On a sunny April morning in Maryland last year, a homeless veteran named Shawn watched in astonishment as a truck pulled up to the curb. The truck was attached to a trailer, which was loaded with items like a brand new microwave, vacuum, coffee maker, toaster and much more.
The items were all for him, collected by RBC Wealth Management Baltimore employees through a drive organized by Marcus Hull, a financial advisor in the firm’s Westminster, Maryland office. On that April morning, Shawn watched as Hull, several RBC employees and other veteran volunteers helped unload the household supplies from the trailer and move them into a new apartment – Shawn’s new apartment. He was homeless no longer.
In part thanks to the leadership of Hull, who chairs RBC Wealth Management’s veterans-focused employee resource group, as well as the support of the firm and other employees, many veterans like Shawn have received a helping hand over the last year.
Marcus Hull (left) and RBC Wealth Management employees pictured with the household supplies collected for donation to a homeless veteran (right).
Hull’s dedication to the veteran community comes from his own experience as a veteran, serving with the U.S. Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment from 1987 to 1991. After he left the Rangers, Hull says, he lost touch with the military and veterans community for a while. But a few years ago, he learned about veterans’ benefits that he qualified for, and that drove him to become more involved.
“Through the process of receiving those benefits, I felt motivated to pay it forward,” Hull says. “I felt like I was getting something from the veterans community, and I decided I was going to pay it forward to other veterans.”
In 2013, Hull helped create a veterans group for employees at RBC Wealth Management. The group officially launched in 2015, and in just the first year under Hull’s leadership, group members have given back to veterans across the country in many different ways.
In Minneapolis, employees cook and serve meals on a regular basis at the local Fisher House, which provides a home-away-from-home for families of veterans receiving medical care at nearby facilities. In Dallas, employees organized a Suits for Service Members drive, which collected more than 1,000 pieces of clothing for military servicemen and women.
Additionally, the group helped organize a fundraising campaign to sponsor a service dog for an injured veteran or active-duty service member. The campaign has so far raised enough money to sponsor seven different dogs, far exceeding the original goal.
And in partnership with the Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless, a Maryland nonprofit that provides emergency shelter and finds permanent housing for homeless men and women, the RBC veterans group helped move several formerly homeless veterans in Washington, D.C. and Baltimore – veterans like Shawn -- into new homes in 2016. The group is planning to help another homeless veteran around Memorial Day, and several more throughout 2017.
Leah Lyons, an assistant program director with the MCCH, says the veterans are often overwhelmed by the generosity.
“Most of the time they just come in with the clothes on their back,” Lyons says. “They go from sometimes sleeping on the streets to having a fully-furnished apartment, with food in their fridge. They don’t know what to say.”
Hull and the other RBC employees “provide gratitude and dignity for the veteran, for the person, to feel that they are worth it and that they can start their lives over in a really successful way,” she adds.
There’s a line at the end of the Ranger’s Creed, which Hull learned at Ranger’s school and now strives to live by, that simply says: “Rangers lead the way!”
Since the launch of the vets group at RBC Wealth Management, Hull has led the way for his colleagues, and because of his commitment to improving the lives of veterans and their families, he recently received the firm’s annual Irv Weiser Diversity Award. He’s proud of the work he’s done with the veterans group over the last year, but he’s especially pleased that the group has inspired other RBC employees to help veterans in their own communities.
“I wanted employees to be engaged, to teach them that veterans have needs that aren’t being met,” Hull says. “I didn’t want to just give donations. I wanted employees to get involved.”
“It’s about the impact you have in a veteran’s life,” he adds. “That’s what drives me.”
Photos courtesy of Marcus Hull.
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