This past winter, historic storms hit communities across the U.S., placing 154 million Americans under winter weather alerts in a single day across the country. Millions were left without electricity, heat or water while others dealt with storm damage.
Among them was Brene Duffield, a Levi Strauss & Co. employee in Westlake, Texas. Brene’s apartment building, like most in Texas, was not built with extreme winter weather in mind. Pipes froze as the temperatures dropped, and it wasn’t long before one burst and flooded her apartment.
Luckily Brene, who works in our Human Resources department, knew she had a unique resource to help her in a time of need: LS&Co.’s Red Tab Foundation (RTF), our hardship fund dedicated to helping employees and retirees.
“In my role, I’m used to providing support and resolution, so it felt great to be on the receiving end when I was really in need,” said Brene.
Brene wasn’t the only employee struggling in the face of this storm. Ten employees, including Brene, were in unlivable conditions due to storm damage or lack of heat, water and electricity, and even more needed support with groceries and shelter. RTF ultimately helped 200 families dealing with the worst impacts in the form of grocery support, emergency shelter and help with critical home repairs.
For many hourly employees, an unexpected expense, like repairing a burst pipe or days-long hotel stay, can lead to a snowball effect of financial hardships. And that can lead to high interest debt, past due bills that lead to disconnection of services, or forgoing important expenses like insurance. It’s not just hourly employees, either — 37% of Americans do not have enough savings to cover a $400 emergency expense.
That’s where funds like RTF can help. “Hardship funds can act as a vital tool in helping absorb some of the shock of an unexpected expense before it turns into something more. We’re able to act as a buffer between the clients we serve and the impacts of financial instability,” said Jenny Rodriguez, RTF’s executive director.
This assistance is invaluable to our employees and retirees who find themselves in these circumstances and goes beyond mere financial support. Hardship funds like RTF, which are primarily funded by fellow employees, help maintain employees’ financial health and demonstrate our belief in empathy in a very real way.
“RTF to me means family. It’s a place that I know I can depend on when things go wrong,” said Brene. “I’m so grateful for the people who continuously support people. The RTF team is amazing.”
Learn more about what RTF does in their 2020 Annual Report.