Horizon Services Volunteer: Operation Warm program ‘Hit home for me.’
Vincent always tries to live in the moment. So, when the plumber and contractor for Horizon Services showed up to work one morning last winter and a co-worker was asking for volunteers for a community program, he decided to go for it.
“I hopped on the bus and we drove to the school,” the Philadelphia resident recalled. “I didn’t know what to expect going into it, but I figured I’d go and help, and try to soak it in.”
From the moment he walked into the Baltimore elementary school and started meeting the students, Vincent knew this event, his first with Operation Warm, was something special.
“I would spend one-on-one time with each child and walk them through the process of picking out and trying on their coat,” Vincent said of his role as a greeter. “It was cool to spend time talking and laughing with the kids. We were all having fun.”
The event also presented Vincent and his fellow volunteers with the hard realities faced by these students in need.
“One kid asked if he could bring a coat home for his brother,” Vincent said, adding that other children hesitated when volunteers urged them to try on a different size. The students didn’t want to take the coats off, he said. “It was like they thought they wouldn’t get a coat back.”
Vincent understands better than many how much receiving a brand-new winter coat means for a child in need.
“This experience hit home for me. I’ve been there,” he said. “I grew up in the projects in South Philly. I didn’t grow up having a coat – I really would have appreciated something like this as a kid.”
While these coats have the immediate impact of keeping a child warm, boosting their self-confidence, and improving their overall wellness, Vincent said he also wonders what impact the event will have on their future.
“I would love to meet these kids and talk to them again after they’ve grown,” Vincent said. “I’d love to hear that this moment was a turning point for them. If it impacted how they lived their lives.”
Horizon Services formed a partnership with Operation Warm in 2010 through the Firefighters for Operation Warm program. And in 2016, the partnership was expanded to an employee volunteer program. Since his first event in Baltimore, Vincent has become a passionate advocate for Operation Warm, and volunteered this year at an event in Camden, New Jersey. He tells everyone he works with that if they can, they need to come to an event.
For Vincent, while the most important part of the events is getting coats to children in need, it’s not the only reason he volunteers.
“I really think I get more out of these than the kids do,” Vincent said. “At my first event, I was going through a rough patch in my life. It made me step back and put what I was going through into perspective.”
His advice for someone considering volunteering or starting a partnership with Operation Warm? Do it.
“You have to get involved. It might be hard at times to get away from work, but that will be the hardest part. It’s the coolest thing.”
About Horizon Services: Horizon Services is the Delaware Valley’s largest and most referred home services company, ready to meet all of your service needs for heating, air conditioning, plumbing, drain cleaning and sewer and water line replacement and repair. Horizon Services is also the region’s premier seller and installer of energy-efficient heating and cooling systems.
About Firefighters for Operation Warm: Operation Warm is dedicated to providing new winter coats to U.S. children in need and has reached more than 2 million children since 1998. The International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) represents professional fire fighters who are dedicated to serving their communities beyond the traditional call of duty. In 2012, the IAFF joined Operation Warm in their fight against poverty, forming a localized program, Firefighters for Operation Warm.