Latitude Commercial employees lent their time at TradeWinds in Merrillville on Friday, September 23. This was part of a volunteer day for Latitude, where the company got to work cleaning 12 of TradeWinds’ transportation buses.
TradeWinds has offered services aimed at helping a variety of people in Northwest Indiana for over 55 years. The company provides support through various programs for those with disabilities and also has inclusive programs for others, such as childcare programs and employment programs for teenagers and young adults.
Volunteers are a big part of the TradeWinds culture, and the company wouldn’t be where it is today without the help and support of those who donate their time to give them a hand. While many past volunteer projects have been more focused on activities such as updating the physical landscape of the building, Latitude decided to take a different route this time around.
“It's a huge relief, honestly,” said TradeWinds Community Liaison Michelle Novak. “This is something that we have never done before with the vehicles. Normally, we have a lot of volunteer groups go to one of our residential sites and do a landscaping project, Fall cleanup, or any kind of project like that. This is the first time we've done this, which is exciting. We're just happy to have them here. It's going to be a significant help.”
TradeWinds was excited to hear that Latitude was interested in cleaning the buses, as they were all in need of some freshening up. The company was greatly appreciative of Latitude’s help in making this happen, especially since the TradeWinds staff is always so busy with daily schedules.
“We gave them a few options, and they selected cleaning all of our vehicles because we have a slew of them, and we can’t clean them ourselves,” said Novak. “We don't necessarily have a janitorial crew that cleans just the vehicles. They're constantly in and out transporting clients from the building, to home, to work, etc, so we rely on our drivers to do it, and a lot of times it's just hard to get to. We tend to just jump in and do it to help out as employees, but having Latitude come out today to do this is huge; it's significant. We have so many people that we transport so we must keep the vehicles clean and sanitized. It's exciting to have the Latitude team here to help with this.”
This isn’t the first time the companies have worked together, either, making this project even more exciting this time around. Brett McDermott, co-founder and senior vice president of Latitude Commercial, has worked with TradeWinds in the past and has said that they are a really neat organization.
“They've been around for a long time and Aaron McDermott knows Michelle Novak pretty well. We connected and reached out to her to see what services she might be able to utilize us for today,” McDermott said.
Additionally, when the COVID-19 pandemic was at its height a few years ago, Latitude and Sysco Foods teamed up to donate food to eight of TradeWinds’ group homes and all of their residential sites, which is where most of their clients live.
Latitude Commercial and TradeWinds have also participated in many volunteer events in the past, and McDermott recalled an event that he enjoyed.
“We've done a couple of different events. Last week, TradeWinds held a bowling event where teams of three are matched up with one of Tradewinds participants. They get to interact and bowl with a group of three people outside of the organization. It's just a really good time. I liked that event,” McDermott said.
Although there are no events currently in the works for Latitude Commercial and TradeWinds, McDermott expressed that he is open to the opportunity of collaborating with TradeWinds again in the future.
“They're just genuine people. They truly care about giving back. They're local, and they just invest in their community, and that comes back full circle,” Novak said.
For more information about TradeWinds Services, visit tradewindsnwi.org.
For more information about Latitude Commercial, visit latitudeco.com.