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Thursday, January 5, 2017 12:15 am EDT

No Place Like Home

Employees help two local families find a place to call ‘home’

A pair of Massachusetts families started the New Year off right thanks to the work of Habitat for Humanity MetroWest/Greater Worcester volunteers — including several teams of Sanofi Genzyme employees

Habitat has a mission of building homes, communities, and hope as a way of fulfilling their vision of a world where everyone has a decent place to sleep. Habitat houses are built in partnership with the low-income families who are selected to own them; families put in 400-500 hours of work alongside thousands of Habitat volunteers.

Back in June 2016, Jeff Bruno, our Director of Process Engineering, led the first team of employees at the build site in Wayland, Massachusetts. The team spent the day siding, insulating, and preparing surfaces for sheet rock installation. Jeff explains, “We decided to volunteer with Habitat because housing provides so many benefits for families, including stability, comfort, and security. Habitat for Humanity does a great job of involving the homeowners throughout the entire process, which is why it is so successful.”

Later that month, John Duggan, Manager of Facilities Operations for Sanofi Genzyme Framingham Biologics, led another team in the volunteer effort. “The team wanted to give back to the community and also wanted to use the experience we have in our trades,” John said. Employees spent the day working on carpentry, landscaping, and concrete at the Wayland duplex site.

Hearing about the positive experience with Habitat for Humanity, Nancy Lee, Associate Director of Quality, led her team of employees to the site in July. She explained, “Some people used power tools for the first time, stepping outside their comfort zones, and learning skills that they took back home!” The team completed tasks including building stairs and a shed, stuccoing, and the detail work required for interior finishing.

While the work of Habitat is much different than that of a biotech company, Nancy and her team could see a connection: “The Habitat for Humanity folks are an amazing group of people who are in the same business that we’re in: providing hope where there was none before. I think most people walk away from a volunteer experience feeling like they got as much or more out of it as they gave. It’s an amazing circle of giving and receiving that strengthens our relationships with each other and our community. Similar to our own experience when we hear from patients, events like this pull us in and we really get the ‘why’ behind what we do.”

Nearing the end of 2016, Sara Anderson, Quality Control Principal Analyst, led another team of employees to the Wayland site to help put final touches on the home before the families moved in in December. The team spent their day installing wire shelves in closets; hanging bath fixtures; painting baseboards, walls, and trim; and cleaning stairs to prep them for a finishing coat of paint.

Finally, after many months of work, the homes are almost ready for their families to move in. Deborah Huegel, Director of Development at Habitat for Humanity MetroWest/Greater Worcester, told us the duplex home built at the Wayland site would be occupied by two families. One is a single mother with five daughters, all of whom attend Wayland Public Schools. The mother is thankful and thrilled to finally have an affordable home in a safe community near their school. The other family, from Worcester, consists of a single mother with two children. The mother recently completed training to work in law enforcement and is thrilled to have her family settled in a safe and affordable home.

In addition to the Wayland home build, our employees have become involved in multiple ways. Last September, Nancy Strisik, Senior Administrative Assistant, Rare Hematological Diseases and Rare Endocrinology and Pediatrics, organized a team of employees from our Rare Diseases business to take part in Habitat’s “Operation Playhouse” program. Rather than working on a home build, this team constructed a playhouse that they then presented to the family of a veteran.

From start to finish, Nancy’s team painted, roofed, and decorated the playhouse. The team was even present when the playhouse was presented to the family. “It was awesome! The little girl loved the little barn. She ran toward it as soon as she saw it.”

Since 2014, we have proudly supported the work of the nonprofit organization Habitat for Humanity MetroWest/Greater Worcester and we are thrilled to have so many employees who are equally as passionate about supporting its mission to help families in need.

Last Updated: 2/22/2017
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