Kimco Culture

Giving back to our combat wounded veterans

Posted by: Gregory Essopos Gregory Essopos
on March 10, 2016

Since 1932, an estimated 1.8 million Purple Heart veterans have transitioned back into civilian life after being wounded in combat. Getting back to normalcy can be difficult, and any little step can help ease veterans’ minds. At Kimco, we recently joined an initiative, run by the Wounded Warriors Family Support organization, to extend our thanks to wounded veterans and help them with that transition back.

I was reading the newspaper when I learned about Wounded Warriors Family Support’s combat wounded parking signs initiative. I read how a local councilman in Brookhaven, New York sponsored a resolution to designate parking stalls for military veterans wounded in combat. After doing a little research on the organization and program, I realized that this was truly a fit for Kimco, and an excellent way for us to give back.

The organization makes participation very easy for business owners or property managers interested in supporting the cause and providing wounded veterans with added ease in their daily lives. Wounded Warriors Family Support provides the signs for free with proof of installation. The process was simple: I filled out a form, explained who Kimco was, and requested 30 signs. A few weeks later, the signs arrived at our door and we started installing them.

Gregory Essopos posed with a combat wounded parking sign at Airport Plaza in Farmingdale, New York

Our vendors have stepped up enormously, donating their time and labor to install the signs across properties in Long Island, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Hampshire. The reception from the public has also been incredible. I’ve seen veterans using the spots and others pointing at the signs acknowledging the gesture. It’s nice to think that these signs are not only assisting those who served our country, they’re also a reminder to civilians to take a second and appreciate what our men and women of service sacrifice for our protection and freedom.

It has been particularly rewarding for our team in the office. Usually, we think of ourselves as just property managers, making sure that our shopping centers are safe and have curb appeal. This is a real opportunity for us to give something back to the community, specifically to appreciate a group of people who gave so much for our country.

A combat wounded parking stall in our Manhasset Center in Manhasset, New York

In our smaller centers, we’ve installed one combat wounded reserved spot per center and in our larger centers, we have two. For our larger properties, like Edgewater Commons in New Jersey or Bridgehampton Commons in New York, we’ll put a combat wounded reserved spot on one side of the center in front of one anchor, and one spot on the other side in front of another anchor. We try to place them closest to the supermarket in the shopping center, since those anchor tenants receive the most foot traffic. We’ve also ordered special purple bollard covers to further call out the designated spaces.

In addition to the first 30 signs, we’ve already placed an order for 25 more so that we can continue spreading them across our portfolio. If you’re interested in learning more about the Wounded Warriors Family Support organization or how you can receive combat wounded reserved spot signs, please visit http://www.wwfs.org/.

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