2014 has been a milestone in veteran recruitment and support for Marcone, especially for our Peoria, IL branch. Under the direction of warehouse manager Brian Wood, that location has marked the year with one encouraging story after the next.
Beginning with his presence at a job fair in March, Wood (or Woody as he’s known to colleagues) paid special attention to the veterans in attendance that day. A two-time Bronze Star recipient, National Guardsman, and Afghanistan war vet himself, Wood “knows what it’s like to be in their shoes,” he said.
Illinois actually has one of the highest concentrations of veterans in US: more than 800,000 according to a 2010 Veterans Affairs census. Couple that with Peoria’s sobering 9% unemployment rate, and it’s no wonder community leaders like Brian Wood make a special effort to help these men and women find the steady work they want after serving our country.
Not long after that job fair and the hiring of more veterans to join Marcone, Wood and his family moved into a new home built by Habitat for Humanity of Greater Peoria. It was a landmark moment for both the family and the organization; this was the first military home ever constructed by the Habitat group in this region. The project and Wood’s family even received personal support from Congressman Aaron Schock and his Habitat for Heroes program.
In September, another politician took notice of the good things going on at Marcone Peoria. Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, who helped coordinate the March career fair, stopped off for a visit to the warehouse and to help honor Jason Barton with an Employee of the Month award. Barton, a former Marine and veteran of both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, was directed to Marcone through the area Goodwill veteran employment program—and supervisor Brian Wood hired him along with three other vets through the program. At present, more than half of the workforce at the Peoria warehouse is made up of veterans.
Then just last month, Wood, Barton, and a team of Marcone volunteers assisted with their local Goodwill charity event for veterans. Operation Stand Down happened on October 11th and was dedicated to outfitting homeless vets with basic necessities and connecting them to services throughout the community. According to Wood, “In our tri-county area, there’s a staggering number of homeless veterans—approximately 1,200.”
So volunteers staffed stations equipped with blankets, clothes, outerwear, backpacks, hygiene kits, first aid supplies, and more. The event even offered haircuts, resumé classes, job training, hot meals, and health screenings.
Marcone has a longstanding history of supporting military personnel, their families, and veterans—it’s something that runs deep through our corporate culture. By backing organizations like MSCCN and CASY, HEROES Care, Fischer House Foundation, and the USO, we make it a point to let service members, their loved ones, our communities, and the corporate world know how much our military men and women are appreciated. With employees like Brian Wood and his team in Peoria helping to lead the charge, we’re confident that point of reverence is getting across.