Day of Service donated to Aurora

Published 11:10 pm Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Courtney Miller (front) and other pharmaceutical reps with Eli Lilly and Company, wear signature red T-shirts beneath protective gear, as they volunteered with United Methodist Disaster Recovery Services in Aurora, part of the company’s Global Day of Service. On Thursday, the volunteers came from across eastern North Carolina to help rebuild homes destroyed during Hurricane Irene over a year ago. Since Lilly’s first Global Day of Service in 2008, Lilly volunteers around the world have given nearly 500,000 volunteer hours, a value estimated at about $10 million. (Contributed Photo/Mark Hamblin)

Pharmaceutical reps descended upon Aurora last Thursday night, prepared to work from dawn to dusk on Friday. Oddly, they weren’t there to sell meds. Instead, they scraped ceilings and ripped out mold-infested carpet and floor tiles over buckling floors.
These reps work for Eli Lilly, an international pharmaceutical company, and their trip to Aurora was part of the company’s Global Day of Service. Across the world red-shirted Lilly employees took a day off from their regular jobs to lend their assistance where needed. This year, according to organizer Rebecca Soplata, they were needed in Aurora.
Soplata was looking for a cause for her Day of Service volunteers, a place “where we can put our efforts to greatest use.” Through Beaufort County United Way Executive Director Mark Hamblin, Soplata heard about ongoing efforts to rebuild after the devastation of Hurricane Irene and how, more than a year later, many families remain displaced and homes have yet to be rebuilt.
She made arrangements through the North Carolina Conference of United Methodist Church disaster response services to get herself and her crew of 10 on site.
Two teams took on two separate houses, demolishing destroyed ceilings and floors, removing the debris and clearing the way for the rebuilding to come. After doing the demo work, they set to cleaning the bunkhouse and shower trailer for the volunteers who come from across the country and provinces in Canada to aid in recovery efforts.
“We got (our) hands dirty and got to get in and help for the better good of the community, even though it wasn’t a community that we live in,” Soplata said.
“The level of appreciation — there were people who feel like everyone kind of forgot about them,” said Soplata of the response to the volunteers’ efforts.
Soplata made a point of talking about media coverage of Hurricane Irene in larger markets, and how she, and fellow Lilly employees, had never heard of Aurora. She said she hoped their efforts in Aurora will bring more awareness of a small town, still in need.
“You want to do it more because you know how much it means,” she added.
Soplata said Lilly donates time and money to philanthropic causes year round: Ronald McDonald House, Habitat for Humanity, Toys for Tots, making packages to send to soldiers overseas. The company’s Global Day of Service was created in 2008, and according to the Lilly website, since then, its employees in more than 40 countries have given nearly 500,000 hours through Global Day of Service initiatives, making it one of the largest single-day volunteer programs in the world.
To volunteer for Hurricane Irene recovery efforts, call 888-440-9167, NCCUMC’s disaster recovery call center. To donate to recovery efforts, send funds to NCCUMC-Hurricane Irene, 700 Waterfield Ridge Place, Garner, NC 27529.