in the future – is through internships.

All around the country, companies offer internships to college students where they can earn a summer paycheck, and even college credit in some cases. These internships not only help students get adapted to the professional workplace, but also give them real-life experience in the fields they are working toward.

One company that offers an extensive learning opportunity through an annual internship program is the international moving company, TWO MEN AND A TRUCK. Each summer, college students are given the opportunity to work in various departments at the Home Office location in Lansing, Mich., where they gain valuable experience performing hands-on, innovative tasks.

“Interns have access to a number of resources while they are interning here during the summer,” said Rocco Cironi, employee development manager for TWO MEN AND A TRUCK in an interview last year. “Our interns meet with each member of the executive team to get to know them better and ask questions about their experiences. They also meet with our directors through our ‘Lunch and Learn’ program. We want them to learn both professional skills and personal development skills while they are here, as this will help them become more well-rounded and prepare them for life after graduation.”

From marketing to finance, human resources, information technology, and sales, the TWO MEN AND A TRUCK interns aren’t just getting coffee for their supervisors – they‘re involved in real-life tasks, and get placed into the everyday working environment for the company, while still finding time for fun and new experiences.

“In addition to daily department responsibilities, our interns also take part in various educational sessions we host at our corporate office,” Cironi said. “Our hope is not only do our interns learn more in the areas they work in, but they also have a better understanding of other departments throughout our corporate office. Our goal is for them to go back to school with a better understanding of the culture and pace of a corporation.”

Start planning now

Although the tips above are best for saving money while in college, one of the best ways to cut back on the rising costs is to plan ahead with saving. Scholarships and financial aid are two of the most important ways you can help save money and get yourself on track to avoid massive debt.

“Scholarships can make all the difference in college affordability,” said Chicago Tribune Contract Reporter Terry Savage in an article last year. “Set aside some time in the holiday season to search for them. High school sophomores and juniors should search, too. Starting early to build credentials required for some of these scholarships – or practicing writing application essays – can pay off when it comes time to apply.”

Thankfully for anyone finding themselves on this path, the Internet has an abundance of resources to choose from to find scholarships that fit any background. Visit sites like Fastweb.com, Scholarships.com, TuitionFundingSources.com, and SallieMae.com to find out more about which scholarships you may be eligible for.

For information on financial aid you are eligible for, fill out your FAFSA form.

Hydration and diet are key to staying safe while working in summer heat

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-Written by Erik Sargent

The dog days of summer are officially upon us, as the weather is at season highs around most regions of the country.

The rising temperatures affect all of us in one way or another, but they particularly affect people who work labor-related jobs, particularly those spent exerting energy outdoors. Working in the elements provides a whole new list of challenges for workers, and brings an important factor into play – heat stress.

Heat stress can come in many different forms, from causing dehydration to cramps, heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and so on.

“During the warm season, it’s important to understand that exposure to heat can cause serious illness or death,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Edwin G. Foulke, Jr. in an OSHA Press Release.

It’s important for people who are working in the summer heat to be educated on what they should and shouldn’t do in preparation, and to learn what methods can help protect their body from heat stress suffering

Be smart, be prepared

“I think people would be surprised how much they lose in sweat and how much body fluid they can lose, so they don’t drink as much as they need to,” said Orthopedic Surgeon and Sports Medicine Specialist David Geier.

Geier – who is located in Charleston, S.C. – currently serves as the Communications Council Chair for the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine Board of Directors, and after spending eight years as the Director of MUSC Sports Medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina, started his own medical practice. He primarily deals with athletics, and has a wealth of experience dealing with people who are exerting energy in the heat.

“[For those working], your goal should be to end your shift at the same weight you were at the beginning, so you have to drink that much water or sports drinks,” Geier said. “I think one important step is just making sure you drink enough during your shift, and drinking enough [fluid] throughout the day. It’s very important.”

It’s often something that can get overlooked or passed by as obvious, but Geier stressed how important proper hydration – both during work and before – can be to the health of someone trying to avoid heat stress.

Another major factor that can prevent heat illness? A proper diet.

“I would also recommend that when people are on a break, they try their hardest to eat healthy foods,” Geier said. “Fast foods tend to have a lot of salt, and that can make hydration more of a challenge. If possible, stick to fruits, vegetables, healthy proteins, things like that.”

Along with the proper diet, Geier recommended that people working in the heat wear light-colored, breathable clothing that allows them to cool off better while working. Other things like taking breaks when possible, avoiding direct sunlight when possible, and spending time in the shade are also encouraged.

But above all, one of the most important things people can do is be aware and in communication with those around you – don’t avoid speaking up if something isn’t right.

“The thing we see a lot is people not letting someone know they aren’t feeling good,” Geier said. “They don’t take breaks or go get in the shade, and at first it starts out as just sweating a lot, but it can very quickly turn into a dangerous situation. If someone is starting to seem dizzy or confused, pull them out of the heat and get them into a cool area.”

Staying cool while on the move

At TWO MEN AND A TRUCK, the dedicated movers and drivers that make up our 350-plus franchise locations are what drives our brand to reach new customers and make a difference.

With the summer months being the busiest time for moving, it’s inevitable that our movers will be spending long hours working in intense heat – from being in the back of moving trucks to moving up and down long flights of stairs, in old houses, and so on. Movers and drivers who are out on a home move are provided with the necessary refreshments and resources to ensure they’re able to stay in top shape as they work hard to move customers forward.

“We load up on refreshments and other items to recognize our guys working hard,” said Brooke Wilson, a multi-unit franchisee with locations in Georgia and North Carolina.

For Wilson and her TWO MEN AND A TRUCK moving teams, being located in the south means they are working in temperatures that can often exceed triple digits. It’s crucial for these movers to stay hydrated and stay cool.

“The busiest moving weeks [for us] typically fall on the hottest weeks in North Carolina and Georgia,” Wilson said. “So this year, we stocked up on cooling towels, refreshments, cool wipes, and water balloons. It’s all about keeping the teams hydrated and motivated.”

Don’t ignore the signs

As the “Movers Who Care®”, we want to help as many people as we can – and that includes those team members who work hard in the extreme heat!

We’ve created an informative graphic showing what people should be focused on while working in the heat. For more important information on tips and tricks to stay cool and safe, visit this page from OSHA.

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TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® is the first and largest franchised moving company in the United States. Let us help move you forward! For more helpful tips and information on moving services subscribe to our blog and like us on Facebook.

Women’s shelters nationwide work tirelessly to provide safety for those in need

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-Written by Erik Sargent

Flowers, gifts, family get-togethers, and immense appreciation are just a few things that make up Mother’s Day each year.

Unfortunately for some mothers and women, a joyous day of celebration isn’t always on option on Mother’s Day – or any day. Domestic violence is a never-ending issue nationwide, with a staggering three out of every 10 women facing some form of domestic violence in their lifetime, according to The National Domestic Violence Hotline.

It’s an issue that many try to brush to the side, but one that needs to be talked about, as women from every community around the country struggle to find safety, help, and peace. Where do these women go if they can’t find safety in their own homes, for themselves, and their kids? A major resource for women in these terrible situations comes from the help of women’s shelters, which aim to not only give them a place to seek refuge during moments of domestic violence, but also the resources to find stability in their life again and get back on track in an independent manner.

Organizations like the Genesis Women’s Shelter, based in Dallas, work diligently to be as accommodating as possible for women of domestic violence, as they try to strategically maneuver around the obstacles involved in cases like these and provide the necessary care.

“Genesis provides shelter, safety, and support for women and children who have experienced domestic violence,” said Bianca Jackson, senior director of funds and community development at Genesis. “Our goal is to remove every single road block she is going to face on her journey to this abuse-free life that she deserves, and that can be different for every woman.”

Every domestic violence case is different, and a big step for places like Genesis is figuring out each patient’s specific situation and needs to get where they need to be. Whether it is physical or emotional damage, domestic violence can take many forms, and the type of support one women may need might not work for someone else.

Genesis takes in women who have experienced what they call “intimate partner violence”, and that’s where they target their relief efforts for the women of the Dallas area.

“Basically, she’s been hurt by someone she is in a relationship with, or someone who she was in a relationship with,” Jackson said.

Outreach by the Genesis staff can take many forms, but most women inquire about coming to the shelter by reaching out to Genesis’ 24-hour emergency hotline.

“Does she need a place to stay, or does she need to talk to someone? As long as we have space to protect her, we tell her to come,” Jackson said. “She doesn’t have to bring anything with her, and in most cases, they don’t have anything because they are leaving while he’s at work, he jumped in the shower, or he’s on a business trip, and she gets out of there. When she walks in our doors, we provide food, clothing, a private room, and the immediate support that she’s going to need.”

Each woman who enters the doors at Genesis starts with counseling treatment before shifting to what specific things they might need to get out of their situation. Everything from figuring out if a change of jobs is needed to determining where their next residence will be, as the threat of the abuser going to where he thinks the woman might be is always present.

One of the biggest factors that comes into play with a domestic violence situation is financial, because according to Jackson, nearly all domestic violence relationships contain some type of financial abuse, too.

“We sustain them while they are here, and we also help them with financial planning,” Jackson said. “In 99 percent of all of these relationships, financial abuse is present, so she doesn’t have access to her money. Even if she’s working, she has to put her money in his account or he doesn’t allow her to work. So we provide financial planning to get her prepared for life after she leaves the shelter.”

Another major benefit Genesis offers – and something that would often get overlooked by someone on the outside looking in – is resources for the children she might have.

If a woman brings her children with her, they are no longer able to go to school because their father could go looking for them and he has the right to pull them out of school, putting the woman in a situation where she would have to go back home to get the kids.

“For the six-week period [she is here], her children can enroll in our school that is on-site with trained therapists that know what these children are experiencing, and that can provide them with a safe education while they are here,” Jackson said.

TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® making a difference

Appleton 2A company who takes this issue very seriously – and who tries to make a difference by helping every spring – is the international moving company, TWO MEN AND A TRUCK.

Founded in 1985 by a mother herself, Mary Ellen Sheets, and her two sons, Jon Sorber and Brig Sorber, TWO MEN AND A TRUCK developed its own way to make a difference by helping women’s shelters i across the country with its national Movers for Moms® campaign.

Franchise locations throughout TWO MEN AND A TRUCK partner with local shelters and community organizations in their community to collect essential care items for women and children that are then delivered by the TWO MEN AND A TRUCK moving teams to various women’s shelters. It provides the company a way to not only a make a difference in the lives of these women, but also to raise awareness to the public.

“Our franchise is so into Movers for Moms, we love it,” said Shalimar Rydzik, marketing coordinator for the TWO MEN AND A TRUCK Waukesha, Wis., location. “Personally, I feel having a respected woman as our franchisee makes us a little more connected to the campaign and what it means to the women in our community. [This campaign] really forces [all] of us to look at the world from a wider perspective, and encourages to care more about the greater good.”

In 2017, Movers for Moms ran in all 42 of the states that TWO MEN AND A TRUCK operated in, supporting a large number of different shelters. More than 295,000 gifts were donated to these shelters, and over the 10 years the company has been running Movers for Moms, more than 1 million items have been donated.

To find out more about Movers for Moms and how you can get involved, click here.

Get involved

For Genesis and other shelters, the goal at the end of the day is to help women in these terrible situations find stability and peace. Genesis encourages anyone in the Dallas area to visit the “Be Her First Step” page on their website, which provides a detailed breakdown on the necessary steps to take for women – or people who know women – in situations of domestic violence.

For those outside of the Dallas area who are interested in helping, be sure to research shelters and organizations in your area working with this cause to find out ways you can donate to their facilities or assist with their work.

 

Examining the national job landscape in 2018

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-Written by Erik Sargent

With three months down in 2018, enough time has passed to gain an accurate assessment on the job market nationwide and find out what jobs are trending, declining, and what areas are most friendly for finding a new career.

The job market is always in a state of rapid change, and being able to pinpoint where to look for the best jobs, or what your next career path looks like, can be the difference between finding something you love, and finding something that makes you feel burnt out in a short period of time.

The team over at ZipRecruiter – an employment marketplace for job searches– shared their input and what their data has shown so far in 2018 to get a better understanding of the job landscape.

“Overall, it’s a great time to be looking for a job, across all industries,” said Janet Lamwatthananon, a career advisor at ZipRecruiter. “Unemployment is low, and the economy is creating jobs at an average pace of 250,000 a month. Two industries in particular that are growing are healthcare and manufacturing, which have plenty of openings and pay well.”

Where are the best job markets?

At first thought, it would seem big cities on the West and East coasts would have the most job opportunities, but so far in 2018, that’s no longer the case.

“The Midwest is hot right now,” Lamwatthananon said. “Jobs are on the upswing, which combined with a lower cost of living than on the coasts, makes the region an appealing destination for job seekers. That’s especially true for younger job seekers, who often have sizeable student loans to pay off and are looking for an affordable place to launch their careers.”

According to data by ZipRecruiter, the top 10 best job markets in 2018 include:

-Fargo, North Dakota

-Columbia, Missouri

-Oshkosh, Wisconsin

-Honolulu, Hawaii

-Ames, Iowa

-Lincoln, Nebraska

-Lewiston, Idaho

-Des Moines, Iowa

-Wausau, Wisconsin

-Minneapolis, Minnesota

ZipRecruiter based this information on a variety of factors that included the availability of jobs, industry diversity, unemployment, earnings, and community.

According to ZipRecruiter, today’s hiring landscape is a job seeker’s market. Unemployment is at an 18-year low, and in January, 200,000 new jobs were added to the marketplace. Additionally, wages grew at the fastest rate since 2008, making for an even better job seeker market.

“We aren’t seeing any declines in any fields,” Lamwatthananon said. “Right now, the economy is firing on all cylinders. It’s a great time to get out there and find a job, or if you have a job, to start looking for a new position that pays higher wages.”

The most searched job title keywords so far in 2018 include: warehouse, customer service, cashier, sales, part-time, customer service representative, healthcare, manager, administrative assistant, and electrician.

According to the data provided, warehouse employee is the hottest job of 2018. Job seekers have searched the keyword over 19 million times in just the first two months of the year, with people in this field typically working large warehouse settings that involve processing, fulfilling, and loading shipments.

With the top 10 cities mentioned in the section above, the top job categories for these cities included: physical therapy, sales, truck driving, real estate, software, construction, human resources, accounting, and nutrition.

“The top 10 most searched job industries include a wide-range of professions,” said ZipRecruiter in a press release. “Healthcare related searches took the top spot, with 77,844,317 total searchers, while the 10th most searched industry (government) had 10,804,357 searches. While retail, healthcare, and manufacturing industry searches align with top searches for title keywords and categories, other top searched industries were more surprising. Industries like science, government, and technology are typically associated with highly-educated, highly-skilled job seekers. The appearance of those industries on our list could be a clue that a wider variety of job seekers are considering switching companies or jobs than the other two lists suggest.”

A welcoming career path

For those looking for an opportunity that could potentially grow into a career, one company that should be highly considered is the moving company TWO MEN AND A TRUCK®.

For more than 30 years, TWO MEN AND A TRUCK has established itself as a leader in the moving industry, providing a small-town feel across 350 locations in the United States. There is a strong emphasis on hiring people who work within the communities they operate, creating a sense of recognition for customers and a welcoming experience for new employees.

This past month, TWO MEN AND A TRUCK completed their sixth annual Career Move Month campaign, where the company set out to receive 15,000 job applications and make 1,500 hires throughout their system during the month-long period, goals they were able to surpass.

Although the campaign ended at the start of April, the company still has plenty of opportunity for new hires. From movers to drivers, managers to supervisors, and at their Home Office location in Lansing, Mich., they are seeking talented employees to continue to build their staffs.

“Every day, we get to meet new and interesting people out on our jobs,” said Traivonne Brown, a mover and driver with the TWO MEN AND A TRUCK Dallas location. “The customers make every single day exciting.”

The same sentiment is echoed by employees throughout the TWO MEN AND A TRUCK frontline staff, and the framework of the job allows them to go out and make a difference in people’s lives.

“The atmosphere becomes like a family,” said Luis Vega, a mover and driver at the TWO MEN AND A TRUCK Dallas location. “We work hard and enjoy getting to know each other and how to focus on our strengths as a team. TWO MEN AND A TRUCK also makes sure that you get rewarded for your hard work, and it’s a really fun company to work for.”

Click here to find out more about some of the current employment opportunities being offered by TWO MEN AND A TRUCK.

TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® is the first and largest franchised moving company in the United States. Let us help move you forward! For more helpful tips and information on moving services subscribe to our blog and like us on Facebook.

Using Value Flex® to get you to the fastest growing cities in America

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-Written by Erik Sargent

Studies show that of the fastest-growing large cities across the United States, cities in the southern most regions of the country are seeing the fastest growth rates.

According to the most recent reports published by the United States Census Bureau in 2017, 10 of the 15 fastest-growing cities were located in the south. Of these cities, four of the top five cities were located in the state of Texas.

The 15 fastest-growing large cities on the list included:

  1. Conroe, Texas
  2. Frisco, Texas
  3. McKinney, Texas
  4. Greenville, South Carolina
  5. Georgetown, Texas
  6. Bend, Oregon
  7. Buckeye, Arizona
  8. Bonita Springs, Florida
  9. New Braunfels, Texas
  10. Murfreesboro, Tennessee
  11. Lehi, Utah
  12. Cedar Park, Texas
  13. Meridian, Idaho
  14. Ankeny, Iowa
  15. Fort Meyers, Florida

“Overall, cities in the South continue to grow at a faster rate than any other U.S. region,” said Amel Toukabri, a demographer in the Census Bureau’s population division in this report. “Since the 2010 Census, the population in large southern cities grew by an average of 9.4 percent. In comparison, cities in the West grew 7.3 percent, while cities in the Northeast and Midwest had much lower growth rates at 1.8 percent and 3.0 percent respectively.”

Data for reports of this nature are generally based around the subjects of job growth, affordability in the area, and the number of homes available in the area. These sound like great places to go, right? Then why not go yourself!

TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® – the nation’s first and largest franchised moving company – has franchise locations in each of these states where the top cities are located, and we specialize in customizing moving services to fit each customer’s specific moving or storage needs.

While our original start was with local home moving, we have made significant strides in our long-distance relocation services, and in 2017 we launched Value Flex® – a new, affordable spin on long-distance home moving.

If you find yourself looking to move to one of these fast-growing large cities, or just want to get to any city in the continental U.S., we can now get you there at an affordable rate with the highest customer service in the industry.

Hear it from our customers!

Who better to tell you about Value Flex than the people who have used it?

For former customer and now TWO MEN AND A TRUCK corporate office team member Sean Lepsy, he recently found out first-hand how significantly helpful this service can be. Sean – who was originally from Michigan – was living in Los Angeles, California, but took a job with us back home.

Moving from California to Michigan is no easy process, but thanks to Value Flex, Sean was able to put his belongings in the hands of our professionally-trained moving teams and fly back to the Midwest while his belongings were shipped cross-country!

Here’s what he had to say about the experience overall.

What were your thoughts on the movers who loaded up your belongings?

Sean-Lepsy“I was most impressed with the movers’ friendliness, attention to detail, and their ability to make a stressful situation seem much less difficult than it really was.”

How long did the process take of loading your items at your home?

“The entire process was smooth – I would say overall, it took roughly two hours at my home.”

How was the communication with the franchise location that was shipping your belongings?

“My communications with the people at the Pasadena franchise location was outstanding. Throughout the entire process, each person I spoke with about what was happening was very helpful, made sure I understood what was happening, and worked in a timely and diligent manner. I was able to get multiple updates during the moving process, all done via phone and email. Any time I had a question for the franchise, the response time was great, and most of the time I was able to get a hold of them right away.”

Do you have any tips for people who might be considering a Value Flex move?

slepsy-photo1“Just let the movers do their work and feel free to ask them any questions. They are trained, responsive, effective, and have all of the necessary tools to make sure your items are safe. They are extremely helpful.”

Why would you recommend Value Flex to anyone looking to make a long-distance move?

“I would recommend this service because of the attention to detail that TWO MEN AND TRUCK has put into this service, from training the movers, to the responsive staff, the care given to my belongings, and the quality of every single team member I interacted with. TWO MEN AND A TRUCK was in sync from start to finish.”

For another customer testimonial from our Value Flex long-distance moving option, check out this video!

TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® is the first and largest franchised moving company in the United States. Let us help move you forward! For more helpful tips and information on moving services subscribe to our blog and like us on Facebook.

Animal rescues using the power of volunteer work to save pet lives

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Written by Erik Sargent

For many homes across the world, dogs and cats are more than just pets – they are meaningful members of a family, and are loved by everyone.

Unfortunately for many animals, this lifestyle isn’t always an option, as the rising number of animals in shelters continues to increase as the pet population continues to skyrocket, particularly in urban areas. The sad reality is the more animals entering these shelters, the higher number of animals being put down by euthanasia.

According to estimates from The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, approximately 6.5 million companion animals enter U.S. animal shelters each year. Of this number, approximately 3.3 million are dogs, and 3.2 million of them are cats. Within these numbers, it is estimated that approximately 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized each year because they did not get adopted.

Due to the sheer number of animals, the solution may never be resolved. However, thanks to wonderful people across the country, there are numerous animal shelters and rescues working tirelessly to ensure these loving animals are given a second chance and an opportunity to find a forever home.

A rescue that’s doing fantastic work is the Lucky Dog Animal Rescue, a volunteer-powered nonprofit dedicated to rescuing homeless, neglected, and abandoned animals from certain euthanasia and finding them loving homes.

“Lucky Dog is what we call ‘volunteer-powered’,” said Mirah Horowitz, executive director for Lucky Dog Animal Rescue. “We have a very small number of paid staff, and a vast majority of everything we do is done by volunteers. We have no facilities or shelter. The number of animals we can save is directly dependent on the number of volunteer foster homes we have, because obviously, the animals need a place to go until they are adopted.”

Horowitz and Lucky Dog are based on the east coast, and work primarily in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Puerto Rico. They partner with shelters or rescues that have very low adoption rates, and work to bring the animals to the Washington D.C. metro area.

Lucky Dog has volunteers who drive vans to shelters all over this region, and Horowitz and the Lucky Dog team have people they trust all over this area who are able to send them photos and descriptions of the animals they have so they know which ones will fit in their rescue. Last year, Lucky Dog rescued more than 1,725 animals.

“Our typical work is with ‘high-kill’ shelters, where the animals come in and their adoption rates are so low, that less than 10 percent of the animals leave alive,” Horowitz said. “Lucky Dog is able to take 40 to 50 percent of the animals that come in over the year and make a huge impact by saving their lives.”

There is no offseason for the Lucky Dog Animal rescue, either, as their work is non-stop, around the clock, all year long.

“It’s constant, it really is constant,” Horowitz said of their work load. “You see a little bit of a spike around the holiday season when people get rid of their dogs – especially older dogs – when they are trading them for younger dogs. There is a constant need for animals that need to be saved, it never really lets up.”

Movers making a difference

At TWO MEN AND A TRUCK®, we have a special place in our hearts for pets, and have formed our own initiatives to make a difference in the lives of animals all across the country.

22814443_1789794957722099_8643915050224876084_nOur Movers for Mutts campaign was developed to help local animal shelters support and foster stray animals in communities across the country. This program is hosted each fall, and the franchise locations that run this partner with local businesses, schools, and organizations to collect essential care items for pets to ensure they are taken care of while being housed in a shelter.

“We have many rescue organizations in our area that rely 100 percent on community support,” said Kirk Fishel, former marketing coordinator for the TWO MEN AND A TRUCK Appleton, Green Bay, and Oshkosh, Wis., locations. “If they do not receive support from the community, they must use their personal funds to help neglected, abused, and homeless animals. We felt this was an opportunity to help these animals and organizations by coordinating a Movers for Mutts campaign in our community.”

Movers for Mutts provides TWO MEN AND A TRUCK franchise locations and their employees not only the chance to make a difference, but also to work with pets and provide a positive experience for them – something everyone can enjoy.

“We are a local company that cares about the community we work in,” said Patti Pula, sales team lead for the TWO MEN AND A TRUCK Bay City, Midland, and Saginaw, Mich., location. “We try to give back to our community as often as possible. Most people know families that are in need, but don’t stop to think there might be pets in need, also.”

Getting involved

Shelters around the country vary in quality, and according to Horowitz, some of the bigger problems that shelters – particularly in rural areas – are facing include lack of resources, not enough high-quality food to give the animals, and not having the proper health protocols in place to ensure the safety of animals.

Most of all, the problem lies with low adoption rates, and as the rising number of pets increases, this will continue to be an issue.

As mentioned previously, a majority of the work done by Lucky Dog Animal Rescue stems from the help of unpaid volunteers, as it does with most major animal shelters and rescues. Horowitz encourages people who want to get involved to do so, reminding readers than any amount of help can go a long way in making a difference in the lives of animals.

“Lucky Dog always needs volunteers,” Horowitz said. “They don’t have to be physically located where we are, they can be remote. The other big way people can help out is with donations. We’re always in need of monetary donations, so if it’s not Lucky Dog, people should find another reputable shelter or rescue and commit their time or money. There’s never enough, there’s always a need for more.”

To learn more about the work that Lucky Dog Animal Rescue does, click here.

TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® is the first and largest franchised moving company in the United States. Let us help move you forward! For more helpful tips and information on moving services subscribe to our blog and like us on Facebook.

Finding solutions to help end homelessness in America

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-Written by Erik Sargent

As we roll through the winter months and the holiday season, many people are spending time with their loved ones in nice, warm homes, enjoying this wonderful time of year. Unfortunately, for an alarming number of people in the country, this is not the case.

The issues of homelessness in America is an ongoing problem, one that needs constant attention and solutions as organizations and groups work to get people off the streets and into better situations.

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, on a single given night in 2017, 553,742 people were experiencing homelessness in the United States, and approximately 65 percent were staying in emergency shelters or transitional housing program.

Homelessness increased for the first time in seven years, showing almost a one percent increase from 2016, according to the same report. So how does the nation solve homelessness? What is causing homelessness? It’s a complex issue with many layers.

Various issues leading to the problem

“Far and away, the number one cause is eviction,” said Darin Estep, vice president of community engagement for the Volunteers of America Michigan department. “There are underlying causes for eviction, but it’s usually unemployment, loss of job, or a medical condition. Almost all homeless cases result when someone does not have a support system.”

Along with the problem of eviction, drugs and alcohol can play a key role in homelessness, but another major issue is the problem of mental health.

“Some of it can be drug and alcohol related, but a great part of it is mental health issues,” said Jody Naylor, a board member for Homeless Angels, an organization based in Lansing, Mich., that provides temporary shelter for clients and helps them work toward getting back on their feet during rough patches.

“It can be people not taking their medication like they should be. A lot of our clients have mental health issues, and the other large segment is just people who have fallen on hard times and don’t know where to turn.”

One common misconception about homelessness is that it occurs during the winter months, but as both Estep and Naylor pointed out, homelessness has become such a large problem that it now has no season – it’s year round.

“It’s unfortunately a year-round problem,” Estep said. “It’s much more painful and dangerous in the winter because winter can kill you if you’re not in shelter, so it’s important to get people inside and out of the weather. But it is important to remember this problem is year-round, and we are pretty much full 365 days a year.”

Spreading the message

For organizations who provide assistance to people struggling with homelessness, aside from actually providing these services, one of the biggest tasks is making sure people in need are aware of how to get help.

For Estep and the VOA of Michigan, they work on collaborating with other agencies in the Ingham County area where they are based to ensure there is a wide web cast so people are aware they can turn to these organizations for help. This starts by word of mouth or distributing outreach cards in certain areas to spread the message.

For Naylor and Homeless Angels, they often do networking on their own, and also leave their lines open for people to contact them with issues of their own, or if they see someone struggling.

“We have a street ministry team, where there’s a team of people that actually comb the parks in Lansing and they know where a lot of homeless camps are,” Naylor said. “They work on building relationships with the homeless people in the community, because they have trust issues. Once they trust them and know that we are there to help them, that helps with bringing them in.”

Naylor and the Homeless Angels also put a lot of effort into using social media to increase their presence in the Lansing area, and receive messages on a daily basis from people in the community that will point out a person who might be sleeping in their car or in a bridge, and offer the location so the organization can go check on them.

Everyone getting involved

23032491_10155137186921647_1663434852797734851_nAt TWO MEN AND A TRUCK®, we put a heavy emphasis on giving back to each of the communities we work in, trying to make a difference in the lives of the people that reside there and making the areas a better place to live. One of our top fall campaigns – Truckload of Warmth – was specifically designed to help with the issue of homelessness, and during it, our franchises partner with organizations in their areas to help provide warm weather clothing that can be distributed at shelters during the cold months.

“We have been doing this drive for several years,” said Kara Berhow, marketing and recruiting director for the TWO MEN AND A TRUCK Des Moines, Iowa, location. “Within our community, there is a huge need for these winter wear items. We see that need in our schools and especially in the area’s refugee population. We received request for more than 12,000 items this year. Many people arrive in our city with nothing more than light clothing, and being prepared on a tight budget is a real struggle for families just trying to get started again.”

IMG_0281Berhow and the Des Moines location partnered with a local non-profit organization in the area to help with their campaigns, and also partnered with a local Chick-Fil-A restaurant to collect over 10,000 items that were distributed throughout the area.

“The campaign was incredibly successful, and it is a joy to watch it grow each year,” Berhow said. “Our teams are always thrilled to help with dropping off boxes, picking up donations, manning the ‘Fill the Truck’ events, and delivering the donations. The ability to give back is something that we celebrate here, and it is a blessing to work for a company that puts so much emphasis on philanthropy.”

How the public can get involved

Homeless organizations and companies working to use their resources to fight the issues of homelessness is great, but in order to make a true swing at ending it in certain areas, it takes the efforts of as many people as possible.

These organizations are always seeking volunteers, and they encourage people to contact them and ask for ways they can either assist with their efforts, donate, or provide resources to help the cause.

“I would say there’s three main ways to get involved,” Estop said. “One is to come and volunteer and see the people so you get a ground-level understanding of the problem. Another way is to simply come in for a tour, where we can show you around. Third is to just contribute. We take donations of cash, goods, and time. Any way people want to share with our less fortunate brothers and sisters, we are happy to facilitate that. That’s one of the main reasons we are here – to provide that opportunity.”