Giving back to our communities is an important part of our culture at AvePoint, and our teams around the world participate regularly in volunteer efforts to support those around us who need it most. With that in mind, AvePoint Chicago originally had a day set aside to participate in the popular Chicago Cares’ annual Serve-a-thon. However, when a devastating tornado hit Coal City, IL, on Monday, June 21, we decided our efforts would be better served there.
Coal City is located 65 miles southwest of Chicago, so AvePoint Public Sector CEO Chris Forman rented a van and drove our team of AvePoint volunteers to participate in the Red Cross clean-up efforts in the area.
Once on site, our entire team of 11 donned neon safety vests, gloves, and glasses and boarded a bus to a badly hit area across from Coal City Middle School. In total, 884 properties in the area were struck by the tornado, which was a category 3 on the EF scale, meaning it caused severe damage.
We worked to remove debris – including shingles, dry wall, and even holiday decorations – from three separate yards in the area. The houses on two out of the three properties where we worked were so badly damaged, unfortunately, that they were set to be demolished entirely in the near future.
As we worked, we had the opportunity to speak with area residents, including a man who was rescued from his house after the tornado struck. Our entire team was amazed at what great spirits the locals were in despite their circumstances and how appreciative they were of our efforts. It was a long day of hard, manual work, but our team was more than happy to step up and do our part to help this community get back on its feet.
Special thanks to my fellow AvePoint Chicago volunteers Joe Bartnick, Andrew Winter, Jordan Harvey, Tom Ward, Justina Weisensel, Chris Foreman, Melissa Masanek, Kevin Burk, Ramie Ayoub and Nick Carr!