Service Projects Breed Unity

Milestone Americas partnered with Mission 500 by sponsoring two of our staff in a service trip to Puerto Rico.  Mission 500 together with Forward Edge, many other security industry companies, and the local community in Ponce, Puerto Rico, organized a tremendously successful effort.

There wasn’t one personal agenda that got in the way of our mission and what we were trying to accomplish. – Patrick Cooke, Channel Business Manager at Milestone Systems

It truly felt like we were a family. – Brian Hayes, Custom Software Developer at Milestone Systems

Hurricane Maria affected 69,000 homes in 2017 but only 6,000-7,000 have been addressed leaving 60,000 lingering with negative ramifications. The Puerto Rico territory is carrying a lot of debt, there isn’t as much structure to support the needs, and all social groups are affected: the poor, middle and upper classes. There are inherent roadblocks for the families here to elevate themselves.


Mission 500 organized a group of about 22 people to focus on one family that was specifically chosen by the community in Ponce, Puerto Rico. A family of 6 living in a 600 square-foot home just 20’ x 30’. The original plan was to repair their roof because a tree had fallen on it, with a ‘stretch goal’ of repairing their back wall – but this team was able to pull off so much more in just three days…

The Texas sales manager Patrick Cooke, and a developer from our Portland, Oregon office, Brian Hayes, won the raffle for this mission, and I was anxious to hear how they’d team up and represent Milestone on this service project. They both returned home safely, and I was delighted by my findings.

I say ‘safely’ because Hayes reported that he was almost impaired three times: severe heat exhaustion/dehydration, slipped in a tree while holding a chainsaw in the pouring rain amidst being consumed by termites and lastly, had a hammer drop from the roof that grazed the side of his hat on its way to the ground.

What he didn’t survive was more of a shock to him: “I was acting like a Texan when I got home!” Brian said while trying to keep from laughing.

The two were co-workers, but can now say they’ve been travel buddies, roommates and most importantly, co-laborers in serving a most grateful family in Puerto Rico. Both have said they’d participate in another service project again and on their own dime.

The community suggested they work from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. because after 4 p.m. until dark at 7 p.m. the mosquitoes are extremely active. The team ignored that suggestion and persisted that they work from sunrise to sunset accomplishing as much as they could for the family. Some team members suffered quite a few bug bites due to that decision, but our two guys persevered.

After completing the initial goal plus stretch goal, the team also replaced the other three walls, the flooring, the plumbing and the stairs. The foundation was also shored up, reinforcing the structure it was already on. All the rotting trees and debris in the yard were cleaned up, too.

The number of take-aways and positive experiences for Brian and Patrick are too many to include in one article.

The truth that struck Patrick the most was the mere fact that the trip to this U.S. territory came at a divisive time in the country as many are fighting for different causes. This team was understandably diverse in its world views, but you wouldn’t have known from their actions. The unity that came from focusing on one single project for one family surpassed anyone’s opinion or political stance. There was perfect peace and combined focus amongst a wide spread of individuals. No conflict. Patrick commented that he saw the best of people that week.

For Brian the most impactful part was the closing ceremony. The team gifted a framed and personally signed picture of their group to the family. The mother was crying with gratitude beyond anything Brian had ever witnessed in his lifetime. Brian considered himself well-traveled and knowledgeable on what poverty looked like… until this trip. According to Brian, he has never been shown or felt as much gratitude as he saw from this family.

Mission 500 gave the team members the space and freedom to step up and lead. Patrick and Brian were proud that they were able to influence the impact they had on the family. Our two guys took on a very physically demanding responsibility, but it was clear that there were members of their team who had never swung a hammer before. There were plenty of jobs to do: at one point near the end of day, Brian even did some of the family’s laundry!

There’s not one single negative thing to raise with this effort, time was short, everyone went above and beyond, we always felt safe, empowered & supported. Our bodies ached at the end of every day, but we never hesitated to do as much as we could. – Patrick

It was a community affair. The neighborhood brought us our lunch everyday onsite! – Brian

Milestone has partnered with this established mission organization, and the staff at Mission 500 are excellent. We hope to participate again next year and many more years to come. Will you consider joining us?

by Kristi Corno, Executive Assistant to the VP, Milestone Systems

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