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Nielsen Volunteers Help Houston Recover After Hurricane Harvey

3 minute read | December 2017

At Nielsen, we understand the value of giving back. While we have created several programs to foster responsibility and sustainability in our business and the communities we serve, our people power these programs. From Nielsen Cares, our global volunteer program, to the Nielsen Foundation, which increases our employees’ impact when they give back to our communities—we encourage employees to identify and lead projects that are important to them and align with our strategy.

This past August, Jake Comito, an associate within our Emerging Leaders Program, recognized a community that needed help after Hurricane Harvey hit Houston and lead to widespread flooding. Working with Nielsen Cares, Jake banded together with fellow employees to make an impact.

In the beginning of December, Jake and 16 other Emerging Leader Associates traveled to Houston and worked with All Hands and Hearts – Smart Response to muck, gut and sanitize homes that were broken-down by the storms. During the two-week trip, the group logged 571.5 volunteer hours and supported six families affected by the hurricane.

As the project’s lead, Jake thoroughly researched groups working directly with people in need, secured funding, coordinated logistics and partnered with the appropriate internal departments. Through volunteer and community engagement, All Hands and Hearts – Smart Response aims to help families recover faster after natural disasters using our “smart response” strategy. All Hands and Hearts focuses on connecting to communities, being open among employees and volunteers, and prioritizing all stakeholders’ needs.

Onsite in Houston, All Hands and Hearts taught Nielsen employees how to make the biggest possible impact from the moment they arrived to the second they flew back home. Volunteers transformed into sanitation specialists each day, working to make an impact that homeowners described as “unbelievable,” “unthinkable,” and “truly special.”

These accomplishments highlight the power of just one employee to make profound impact at Nielsen, but they also reflect the support of the larger Nielsen community. Jake’s idea was encouraged by his peers, his Emerging Leaders Program manager, and the Global Responsibility and Sustainability team. With their guidance, he was able to see this project from start to finish.

“We rely on the passion of our employees, and we depend on their unique skills and expertise to make great things happen at Nielsen and beyond. Jake’s leadership on this project is a testament of that spirit,” said Crystal Barnes, SVP Global Responsibility and Sustainability at Nielsen and Executive Director of the Nielsen Foundation.

The project also brought together the entire Nielsen community, both onsite and virtually. Employees from different offices who otherwise do not work on the same projects had the chance to work together. Jordan Tite, an Emerging Leader Associate in San Francisco, noted “[It] has been enriching because we get to meet and work with people from all walks of life, yet are all connected through the same goal to help others in need.” And outside of the volunteer group, Nielsen associates followed the group’s photos and videos through the internal Nielsen social media network.

In tandem with this volunteer commitment, the Nielsen Foundation also announced that they would make a grant of $40,000 for disaster relief efforts in Houston and around the world across three organizations, including All Hands and Hearts. In addition, the Nielsen Foundation matched an almost $10,000 raised by employees during the week of Giving Tuesday.