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Advice / Career Paths / Exploring Careers

How One Woman's Personal Struggle Inspired Volunteerism At Her Company

When you're looking for a job, you typically research the company and the position, making sure they're a right fit for your skill set. Then, you may take it a step further and see if your values align with the company's.

This is something that Enterprise's Vice President of Corporate Sales for the Atlanta market, Heather Pastrick, drives home when she's talking to a lot of her team's new hires—she wants them to learn about the family they've joined, and the values upon which the company was founded..

“Renting cars is what we do," she says, “but Enterprise is so much more than that. We're in a great place as a company to give back."

An Issue That Hits Home

Heather started to give back five years ago with one of Enterprise's corporate partners, Allscripts, when the two organizations teamed up to deliver 2,000 lunches to children in need, as part of the United Way of Greater Atlanta Silence the Growl effort.

When she asked the United Way how many children in Cobb County, Georgia, where Heather lives, were impacted by food insecurity, she was shocked to discover that on a daily basis one out of every four kids in Georgia lives in a food insecure household. Instead of feeling defeated, Heather rose to the challenge. She knew she could do more.

"Because of what I’ve experienced in my own life, I see giving back as my obligation to pay it forward," Heather says.

Food insecurity, particularly when experienced by children, hits close to home for Heather.

She grew up in a single family household, with a mother in the military, so Heather took on a lot of responsibility. In high school, while her mother was deployed overseas during Desert Storm, she had to manage the family's finances, making sure they could write a check for the month's rent and still be able to afford groceries.

For Heather, her packed lunches were normally leftovers from the night before along with frozen milk that was bought at the commissary because it was 30 cents cheaper there. Meanwhile, the other kids were packing pricey fruit snacks.

While they had a guardian with them during that time, the responsibilities that were heaped on her shoulders are more than most teenagers have to face.

But from a young age her mother taught her the importance of giving back, even if that meant lending your time rather than your money.

Bigger and Bolder

The second year Heather organized her event, the volunteers more than doubled the amount of lunches delivered to 5,000. Last year, that number was nearly 16,000 and this year, it's up to 25,000 lunches.

It's hard to know just how she manages such a massive undertaking, but oddly enough, Heather confesses that aside from the actual prep and delivery of the food, it doesn't take much. Normally, she's up at 4 AM and she can handle any issues that pop up during her commute. You might wonder what kind of person can wake up at 4 AM and send a coherent email. But if you meet Heather, you’ll get it. Her energy is boundless.

Logistically speaking, there are a lot of moving parts to the entire operation. Sourcing the food, the paper bags to hold the lunches, the boxes that carry the bags, the vehicles that transport the food and, well, you get the idea. Heather couldn't do it without Enterprise's corporate partners who donate food and other supplies or the countless Enterprise volunteers who show up to make sandwiches.

Finding Perspective

It's important to Heather to work for a company that not only values giving back to the communities where it operates but also understands the real problem of food insecurity around the globe. Just last year, the Enterprise Rent-A-Car Foundation (Enterprise’s philanthropic arm) launched one of the largest donations aimed at fighting hunger.

With its Fill Your Tank initiative, Enterprise will donate $60 million over the next six years to help fight hunger and support food banks across the globe. It means the world to Heather to be a part of a company that's so devoted to ending hunger and providing for the needy, and that gives her the chance to volunteer in a way where she can really make a difference.

Last year, Heather went on one of the final runs to a community center to drop off lunches and realized there was some extra ham. Not wanting to let it go to waste, she asked if the director would take it. He told her they would take whatever she had.

"These kids might not get another meal until Monday," he added.

This was on a Friday afternoon.

"You think about the things that we worry about on a given day at work or in life," Heather says, "and it really just puts everything into perspective. No kid should have to go Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday and not get another meal in their tummy until Monday. That's crazy. But it's a reality."

While Heather has had a successful career, she admits she still feels like the girl pinching pennies to buy groceries.

And it's that hard won perspective that continues to motivate and inspire her.