More than 100 franchisees and franchise executives from brands such as Cinnabon, Schlotsky’s, Corner Bakery, Firehouse Subs, McDonald’s, Molly Maid, Orlando-based U.S. Lawns, Great American Cookie Company, the Dwyer Group, PostNet, KFC, Taco Bell and more spent several hours Friday volunteering at the Orlando Health & Rehabilitation Center as part of the International Franchise Association’s inaugural Franchising Gives Back event.
The participants took a dilapidated area of the rehab center’s grounds and turned it into “Veterans Park,” or what Joyce Pope, Director of Volunteer Services at the Center dubbed, “the completion of a dream for the Center’s 50th anniversary,” which will be celebrated in November.
“We want this park to be a place where our celebration takes place in November and we are grateful for these business leaders for helping us see it through to completion,” said Pope.
The IFA, which is in Orlando through Tuesday for its annual Convention, brings more than 3,000 franchise executives, franchisees and industry suppliers from around the world. A large focus of this year’s gathering is focused on improving the employment situation for veterans, which face challenges as they reenter the civilian work force.
“The franchise industry is committed to helping those who served for us overseas,” said IFA President & CEO Steve Caldeira. “The Franchising Gives Back event was a natural extension of the work our industry does in their local communities every day, and we are proud to support our nation’s veterans through events like today, in addition to our longstanding commitment to offering veterans opportunities for employment and franchise ownership.”
More than 66,000 veterans are franchise business owners today, according to the U.S. Census, and the IFA has committed to helping increase that number in the coming years. The organization participated in an announcement on Veterans Day in Washington, D.C. with First Lady Michelle Obama to make the largest private sector veteran hiring commitment as part of the Joining Forces Initiative, which is led by Obama and Dr. Jill Biden.
Hands On Orlando coordinated the event for the IFA. In addition to meeting with Center residents, participants laid thousands of pounds of concrete for a sidewalk, built tree boxes and planters, planted shrubbery, placed mulch and sanded and painted an entranceway to the Center.
“Residents here will see a transformational difference in their campus and as they come outside for the next 10 or 15 years,” said Chris Allen, who runs Hands On Orlando.