Core & Main volunteers build bikes, build community
Sept. 15, 2023
What do a group of information technology professionals — service desk analysts, engineers, software developers — know about building bikes?
Not much, as it turns out, but that didn’t matter. They got step-by-step instructions “in a game-like fashion, which made the building fun and the outcomes high quality,” said Carrie Busbee, the project’s leader. “We were delighted when the Build-A-Bike® program assured us we could do it.”
Busbee is chief information officer at Core & Main, a national distributor of water, wastewater storm draining and fire protection products. She and her team of 100 mostly engineers partnered with the Leader’s Institute’s Build-A-Bike® program to build the bikes for children served by Embrace Families.
It was designed as a team-building exercise for a group of employees scattered across the country, but one that aligns with a mission Core & Main and Embrace Families share: building strong communities.
“Investing in our communities is at the core of our mission,” Busbee said. “We challenge our associates to find creative ways to live out that mission. … When we decided to come together for our first all-team meeting in five years, we decided it was a perfect time to give-back ‘in person.'”
And as an Embrace Families board member, Busbee knew the project would be helping an organization that is strengthening families in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties.
“I chose Embrace Families because the mission is worthy and on target,” she said. “Enabling strong families enables strong communities. Every child deserves a safe, stable and loving home.”
All about mission, all about kids: a Q&A session with Carrie Busbee
Tell us a little about yourself, your role with Core & Main and what made you decide to start this donation within Embrace Families.
I lead the information technology team at Core & Main as the chief information officer. My team resides throughout the country. Standard philanthropic efforts involve remote events or challenges, but when we decided to come together for our first all-team meeting in five years, we decided it was a perfect time to give-back “in person.” The meeting site was Orlando, and so we had the privilege to donate locally.
When did you become a board member with Embrace Families, and how has the connection grown stronger over the years?
I’ve been an Embrace Families board member since August 2022. I chose Embrace Families because the mission is worthy and on target. Enabling strong families enables strong communities. Every child deserves a safe, stable and loving home. Embrace Families not only ensures that children in foster care are well-served and supported, but they focus on strengthening families, eliminating the root causes that drive the need for children to be a part of the foster care system.
Tell us a little about Core & Main, its mission and its involvement with the Embrace Families bike donation.
Core & Main literally exists to build strong communities. Core & Main is a leading specialized distributor of water, wastewater, storm drainage and fire protection products and related services. Operating approximately 320 branches nationwide, we combine local expertise with a national supply chain to provide contractors and municipalities innovative solutions for new construction and aging infrastructure. Core & Main’s 4,500 associates are committed to helping their communities thrive with safe and sustainable infrastructure. Our vision is to foster a world where communities thrive because our people and products provide safe, sustainable infrastructure for generations to come. Investing in our communities is at the core of our mission. We challenge our associates to find creative ways to live out that mission in our local communities. I saw the bike donation as a way to enable the entire team to participate while we came together for team building. We leveraged Leaders Institute’s Build-a-Bike program to help us build teamwork and build the bikes.
How did Core & Main and Embrace Families’ business relationship occur?
We knew we wanted to help Embrace Families, but we were unsure in what ways. Morgan Clement, community engagement director at Embrace Families, and Maureen Brockman, its chief development officer, helped my team brainstorm ways we might give. They were open to anything that could benefit the kids and their families. We landed on the bicycle team-building event because it fit within my team meeting time constraints and provided a tangible outcome we could celebrate and Embrace Families could coordinate with flexibility. Morgan also attended the bike-building event to talk with Core & Main staff about the work done by Embrace Families and how it serves the families who would receive the bikes. And Nikki Riggsbee, executive director of Embrace Families’ West Orange Service Center, stored the bikes so case managers could access them whenever they learned of a child who needed one and assisted with distribution.
Tell us about the people involved in assembling the bikes and their efforts.
Our team included just over 100 information technology professionals. We are made up of all different skills, from service desk analysts who help our nationwide associates with personal computer issues to system engineers and developers who write software that serves our customers and associates. Although we are mostly engineers in our job duties, only one or two of us had ever “worked on a bike.” We were delighted when the Build-a-Bike® program assured us we could do it. They walked us through, step-by-step, in a game-like fashion, which made the building fun and the outcomes high quality.
What was the impact of donating bikes to the families?
The bikes were donated right as school was ending, so many of the children who received one were able to ride it all summer. And several sibling groups received them, enabling them to enjoy the bikes together. That promoted bonding and strengthened sibling relationships. It also encouraged kids to engage in healthy physical activity. At the end of summer, Embrace Families still had a few bikes left, so staff were able to surprise more families with the gift at the agency’s back-to-school distribution event. It’s an item many children love to have, but it’s not one that’s easily affordable for many families served by Embrace Families.
* Core & Main’s experience was also featured in a community spotlight in ENSPIRE Magazine.