Darden Dimes Helps Employees Weather Storm

January 11, 2016

Who you gonna call when a storm rips holes in your roof, topples trees and knocks out your electricity? Not Ghostbusters. Not Superman. Darden Dimes!

Darden’s emergency assistance fund for employees came to the rescue of 27 team members at the Olive Garden in Spokane, WA, after a severe storm flooded homes and knocked out electricity for about 10 days late last year.

Each of them received a $200 grant from the employee-funded program for replacement of refrigerator food lost during the power outage or for hotel expenses. To-Go Specialist and Host Alina Buzulan said she was grateful for her grant after her home lost part of its roof.

“We were afraid it would rain in the house,” she said. The money for food expenses allowed her to focus on covering the roof with tarps and protecting her home from further water damage.

“Darden Dimes was a lot of help,” Alina said. “This amazing program really helps people when they are struggling. Not a lot of companies do that.”

Director of Operations Tim Krantz said that he and Senior Vice President Chuck Flor spoke to a Darden Dimes administrator right after the storm to get the ball rolling, and then a manager quickly handed out grant applications to the team.

“Darden Dimes shows that we are not some faceless corporation,” Chuck said.

Another team member, Sabrina Henthorn in Production, said 10 trees fell across her driveway.

“We had to cut through all of those to get home after work,” she said. “The $200 grant was a blessing. I’ve paid a dollar into Darden Dimes in every paycheck. One of my managers said once, ‘It’s always worth paying into it because you never know when you will need some help.’”

Tim had plenty of praise for the team members.

“They were helping each another and providing shelter, showers and clothes so everyone could come to work,” Tim said. “Yes, they wanted to be at work helping their community.”

To aid their efforts, General Manager Maria Carnovale provided food to team members reporting to work who were without power at home.

“It's truly amazing what a dime can do,” she said. “The team members who donate make Darden Dimes a success. Some of them have asked me where they can send a thank you card, and I tell them to thank each other for making this program possible.”

Darden Dimes helped employees and their families with more than 2,800 grants totaling about $1.6 million in 2015.