College Hunks Offering No-Cost Moves to Domestic Violence Survivors
“For us, it was really important because this is a subset of the population that might be overlooked as unintended negative consequences of trying to curb the pandemic,” said Nick Friedman, cofounder of College Hunks. “We want to help the folks that feel helpless in these situations.”
Safer at home isn’t the case for everyone. As millions of people across the U.S. hunker down at home to slow the spread of COVID-19, domestic violence rates have skyrocketed as abuse victims are trapped at home with their abusers.
Nick Friedman, cofounder of College Hunks Hauling Junk & Moving, started seeing articles about the rising abuse rates, which sparked an idea to help. Working with certified domestic violence shelters and case workers, Friedman and his team are offering free moving services to anyone experiencing domestic violence.
“People are essentially trapped in their living situations with their abuser. This really struck a chord with us,” Friedman said. “We can offer folks that are looking to exit those situation free moves, so economics is not a deciding factor.”
With 130 franchises, the Florida-based brand has always strived to be purpose-driven and socially conscious. For the past three years, they’ve donated two meals for every job completed to Feeding Children Everywhere and its regional Hunger Projects, donating more than a million meals their first year. As the pandemic starting to unfold in their communities, Friedman started talking to his team and franchisees about how to utilize their trucks and labor to help out.
“For us, it was really important because this is a subset of the population that might be overlooked as unintended negative consequences of trying to curb the pandemic,” Friedman said. “We want to help the folks that feel helpless in these situations.”
In mid-April, College Hunks started reaching out to local shelters and case workers. So far, they’ve provided free moving services to 12 people in domestic violence situations in Tampa, Atlanta, and the Washington, D.C. area. One move involved a single mother whose case worker contacted College Hunks and said her move would be time-sensitive, as her abuser was currently in police custody and they weren’t sure when he would be released. She described the no-cost move as being heaven-sent, Friedman said.
“It’s been an interesting experience thus far, as these situations are all a little bit tricky,” Friedman said. “We follow the lead of the shelter and case worker. We’re not professionally trained to insert ourselves in these hostile situations, so we follow the lead of the professionals, making sure our trucks and movers are available to assist.”
When Friedman first announced the initiative to franchisees, he felt worried because of their revenue decline, which is down about 20 percent.
“Any small business owner doesn’t have a lot of cash to sustain a huge decline in business,” Friedman said. “But my franchise owners responded right away and asked how they could get involved and help. That was really meaningful to me as the founder and franchisor to get that support.”
As Friedman is witnessing the impact and the overwhelmingly positive community response to their efforts, he’s considering making this initiative a long-term program at College Hunks. His team has also helped move furniture for hospitals and hopes to continue helping communities and make that synonymous with the brand.
“My advice for business owners is to stay patient and positive, and look forward to an evolution standpoint,” Friedman said. “For us, it became about looking forward and rebuilding and elevating others as opposed to wallowing in our misery of missing our goals for the year.”
College Hunks asks that anyone who has a need for a no-cost move due to domestic violence first contact the police and/or a local domestic violence prevention shelter. College Hunks is working with certified shelters that can assist in identifying victims in need of moving services. They’ve also set up an email account to streamline the process, which people can contact at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you or someone you love is experiencing domestic violence, resources and help can be found by calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). If it’s not safe for you to call, or if you don’t feel comfortable doing so, another option for getting direct help is to use their live chat service.