WASHINGTON – Last month, officials from the Home Depot Foundation announced a $50 million pledge to veterans nonprofits and a goal of completing 300 veterans service projects nationwide before Veterans Day next month. Frank Blake Jr., a district manager for the company’s central Virginia stores, said he’s had no shortage of volunteers since then.
“If anything, we’ve had more volunteers than we can fit on our projects,” he said. “It’s great. I think it’s a recognition of the sacrifice that veterans have made for the country, and a chance for our employees to give back.”
This week, Blake and volunteers from his district spent time renovating the Paralyzed Veterans of America’s Mid-Atlantic headquarters in Richmond, Va., as part of that 300-project goal. Blake said the project gave his group a chance to not only build goodwill in the community, but also to highlight the ongoing needs of veterans.
The company’s focus on veterans housing issues is a great source of pride for Blake, a former Army captain and the fourth generation of his family to serve in combat with the 4th Infantry Division. But he’s also the son of Home Depot’s CEO (the younger Frank Blake notes he worked at the company before his father's promotion) which gives him a direct line to the top to talk about a variety of corporate priorities, including recognizing those veterans.
“He didn’t serve, but I know he has always been proud of my service,” Blake said. “I know my service helped shape who I was as a leader. He sees that, too.”
The $50 million pledge is on top of $30 million the foundation has already spent on veterans housing issues. About 10 percent of the company’s workforce are veterans. Blake said four of his 11 store managers served in the military, and many other employees have friends or family who served.
“I want it to be part of our DNA,” he said. “It’s a responsibility and a privilege to be able to give back.”