Postcards

How the power players do it - by Fortune senior editor at large Patricia Sellers

After Sandy: How one company stepped up

November 15, 2012: 9:24 AM ET

Vonage's supply room for employees post-Sandy

Every company has a story.

But most companies that helped employees through Superstorm Sandy will never have their stories publicly told.

Here's one story that deserves to be known. Barbara Goodstein, who is the chief marketing officer at Vonage, told me over lunch this week what her company'did after Sandy hit the homes of the people she works with. Almost everyone who lives near Holmdel, New Jersey, where the telecom services company is based, lost something—power, heat, property, security, piece of mind. Ten employees lost their homes completely.

Companies aren't equipped to become shelters. But on November 1, three days after Sandy struck the east coast, Vonage (VG) CEO Marc Lefar opened his headquarters to any employees who could make it in, to work or charge up or get warm or stay overnight. Vonage brought in food and TVs and games for employees and their families.

The company served 2,000 meals and diverted generator power to the fitness center so people could take hot showers. When Vonage called for donations--food, clothing, bedding, personal hygiene, cleaning products--hundreds of employees contributed. A "personal shopper" option allowed impacted employees to check off items, from baby food to women's shoes, and  pick up boxes, custom-packed.

Management handed out checks, tens of thousands of dollars in total, to help displaced employees start rebuilding. For its 10 employees permanently displaced, Vonage helped find temporary homes, negotiated leases, and ordered rental furniture. And when CEO Lefar announced a fund to collect and match employee contributions, he made the first personal donation. Vonage's senior leadership team followed.

Now employees are now signing up to "Restore the Shore." That's a new Vonage program for employees to spend up to three days out of the office, with pay, to rebuild seaside communities.

Out of every tragedy comes some good. And there is plenty of good in New Jersey.

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About This Author
Pattie Sellers
Pattie Sellers
Senior Editor at Large, Fortune
Executive Director of MPW/Live Content, Time Inc.

Pattie Sellers has written more than 20 Fortune cover stories including "Marissa Mayer: Ready to Rumble at Yahoo," "Muhtar Kent's New Coke," "Oprah's Next Act", "The $100 Billion Woman" (Melinda Gates), and "Gone with the Wind" (Ted Turner). She co-founded Fortune Most Powerful Women and oversees the Fortune MPW Summit, the preeminent gathering of women leaders in business and beyond—and programs such as Fortune MPW Entrepreneurs and the Fortune-U.S. State Department Global Women Leaders Mentoring Partnership. Pattie also develops Live Content across Time Inc. Her blog, Postcards, is about how power players lead and navigate their careers. Pattie won Time Inc.'s prestigious MVP award for her performance in 2012.

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