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Building Homes, Building Dreams with Habitat for Humanity
Building Homes, Building Dreams with Habitat for Humanity
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Editor’s note: Johnson & Johnson has more than 128,000 employees around the world. Throughout 2014, we’re going to bring you their unique stories. Whether they are employees who work with a nonprofit, mentor children, or simply volunteer at their local soup kitchen, we want to show that small acts of kindness can make big changes in the world we live in. These stories have inspired us, and we hope they’ll inspire you, too.

Those who can lead have an obligation to do so, in the realm of citizenship…” General Robert Wood Johnson, 1949

Sometimes we forget just how lucky we are. Whether it’s our health, our families, our children, or the fact that we work for one of the top companies in the world, most of us have more reasons to be thankful than not. It’s that feeling of good fortune that causes many people to want to share their blessings.

At Johnson & Johnson, Our Credo states that “we are responsible to the communities in which we live and work” – helping others less fortunate than ourselves. As part of our local community outreach in Cincinnati, Ethicon has partnered for the last several years with our local chapter of Habitat for Humanity. Their mission is to give a hand up and build a stronger community by building affordable housing for deserving working families. In 2013, we donated funds to help build two homes for local families: the Rhodes and the Abass families. The Abass family came to the United States after fleeing their home in Sudan and spending 16 years in a refugee camp in Nigeria.

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When I first started volunteering at our Habitat houses, I felt nervous about what job I was going to be given because I don’t do a lot of this type of work at my own home. I was scared I’d make a mistake and mess up something important. This was going to be someone’s first home, after all.

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However, I was welcomed by everyone and quickly made to feel comfortable. I’ve also learned some new skills along the way, but more important was the progress I could see each week and the joy in the eyes of the families as they worked hard alongside us. People who were once strangers were now teammates, building a dream bit by bit.

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When we handed over the completed houses to the families, I felt immensely proud. The families kept saying thank you and were so grateful. Yet I was the one who felt grateful and humbled that they had allowed me to work with them and help to give their family a new home. I did so little, but feel so moved that I had the opportunity to help.

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Ethicon employees from across the company gave more than 300 hours of their time to help build these homes. Many work teams were represented, working alongside the recipient families and others from our community. What an honor it is to work alongside colleagues who give so much to others for no return but the benefit of witnessing a deserving family experiencing the American dream. This is the true spirit of the employees of Johnson & Johnson worldwide, and it’s a privilege to be a part of this group of people.

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Alan Rae is Vice President, New Business Development, for Ethicon Surgical Care. He has more than 30 years of medical device experience with Johnson & Johnson, having led new business and product introductions in Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America, and the U.S.

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