Port-au-Prince, Haiti – This past July, five Nissan employees did something that would change their lives forever. They submitted an essay during an intracompany contest for a chance to help build 100 homes in Léogâne, Haiti, with Habitat for Humanity International. Their entries stood out, and soon they joined more than 600 international volunteers on a Habitat experience.
"You never have experienced poverty on a scale like this. You still see some of the rubble piled up on the side of the road. You still see blue tarps everywhere. And that is our main goal here, to get those people out from under those blue tarps and into a decent house," said Joseph Flowers, one of the five Nissan employees chosen to represent the company at the 2012 Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project from Nov. 23 to Dec. 1.
Flowers, who is employed by Nissan at its Canton Manufacturing and Assembly Plant in Miss., was joined by colleagues Norma Estrada, Nissan Motor Acceptance Corp., Dallas, Texas; Brian Lambert, Smyrna Manufacturing and Assembly Plant, Tenn.; François Lefèvre, Dealer Operations, Toronto, Canada; and Ann Ngo, Nissan Design, San Diego, Calif.
These five volunteers were selected by submitting entries to the "What Will You BUiLD" campaign announced by Habitat in May 2012. BUiLD is a U.S. marketing effort that highlights the long-term positive outcomes of Habitat's work – that a house is only the beginning of a life-changing experience for both volunteers and Habitat partner families. A selection committee consisting of representatives from Nissan and Habitat chose the Nissan winners.
"The reason why I'm here is my son. He really inspired me to build and do an essay for Nissan. Looking at him, and then looking at three-year-old-kids here, the same age as my son, just playing with a rusted can, that really put things into perspective. He's my pure motivation to be here and I think about him every day," said Lefèvre.
Part of Nissan Americas' $1.5 million donation to Habitat this year also will support community sustainability "summits" for the organization's affiliates. Over the past seven years, Nissan has provided $8 million to Habitat for Humanity International to build homes throughout North America.
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