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Consolis Group extends helping hands across Central Europe

 

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Consolis President Philippe Milliet and Habitat Area Vice President Don Haszczyn signing a partnership contract.

   
 

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The first Consolis home in Romania.

   
   
 

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First family in Romania to benefit from the Consolis partnership.

   
   
 

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Consolis volunteers in Poland.

   
   
 

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Consolis volunteers in Macedonia with the homeowner family.

   
   
 

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Consolis volunteer in Macedonia.

   
   
 

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Consolis volunteers in Hungary.

   

Consolis Group is in the business of improving building and infrastructure projects with the prefabricated concrete products it manufactures. Now this leading European industrial firm is improving lives through a multi-year partnership with Habitat for Humanity to ensure low-income families in Europe and North Africa have safe, affordable housing.

Consolis Group began its commitment to families in need in September 2007, when 25 Consolis employees participated in Habitat for Humanity’s Euro Build 2007 in Radauti, Romania. The experience of helping a low-income family become proud homeowners proved so rewarding for Consolis volunteers that the company agreed to support a lot more future shelter projects.

“Nothing prevents businessmen from sharing human values!” Consolis Group President Philippe Milliet said. “The partnership with Habitat for Humanity is one expression of the many responsibilities Consolis is taking in local environments where its companies are operating,”

Consolis Group sends 20-30 volunteers per Habitat Project, which represents approximately 100 employees per year. Each team is created with staff from all over the Group. This facilitates internal exchanges between Consolis Group companies around the continent and maximizes people’s exposure to a broad range of colleagues from around the Group.

Elsa Michel, Consolis Group communications manager, says Consolis reaps numerous benefits from their house building trips. “Building together generates a ‘Consolis team spirit’ among our colleagues in spite of their cultural diversity, their different working traditions and their job occupations,” Elsa Michel said. “House building involves a set of tasks and activities not all our volunteers are used to dealing with, so they have to find collective solutions to get organized together in a very short period of time. It has been a real success”

By the end of 2008, Consolis employees had participated in 6 additional Habitat for Humanity volunteer builds throughout Central Europe. This has been in keeping with Consolis’s commitment to send employee teams four times per year in support of local housing initiatives. Volunteers work alongside homeowner families, who contribute their own time, labor and resources to the construction and renovation of their homes.

Past and future volunteer builds where Consolis employees participated include:

• Radauti, Romania in September 2007, when 25 Consolis volunteers, including Consolis President Philippe Milliet, built and renovated homes.

• Gliwice, Poland, in October 2007, when 24 volunteers built and renovated homes.

• Skopje, Macedonia, in March 2008, when 15 volunteers worked on the renovation of 1 home.

• Hajdu, Hungary, in April 2008, when 25 volunteers built and renovated homes.

• A second build in Radauti, Romania, in September 2008, when 25 volunteers worked with new families in need of new homes, and where Consolis employees met with the Popescus family, whose home was built with the help of their Consolis colleagues a year earlier.

• Warsaw, Poland, in October 2008, when Consolis volunteers helped construct an apartment block.

• Szarvas, Hungary, in March 2009.

• A return to Gliwice, Poland, in April 2009.

• Veles, Macedonia, in September/October 2009.

• Cluj, Romania, in September/October 2009.

Consolis Group also contributes more than €130,000 annually to the construction and renovation costs of these projects, and the company covers part of the time and all of the travel and in-country expenses of its employees, who come from all over Europe to participate.

The value of this partnership to Habitat for Humanity is even greater than the figures indicate. Heather Alner, corporate donor relationship specialist with Habitat for Humanity’s Europe and Central Asia office, said Consolis volunteers are typically more skilled than other groups because of the multinational corporation’s work with the building industry.

Nevertheless, participation in volunteer builds is open to employees of diverse skill sets. When Wioletta Florczak, an HR Manager for Consolis Poland, arrived on site in Gliwice, she was uncertain of her contribution. Soon her fears were alleviated: “I am very happy to have participated. In the beginning, I was afraid that a woman on the building site would interfere more than help,” she said. “It turned out that we divided the tasks in such a way that men were responsible for the heavy work, and I was doing more precise tasks. I was feeling very needed and helpful….I learned so much about myself.”

Of course, the experience of personal reward is not limited to volunteers. Before the Consolis team came along in 2007, the Popescu family in Radauti, Romania, lived in a small, crowded two-room apartment with relatives. Now they make monthly payments on an affordable, no-profit Habitat mortgage for a four-room home where they can sleep comfortably at night. As the Popescus family pays down their loan, the funds go into a revolving fund so that they can be loaned out again to help another family find safe, secure shelter.

Furthermore, Consolis Group has donated funding to build and renovate homes for families in Slovakia, Macedonia and Egypt.

Habitat for Humanity’s Europe and Central Asia office and Consolis are exploring in-kind technical support for using prefabricated concrete construction technology in Habitat houses. This is an exciting new phase of the partnership that both sides feel will help the Habitat house building program enormously.

With this type of integrated programming support to Habitat for Humanity, Consolis is helping to bring diverse groups of people together, fundamentally changing the lives of all who are involved.