Community Driven Culture Supports Employee & Navy Reservist’s Hurricane Relief Response
November 21, 2017
SC&H Group is a firm built on the foundation of corporate philanthropic efforts, and giving back to the community remains one of the core values of our culture. Our employees’ passion to regularly give back (volunteer time, or financially) to local or national charitable organizations is a factor that provides great fulfillment to all members of the SC&H team.
Nic Bonacci is a member of SC&H’s Business Performance Management Team, a 10-year veteran of the Navy, an 8-Year Navy Reservist, a husband, and a father of two. At SC&H, Nic is a Senior Consultant working to help position clients to achieve better financial visibility, respond quicker, and maximize profitability.
Nic received a call from the Navy on August 29th requesting him by name for the hurricane relief efforts in Houston, Texas. The events to follow were not only meaningful to him personally, but also to the areas in dire need of assistance and support.
When Nic asked SC&H leadership if they would allow him to go and serve he received an immediate and emphatic response of, “absolutely.”
With the full support of his family and SC&H – Petty Officer First Class Nic Bonacci, had the opportunity to spend six weeks in St. John and Puerto Rico, helping residents with hurricane relief.
Back home, Nic reflected on his memorable experiences and answered a few questions about his mission.
What were some of the first things you saw when you got there? How did it make you feel?
Our ship was originally given orders to travel to Houston, but on the way there we got word St. John was in desperate need of help and were instructed to go there instead. The first thing I saw when our ship pulled in was just a completely destroyed island. The harbor was littered with sunken boats and broken hulls. Smaller vessels were tossed and thrown up on land and broken on the rocks. I had never seen anything like it before. Once we got on land I got a better picture of how dire things were on the island. Trees were down everywhere, power lines were on the road, and many houses were without roofs.
We were in St. John for about a week before hurricane Maria forced us back out to sea for the safety of the ship. Not long after we moved our efforts to Puerto Rico to help the people there.
I had never done humanitarian work with the Navy before. I was deployed to Kuwait in 2008, but this was my first real experience with a true natural disaster. In both St. John and Puerto Rico the people looked so relieved and happy to see us there. They told us they were worried they were going to be forgotten by the US and were just grateful to have helping hands. I think I was just as grateful to be there, to do something meaningful and help as much as I could.
What kind of work were you doing there?
I’m trained as a diesel engine mechanic, so I did a lot of work on the islands with generators. Most places were without electricity and were using generators trying to keep some power going. But most of the generators they were using were only designed to run for a short time, not for weeks on end. When I wasn’t working on generators I helped deliver fuel, water, food, and general supplies. St. John has no airport, so everything had to come in by ferry. We provided a lot of the same support when we made it to Puerto Rico offering a hand wherever we could.
What did your daily routine look like?
We never really got into much of a routine. The situation and our orders changed by the day. On St. John we set up tents on a baseball field that had been pretty destroyed. The floodlights and light poles were torn out of the ground, and a falling tree crushed one of the dugouts, but that was our home while we were there.
We started each day at 6 a.m. We’d receive our individual orders and be off doing our assignments. But like I said, we never got into much of a routine because things changed so quickly. One day we were sleeping on a baseball field, the next we were back on the ship trying to dodge the next hurricane.
What motivated you to volunteer?
I wanted to help people. I wanted to do something meaningful for the people affected by the hurricanes, and be part of the solution. These were fellow Americans who needed our help and support. It was an honor for me to go help. My wife and family encouraged me to volunteer. And SC&H gave me their full support.
What did it mean for you to have SC&H support your efforts and time away?
It was extremely important, and made a big difference in my decision to go. I had very little time to make the decision whether or not I was going, and even on such short notice, SC&H could not have been more supportive and more understanding of my desire to go from the top down. For a lot of reservists like me, it’s never a guarantee that you’ll get paid by your company during your deployment. Working at SC&H meant I didn’t have to worry about my career.
I received numerous emails from my colleagues asking if there was anything they could do to help me, or my family back home, or if there were any specific charities they could donate to. Because of SC&H and my coworkers I knew my family was being taken care of back home.
I’ve been a Staff Consultant with SC&H since 2015, and one of my big personal concerns about going away was whether I’d still be eligible for a promotion. Thankfully SC&H did not let my time away interfere with that. On my way back home I received news that I was promoted to Senior Consultant. They made it very easy for me to step back into work. It’s a privilege to work for a company that has supported me through so much.