Volunteer Profile: Credit Suisse

Credit Suisse 5-19-16 008A year ago, Daniel Johnson and his co-workers at Credit Suisse were hard at work in New Orleans East, working alongside hundreds of AmeriCorps during the 2015 Habitat AmeriCorps Build-A-Thon. For the last 11 years, they have made annual trips to the city to help rebuild, but last year’s was special for several reasons.

“I was skeptical at the beginning because we had 70 people working on our house,” said Daniel, who is in charge of the internal audit department in the Americas for Credit Suisse. “I thought that would be too many people for the number of supervisors, but they had a lot of supervisors, probably seven of them. It was the most organized build I’ve worked on. The progress in one week was unbelievable, and the most rewarding of all our trips because you could see from nothing to pretty much a fully formed house. Just the trimming had to be done, so that was a great experience.”

The blitz build saw ten homes built in ten days. Credit Suisse was part of the team on Ray Street, and over the course of the first week, they took the house from a floor system to very nearly complete. As well as AmeriCorps from Habitat affiliates all over the country, they also worked with the family who would be owning the home.

“Usually you’re working with people who are going to get a different house,” Daniel said. “That was the first time I think we worked with someone that was actually getting that house we were building. They’re so grateful for people to come down and help. The general view is that New Yorkers maybe aren’t the most thoughtful, caring crowd. It’s nice to change that opinion.”

Returning this year, they happened to be working right next door on a new home, part of another 11 the affiliate has built since the end of Build-A-Thon, helping to build an entire neighborhood.

“It was really rewarding,” he said. “We talked to the family a little earlier. The two little girls and the mom. The mom worked with us last year, and a bunch of her relatives, so that was great to see the finished product, see people actually living in it.”

After 11 years, the Credit Suisse volunteer trip has become more than just giving back–though that remains the most important part. They have their favorite spots to eat in the city, and they like to find new ones. They visit the French Quarter, Frenchmen Street, and the Garden District, and sometimes, their families come along.

“We’ve grown a fondness, even a love for the city,” he said. “I’d been to New Orleans before the storm, so I loved it already, more from the partying side, but these trips have really been kind of work hard and enjoy the city as well at night, but not forgetting that the work is the primary reason we’re here.”