Impact, Financial well-being, Wildfire

In the wake of the Maui wildfires, one individual finds help and hope

Early in the morning on August 8, 2023, a small brush fire broke out on the island of Maui. By the end of that day, wildfires had devastated the town of Lahaina, decimated homes and businesses, and forced thousands to evacuate. The wildfires would also become the deadliest in modern U.S. history, claiming 100 lives.

In the days and weeks that followed, the level of need ran high, and those who survived faced an uncertain future. They did not know where they would live, if their homes could be salvaged or if they could get to work. This is the story of one of these individuals, who fortunately was able to find the support he needed during this unimaginable crisis.

The applicant had been living and working on the island of Maui with his girlfriend when the fires forced the couple from their apartment. They escaped unharmed, but their building burned to the ground. In the weeks that followed, friends and coworkers welcomed them into their homes, giving them shelter when they otherwise would have had none.

Few among us plan for a natural disaster. In fact, a recent study found that the majority of U.S. adults (57%) could not afford an emergency $1,000 expense. And more than one in five Americans have no emergency savings at all. That lack of financial resources can compound the effects of a natural disaster, giving people few options as they attempt to rebuild their homes and their lives.

This individual faced similar financial strain in the wake of the fires. It was not immediately clear if or when his apartment building would be rebuilt. And he could only rely on the kindness of friends and coworkers for so long.

In search of a more permanent solution, the individual reached out to a local church, where generous volunteers helped him and his girlfriend find a new apartment. But they still needed help covering the cost of basic needs and unexpected expenses until they could get back on solid footing.

Then, the individual learned of his company’s emergency relief program and turned there for help. He applied and, once approved, received a tax-free grant to help him and his girlfriend regain financial stability and once again have a place to call home.

“This has to be the most memorable work experience I’ve ever come across,” he wrote in a note of thanks after receiving his grant. “I’m glad to share it with such incredible people.”

Stories like this are why we do what we do. We empower companies to support the members of their workforce during times of disaster or personal hardship, and the results speak for themselves. We are beyond grateful to know that our emergency financial relief programs have been able to support thousands of individuals impacted by the Maui wildfires, as well as millions more around the world who are facing crisis. And we look forward to providing more hope during hardship as we head into the new year.

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