Through financial donations from the Hargrove Foundation, employees from the Hargrove Team of companies offer their generosity, compassion, and involvement to make a difference in the local community.
Founded in 2011, the Hargrove Foundation was created to assist several communities after devastating tornadoes hit central Alabama. Since that time, the 501(c)-3 nonprofit has expanded to serve a wider variety of needs, including education, arts, and culture; health and human services; qualified sports activities; relief for communities affected by natural disasters; and more.
The organization recently celebrated their ten-year anniversary, and achieved a significant milestone in 2021, having distributed more than $2 million to charitable causes across the country. “We are excited to reach this point in our charitable giving,” says Micki Kohn, President of the Board for the Hargrove Foundation. “It’s incredible to think of the thousands of lives that have been positively impacted by the $2.5MM we’ve now funneled back to our communities.”
The Hargrove Foundation is a grassroots effort; the organization has no paid employees and is governed by an all-volunteer Board of Directors consisting of both Hargrove Teammates and outside community members across the country.
Hargrove encourages participation and/or donation pledges from Teammates across all 17 of the company’s offices, and participation is optional. More than ten years after its inception, Teammate engagement is still increasing year over year.
Hargrove’s Teammates are passionate about the Foundation and its mission, engaging their personal networks of family and friends to support events and fundraisers. Hargrove Teammates and the general public may submit grant requests on the Foundation’s website.
While chaperoning a school field trip in 2015, Hargrove Instrumentation Engineer Michelle Jones became acquainted with the mother of a child with mobility impairment. As the two chatted, Michelle learned of a conundrum that mobility-impaired children face: health insurance will not cover a motorized wheelchair until there is proof that the child is able to operate it, yet these children cannot learn to use a motorized wheelchair until they have access to one. Michelle heard firsthand of the long wait to get training on a motorized wheelchair and subsequent hardships the family suffered. Michelle wanted to help; she applied to the Hargrove Foundation for financial support but knew that engineering expertise would be needed to affect real change.
This chance meeting spawned a complementary organization to the Hargrove Foundation, harGIVES (Hargrove Innovative Volunteer Engineering Services Organization), a group which allows passionate volunteers to take on a variety of creative, hands-on projects. Prior to this initiative, Teammates often found themselves presented with situations like Michelle faced, where a community need was identified, and engineering and technical expertise could be used to meet that need. Michelle was instrumental in launching harGIVES, a 501(c)-3 organization, and serves as its Executive Director and Project Manager along with her regular work duties. harGIVES is the mechanism through which Hargrove Teammates with various areas of expertise come together to make a difference providing access to organizational, multi-discipline engineering, and financial resources.
With the Hargrove Foundation providing financial support, volunteers from harGIVES began to design and modify adaptive toy cars for mobility-impaired children to learn the necessary motorized wheelchair driving skills. This initiative is now known as the Hargrove Adaptive Toy (HAT) Project.
Named in honor of its first recipient, Emma Pablo, the Engineered Machine for Mobility and Access (EMMA) cars can be used in homes, schools, and at physical therapists’ offices. harGIVES volunteers customize the EMMA cars with adaptations similar to those available for motorized wheelchairs: buttons or switches for hand control, joystick or head switches, and more.
“To date, ten 12V EMMAs have been awarded to individuals and physical therapists in the Mobile and Baton Rouge communities with plans to expand to the communities surrounding our other offices,” said Michelle Jones. “We currently have four under construction for award this year in the Mobile area. And plans for two more in Baton Rouge. In addition to new construction, we recycle and refresh the cars our recipients have outgrown to meet the needs of new recipients. We are currently working to expand our EMMA line to include a 24V model that will accommodate older kids.”
The Hargrove Foundation and harGIVES are affecting positive change throughout the communities they serve. “We look forward to continuing to give back to the communities that surround our 17 offices and beyond,” says Ralph A. Hargrove, President and CEO of Hargrove Engineers + Constructors. “As our team of companies continues to grow and serve clients in new areas, it also creates opportunities to show leadership and renew our Team’s passion for community outreach.”