In late 2019, Edith Hayes, plant manager at PPG’s Mojave aerospace facility in California, formed an onsite recognition and engagement team to support the local Kern County community. Little did she know, that in a few months this team would spearhead the efforts to provide food and shelter to local homeless families whose children attend the Mojave Elementary School amidst a global pandemic.
“In times of adversity, it’s our duty to be good corporate citizens and offer a helping hand to those who have fallen on hard times,” said Hayes. “The employees at our facility saw a tremendous need within our community and have done an outstanding job of attempting to fill the void.”
Prior to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, members of the facility had planned to participate in a COLORFUL COMMUNITIES® project to rejuvenate the elementary school with color and messages of hope. When the project was postponed, the team quickly realized that their support of the local students and their families couldn’t wait.
Helping families during the COVID-19 crisis
That’s when customer services manager and Mojave Elementary School volunteer, Sheila Ramirez, connected with the school principal to see how the PPG family could help those struggling during the pandemic.
“The need is real and it’s right here in our backyard,” said Ramirez. “More than 70 percent of the students within the school district are low poverty, and a large number of those students live with their families in cars, hotel rooms and even on the streets.”
Over the past few months, Mojave employees have donated hotel and grocery vouchers out of their own pockets and the kindness of their hearts to three local homeless families whose children that attend Mojave Elementary.
“While the COVID-19 pandemic is beyond devastating, I truly believe that it unveiled the magnitude of need within our community, which might not have been fully realized before,” added Ramirez. “Now more than ever is our chance to pay it forward. During my 30 years with PPG, I have never been more proud of my colleagues and their generosity than I am right now.”
Providing food assistance
In addition to the three homeless families, the school provides support for hundreds of elementary students and their loved ones, who are not able to afford daily meals seven days a week.
The Mojave Elementary School also has a “no ask” care closet on facility grounds, which mainly offers food and clothing for students to take home to their families at no cost. However, its supplies have depleted greatly since the pandemic. For many families without means of transportation, this is their only source reliable of food, as the nearest food bank is often 12 miles away.
Recently, the PPG Foundation provided a grant to the Mojave Elementary School to support local children and their families who rely on the life-sustaining provisions and services provided by the school.
“On this Giving Tuesday, we are grateful, honored and humbled to be able to not only provide words of encouragement to our local community, but to back up those words with immediate action and finance support,” said Hayes. “This is not just a onetime thing, our PPG family will diligently continue to support our community and the families who call Kern County home for years to come.”