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We're invested in creating opportunity through partnering with communities and organizations in the places where we live and work. From direct financial support through the Subaru of America Foundation and corporate giving to employee volunteerism and connecting with our customers and retailers through Share the Love and Love Promise, we work hard to help our communities thrive.
We believe that the impact we make not only enriches our communities, but enriches us as well. We are privileged and honored to work side by side with our many community partners. The following examples highlight just some of the ways we work to create opportunity and share the love.
Respond, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that has been serving the people of Camden, New Jersey, for 50 years. Founded in 1967, the organization’s mission is to promote self-sufficiency and economic development by providing job training and resources to those in need to create a better quality of life for themselves and their families.
Subaru is a proud supporter of Respond and their work to help the lives of so many Camden residents. Recently, Subaru provided $200,000 worth of equipment to support the organization’s automotive training program. This program trains participants for jobs in the automotive repair industry, and Subaru’s donation provides the equipment needed for participants to learn the necessary skills to gain access to good-paying careers in this field.
In addition to the equipment donation, Subaru has developed a new program in partnership with Respond. Subaru University will take students from Respond’s program and put them into a 90-day internship at the Subaru Training Center. Here, students learn additional skills to become certified Subaru auto technicians. The program gives interns a chance to develop the soft skills necessary to succeed once they are employed.
“Camden is a community with its fair share of struggles. For example, our high school drop-out rate is 60%,” said Wilbert Mitchell, executive director of Respond, Inc. “Subaru has taken a lot of initiative to be our partner and help us build a brighter future for so many of our residents.”
During their 90-day internship at Subaru U, students will work from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, doing real work to build their confidence, their technical skills, and their understanding of the responsibilities that come with full-time employment.
According to Mitchell, “Subaru’s partnership sets a high standard that Respond can point to as other companies look to relocate to Camden. We’re grateful for their commitment to the people of Camden.”
For the past 17 years, Hopeworks has been training young people in Camden in technology solutions. But if you ask Executive Director Dan Rhoton, it wasn’t until a few years ago that they really began to unlock the real potential of local youth.
“We often work with the most marginalized youth in our community,” said Rhoton, “those experiencing homelessness or violence or some other trauma. We realized that all the technology training in the world wouldn’t do them any good if we didn’t address their trauma first.”
Integrating trauma-informed care into the education model at Hopeworks has been revolutionary – improving their outcomes to a nearly 90 percent success rate. And it’s captured the attention of local community and business leaders, including Subaru of America.
“We are proud to partner with Hopeworks,” said Sandy Capell, manager of Corporate Responsibility at Subaru of America. “Their approach is holistic and meaningful, which allows them to create real opportunities for youth in the community."
For several years, Subaru has collaborated with Hopeworks, hiring interns in its IT department and providing mentorship and sponsorship opportunities for the program. In addition to teaching Hopeworks students about technology and other critical job skills, Subaru’s leaders have also had an opportunity to learn about the impact of trauma and have gained insight into how to supervise, manage and integrate sometimes marginalized youth into the company’s headquarters.
Rhoton detailed an example of how important this trauma-informed management and education can be by way of illustrating a potential scenario.
An otherwise capable young person comes to work and ends up in a situation where he might over-react or even emotionally explode because someone took his lunch from the employee refrigerator. According to Rhoton, it might be because he’s lived on the streets and has been informed by survival instincts that could result in an inability to respond to otherwise benign situations with the level of executive function expected in a professional environment. Teaching managers to recognize this and teaching the employee some skills to manage those emotions and learn from them makes all the difference between learning a skill and gaining a career.
Many of the trauma-informed treatments at Hopeworks are informed by the Adverse Childhood Experiences study, a scoring system that numerically ranks a person’s level of trauma on a scale of 0-10 to help them and those around them provide proper executive functioning skills and emotional support. A person is scored based on exposure to trauma that ranges from abuse and neglect to household dysfunction. In Camden, it is not uncommon for a young person to have an ACEs score of between 5 and 9. Studies consistently show that each point on the ACEs scale has a dramatic impact on long-term health outcomes and life expectancy.
“When you grow up without the stability of a safe environment, consistent housing, or the reliability of a decent meal every day, realizing your full potential becomes less urgent than realizing how to simply survive,” Capell explained. “At Subaru we believe everyone deserves the opportunity to unleash their potential and we are privileged to partner with capable nonprofit leaders like Hopeworks that help to create those opportunities for our most vulnerable youth.”
“Most people who live in Camden want to stay in Camden,” Executive Director Jeff Mihalek explained when talking about the organization’s commitment to the community. “We get to work with some great families to help them realize that dream.”
Habitat for Humanity in Camden began investing in housing in the community in the 1980s. The organization works with families to help them get ready for home ownership. This includes comprehensive financial planning classes, basic home maintenance courses, and extensive volunteer hours and community service.
Habitat’s motto is “everyone deserves a decent place to live.” The organization recognizes that housing provides more than a roof over one’s head. It provides strength, stability, and self-reliance. By putting a family in a home, it touches their entire life. When housing needs are met, other priorities, like education, health care, food and transportation are less likely to be sacrificed when struggling to make ends meet.
The need for the kinds of services Habitat provides in the community runs deep. According to 2015 U.S. census data, 40 percent of Camden residents live at or below the poverty line with a median household income of $25,042. Home ownership is at 38%, which is significantly lower than the national average of 64%, yet residents remain committed to their community and are eager for opportunities to turn the page on Camden’s economic hardship story.
“We aren’t looking to just build a house,” added Mihalek. “We are looking to build community, and that can only happen when the families who live in these homes are given the opportunity to contribute and are provided access to the tools they need to be successful.”
Since 1986, Habitat has built 60 houses and is now looking to ramp up that effort. But it cannot do it alone. Through partnerships with local businesses and other organizations, Habitat hopes to build 15 new homes by 2020.
For more than 20 years, Subaru of America has partnered with Habitat for Humanity in Camden to help it realize its goals. To date, more than 300 Subaru of America volunteers have participated in its various programs. In June 2017, more than 50 volunteers from Subaru of America took part in a home build – including members of the executive leadership, led by president Tom Doll. The family that will live in this home was there as well, and the company plans to come back when they move in to welcome them as new neighbors.
While Subaru regularly volunteers on home builds like this one, it also sponsors the builds, investing hard dollars as well as sweat equity into Habitat homes. These kinds of partnerships are important for a community that many believe is poised for turning the page to a new chapter of opportunity.
Camden has had more than its fair share of economic challenges. Once a prosperous community – even through the Great Depression and into World War II – the city began to fall behind when it lost manufacturing jobs and began to feel the flight of suburbanization. While the community has struggled over the years, there has been a lot of recent investment and interest. Long home to Rutgers University and Campbell’s, Camden has added Rowen University and Cooper Medical School. Cooper University Hospital and our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center are also in Camden, and the combination of its educational and medical jobs account for nearly half of Camden’s total employment.
A culturally diverse community across the river from Center City Philadelphia, Camden is also soon to be home to Subaru of America’s new headquarters. While the move may be a physical transplant for the company, it has been invested in creating opportunity in Camden with Habitat for Humanity and other organizations for decades.
“We are inspired by the great work that Habitat does here,” said Sandy Capell, Corporate Responsibility manager of Subaru. “Our employees not only love the opportunity to volunteer and contribute to the community where we spend most of our waking hours, but we also love the opportunity to meet more of our neighbors as we look to create more ways to invest in the future of Camden.”
Since 1986, Subaru and its employees have helped support the Food Bank of South Jersey through regular volunteerism every year via the Subaru Share the Love Garden harvests and our annual “Drive Out Hunger” food drive.
“Subaru has been a valued sponsor and partner for 30 years, and their support has helped us work toward our mission to end hunger each and every day for over 200,000 food-insecure residents in South Jersey,” said Valerie Brown Traore, president and CEO of FBSJ. “We’re excited to welcome Subaru to their new headquarters in Camden, and we look forward to strengthening our partnership as they relocate to one of the communities in greatest need of our services.”
While FBSJ is Subaru’s “home” food bank, company contributions and employee support provided more than 900,000 meals in 2015 to Feeding America and food banks across the United States.
The American Red Cross is synonymous with providing aid and assistance during some of the most difficult times in peoples’ lives, and Subaru has been a supporter of the Red Cross for many years. Now Subaru has elevated its support of the Red Cross by becoming a Platinum 365 Member. This means that Subaru “pre-invests” in relief, ensuring the Red Cross has supplies and people at the ready nationwide, in order to respond, day and night. Subaru’s support enables the Red Cross to better help those in need when disaster strikes, and our support helps Red Cross prevent disasters as well, through programs like home fire prevention and measles eradication.
At Subaru, we decided to elevate our support of the American Red Cross by becoming a Ready Platinum 365 member because we knew it would enable the organization to better provide assistance as soon as it’s needed, and that makes all the difference to those receiving support.
“Subaru has been an incredible partner for many years, and we are excited to welcome them as a Ready 365 Platinum member. Their continued support demonstrates their promise to help their neighbors in need,” said Randi Zamkotowicz of the American Red Cross.
The 365 program is relatively new to the Red Cross, and it allows the organization to do more to help those in need. And while most people think of disaster relief when they think of the Red Cross, that’s just one important piece of the organization’s mission. The Red Cross also helps deployed soldiers get home in case of a family emergency, provides 40 percent of the nation’s blood supply (every unit donated can save up to three lives), and works to eradicate chronic diseases such as measles.
This is in addition to the over 70,000 disasters — large and small — that the Red Cross responds to every year. “Over 90 percent of the disasters we respond to are house fires, and we work to educate residents in areas with the highest incidence of home fires,” said Zamkotowicz. Camden, New Jersey, which is where Subaru of America is building their new headquarters, is one such area. In such places, the Red Cross works with fire departments and fire chiefs and installs smoke detectors in homes where they may not be in place.
House fires and other incidents, such as residential flooding, typically aren’t eligible to receive government funding, so victims of such events often depend on the Red Cross for critical assistance. The Red Cross also provides support for volunteers, as well as for emergency responders, when incidents occur, and this support typically requires significant resources. “When Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012, we raised $350 million to help with disaster response,” explained Zamkotowicz. “$125 million of that was spent in the first week of active response just on providing meals for the volunteers.”