Recover and rebuild: After the devastation of Hurricane Ian, thousands of people in South and Central Florida face this overwhelming task. For Target, it was important to provide support on two fronts. It began with our $5 million commitment to the communities most impacted, with funding to support local and national disaster response partners. The American Red Cross is already at work distributing the meals and relief supplies, and nonprofit Team Rubicon began clearing roads and fallen trees so first responders and citizens could get through.
And we knew our team needed our support, too. Those who were hard-hit by Ian also had immediate needs, especially those whose homes were damaged or lost power. Think clean water to drink, a place to wash clothes, fuel for your car. To help our team members in the region get access to essentials — and offer a small boost during a truly difficult time — Target took a personal approach by creating our first Team Member Resource Centers.
Located at two Fort Myers area stores, the centers put Target’s culture of care front and center. Hundreds of team members pitched in to launch and run the centers, with planning taking place over only a matter of days among teams across the company.
“The hurricane hit the Fort Myers area especially hard, destroying homes and leaving hundreds of team members without power or basics like food, water and fuel,” says Group Vice President Roman Staszko, who helped coordinate onsite relief efforts. “We knew we couldn’t relieve all the pain and heartbreak, but we could provide some of those desperately needed essentials and show our team members how much we care.”
Dozens of team members from stores throughout the South Florida region volunteered to staff the centers, with some traveling from more than three hours away to offer their support. From unloading boxes to giving a comforting hug, these team members stepped up and pitched in without hesitation.
“Some lost everything,” says volunteer Mark Lilley, an assets protection business partner. “We wanted to be there for the team the moment we were able to.”
Comforts of home
The resource centers offered not only immediate essentials for team members, their families and guests in dire need, but also some of the basic comforts of home. These included access to services like restrooms, showers and even a mobile laundry facility, which was especially helpful. Local team members lined up to fill carts with food, bottled water, diapers and other grocery essentials supplied by our distribution center team in Tifton, Georgia. As South Florida grappled with fuel shortages in the wake of Hurricane Ian, we also distributed gasoline to team members and their families from onsite tanker trucks at both centers — another first for Target.
Over five days, teams at our resource centers passed out thousands of bottles of water, pumped gas from two tankers of gasoline and offered supplies and support to more than 700 team members. And to help team members shouldering the many hardships of the storm, we offered on-site counseling as well as immediate medical assistance and advice.
Some comfort after the storm
For team members affected by Ian, the centers proved to be a source of stability and comfort.
Kylie Lamba, an executive team lead for service and engagement at one of our Fort Myers area stores, saw her home destroyed during the hurricane. At a local resource center, she was able to line up financial assistance and stock up on food, supplies and other comforts of home — even toys for her daughter. “We lost everything, so being able to come home with toys for her to play with is so amazing,” Kylie says.
For team member Patty Coppolino, the warm hugs and friendly smiles that greeted her at the center were just as welcome as the fuel for her car and the food for dinner. Like Lamba, she also found a welcome distraction — a deck of UNO cards, which she planned to use to teach her grandson the game. “I don’t know where I’d be without this support,” Patty says. “The feeling of love means so much.”
And for those team members from surrounding areas who dedicated their time, the resource center effort demonstrated how Team Target shows up and can make a difference.
“The way we show up and care for one another is something that sets Target apart from its competitors,” Mark Lilley says. “[We are] truly second to none.”
From response to rebuild
While the Team Member Resource Centers offered the immediate essentials, our effort to support South Florida team members and their communities doesn’t end there. Team members impacted by the hurricane can apply for financial assistance from Target’s Team Member Giving Fund, which is supported by team member donations. Target’s matching any new donations dollar-for-dollar up to $3 million.
Learn more about how Target prepares for and supports our teams, guests and communities during natural disasters.