The evolving global pandemic and high number of natural disasters over the past year have continued introducing unique challenges to our neighbors, communities, and planet. In the midst of this, we have seen people all over the world stepping up to the plate to care for one another in new and creative ways. As we look back on 2021, we are touched by the impact we see others having and proud of what we've been able to impact ourselves.
At GAF we are committed to making the lives of our people, our communities, and our planet better. This is the underlying goal of all GAF's Social Impact work, which enables us to bring our values to life and empower an employee base that is dedicated to helping our communities thrive.
We continue to help our employees and communities cope with the pandemic and natural disasters, and are now working proactively to establish greater resilience in those communities. There's a lot to celebrate this year, but first and foremost we celebrate the dedication and commitment of our incredible employees as they get out into their communities.
A top priority at GAF is creating a positive impact for our people. We provide a range of opportunities for people to make a living in a safe and healthy environment, and promote a culture where we're always evolving and creating opportunities for growth. Additionally, we empower employees to get involved in their communities in a way that is meaningful for them. We give our team the tools to invest their time, talent and resources in the communities where they live and work. We do this through offering paid time off for volunteering, as well as funding a company match for donations made to qualifying nonprofit organizations. Through the efforts of our employees, both in the workplace and beyond, we are able to carry out our commitment to protect what matters most, and create a positive impact for our people.
In addition to focusing on our people, we want to make sure that our communities are better off because GAF is part of them. We strive to be more than an employer in the areas we operate- instead, contributing as an integral part of community life. We established a network of Community Champions across our organization so that the employees who are closest to their communities can drive our impact. These champions helped activate more of our employee base to expand their skills and increase their involvement in our communities. The work they accomplished in 2021 supports a wide range of causes, including volunteering at food banks to help with food insecurity, volunteering on habitat for humanity builds to combat housing insecurity, teaming up across all GAF locations to make blankets to distribute to those in immediate need following a disaster - and the list goes on. Under the influence of this dedicated network, GAF employee volunteer hours increased by 125 % in 2021
Finally, we invest in the biggest picture: ensuring that our planet is better off because we exist. To do this, we pay close attention to minimizing our carbon and overall environmental footprint. For instance, we improved circularity in the roofing sector in North America by innovating technology and processes to take back shingles, recycle them and reuse them in our shingles manufacturing, while minimizing waste.
While it would be impossible to celebrate every story and employee individually, the initiatives below represent examples of our collective impact and showcase the many ways we've been able to help our communities.
Investing in Wylie Park - Chester, SC
In the middle of Chester, SC sits historic Wylie Park - a 48 acre recreational park and community hub. This year, GAF partnered with the community, local government, schools, and other businesses to fund renovations that made the park usable to the entire community, from preschool children to senior citizens. Surrounding residents now have access to an ADA compliant space to gather, exercise, and play.
Expanding the Shafter Learning Center - Shafter, CA
The Shafter Learning Center offers a range of learning experiences for the surrounding community. Courses include everything from science, history, and literature, to experiences where students learn to build a rocket or study the science of food. Unfortunately, it was running out of room. GAF has been partnering closely with the Shafter community to identify and design an expansion for the space - collecting input on priorities and design in partnership with Project for Public Spaces. This space will also have added outdoor facilities which will allow more community members to safely benefit from the center. The expansion is expected to open in January 2022.
Habitat for Humanity Tuscaloosa "Blitz Build" - Tuscaloosa, AL
GAF has a deep rooted relationship with Habitat for Humanity of Tuscaloosa, which has allowed us to make a tangible difference in the Tuscaloosa community. An example of this partnership in action is Habitat for Humanity's Blitz Build for Tuscaloosa resident, Verna Smith. The Tuscaloosa plant provided volunteers every day for the five-day build, and in just one week, the team turned a slab on the ground into a house. By Friday, Verna stood in front of her new home. Thank you to all the employees who dedicated their time and energy to this project!
It's About Building Resiliency: For Our People, Communities, and Planet
Our communities are best served when we help them build the resilience to thrive in the face of future challenges. Resilience is about sturdy roofs that can withstand natural disasters - but it's also about education and human connection. It's about the relationships we build with each other and the natural world so that when the inevitable happens, we are able to recover.
With that principle guiding decisions about what work we do and how we go about doing it, we look forward to what we can do together in 2022 for our communities, one another, and our planet.
To learn more about GAF's community impact, click here.