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GM Financial builds habitats for humanity

2014, Habitat for Humanity, GM Financial

Earlier this month, 58 GM Financial volunteers worked to build two houses as part of the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project supporting Trinity Habitat for Humanity and Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity. The Work Project, which had 5,000 volunteers from across the U.S. building more than 100 houses in two Dallas–Fort Worth neighborhoods, began Monday and ran through Saturday.

Due to a generous donation from the GM Foundation, employees from GM's Arlington Assembly Plant, GM's local regional office and team members from GM Financial called Fort Worth House #7 and Dallas House #13 home for the week.

By Wednesday, Silvia Barerra, Assistant Vice President Commercial Vehicle Lending (CVL), and a dozen other CVL volunteers were unrolling weather-proofing sheets for the roof, holding large sheets of drywall to be drilled in place and installing soffits on the roof between the beams.

"Several of our volunteers from CVL had volunteered for Habitat for Humanity before. We'd always done what I call superficial work: planting shrubs or painting walls," Barerra recalled. "Not this time! This was a lot of work. It was actual physical labor."

A memorable moment occurred for one team member on Wednesday. Jeff Young, Vice President of Commercial Servicing, was selected by the GM Foundation for a special honor at the build site. He volunteered alongside Former President Jimmy Carter.

"I was very surprised and humbled to be working with President and Mrs. Carter," Young said. "This wasn’t a PR junket for them. They both worked as hard as anyone on our crew and definitely set the standard; Mr. Carter was at it from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. non-stop. He's 90 now, but you’d never know it. The opportunity to work with the Carter's was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I enjoyed very much."

And, if working alongside a former President wasn't honor enough, Young had a brush with Secret Service.

"There were TV crews on site all day taking pictures and videos. A tent was set up right near me for the networks to interview President Carter. Apparently, I interrupted an interview with all of the noise from my sawing. The Secret Service had to stop the interview and ask me to hold off on the noise, which I found pretty funny."

Throughout the week, a common theme was noted by the many people who volunteer their time with Habitat for Humanity: experiences like these are made possible in large part because of benevolent companies allowing their employees paid-time off to volunteer. Through GM Financial's Community Investment program, full-time team members receive eight paid hours per quarter and four hours for part-time team members to volunteer for an approved non-profit agency.

"Every single one of us has talked about how great the experience was," Barerra summarized. "The experience was so rewarding."