EMPLOYEE STORIES

Meet two employees you helped in the first year of the Rollins Relief Fund.

HOW WE’VE HELPED: Brian and Sharon Russell

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Rollins, Rollins relief committee and all Rollins employees. I have been in the pest control industry for over sixteen years. I always prided myself on taking care of my customers, and especially not missing work, because I understand the importance of servicing our customers, but also not adding additional workloads on my co-workers. In January of 2020 I started having back and knee pain. I went to doctor and chiropractor appointments, with no relief. I eventually got an MRI, that showed cancer in my leg and on June 2, 2020 I was diagnosed with stage four metastatic lung cancer. My family and I were devastated, and after many tests I started radiation, chemotherapy and immunotherapy. My Dr. gave me hope I could beat cancer. Around this time my wife lost her job as business banker. We had to now worry about our finances as well since she was the main breadwinner. It seemed completely overwhelming, so we decided to reach out to Rollins for help. We realized that, sadly, lots of people go thru similar tough times and that Rollins relief was put in place to help Rollins employees. We knew others may be more deserving and Rollins may not be able to help us, and that would have been fine. I have contributed to Rollins Relief since I learned of it and how it helps co-workers that are experiencing financial hardships, whether health related or some other reason for their financial hardship. I always enjoyed hearing of the people that they helped and how Rollins relief really came through when they needed help. When Rollins called and said they would help us, my wife and I were overcome with gratitude. What a wonderful company and what wonderful employees who contribute to help their coworkers. We have many challenges ahead, fighting cancer and finding a job during a pandemic, but because of Rollins relief and my coworkers we don’t have the added stress of paying our mortgage the next couple months and hopefully my wife will find a job in the meantime. I know this letter doesn’t adequately expressed our gratitude to a wonderful company that Rollins is and its fantastic people. You all have helped us more than you’ll ever know. God bless you all.

With sincere thanks,
Brian and Sharon Russell.

HOW WE’VE HELPED: RaQuen Cotton

Orkin office administrator RaQuen Cotton and her family survived Hurricane Isaac in 2012 with just the clothes on their backs. RaQuen lived in the New Orleans area her whole life and said she had never seen a flood like that.

The water inside RaQuen Cotton's home
The water inside RaQuen Cotton’s home.
RaQuen says she was held hostage on the top of her couch while the water was rising.
RaQuen says she was held hostage on the top of her couch while the water was rising.
RaQuen's possessions that had to be thrown away after the flood water receded.
RaQuen’s possessions that had to be thrown away after the flood water receded.
“My husband was setting up the generator in the back yard because we weren’t sure what kind of effects we were going to have from the hurricane,” recalled RaQuen. “The kids were playing outside, then the dog started barking at the garage door. I opened the door, and there was water in the garage. I told the kids to come in, and that’s when I saw the cars that were driving down the street pushing a ton of water, and then I saw the generator my husband had just set up floating in the yard.”

RaQuen’s mother and grandmother lived in the house behind theirs, so RaQuen and her family couldn’t leave because RaQuen knew her relatives would come to her house. They couldn’t call because they lost phone service. Within minutes, RaQuen spotted her mother and grandmother walking through waist-high water to get to her house.

“We were being held hostage on the top of our sofa,” said RaQuen. “By the time my mom and grandma got there, we had to float the kids on an air mattress to higher ground. The water was still rising, but it wasn’t raining. It happened so fast.”

RaQuen, her husband and their three kids (then, ages 11, 10 and 5) stayed at RaQuen’s dad’s house in Reserve, La. for two weeks. There was no power in Reserve, La., but they were dry and safe.

“We were in the dark for two weeks,” she said.

It took the family a year to get back into their home. They had about 4 feet of water inside their home and had to totally gut it.

“It took us a long time to get back to ‘normal,’ said RaQuen. “Everything was a fight with the insurance company, but we had nothing left. We didn’t have any clothes, the kids didn’t have their school uniforms or supplies, and we had no furniture.”

At that time, Rollins employees collected money for fellow employees affected by the storm, but RaQuen said she didn’t realize money was being collected.

“Everything was such a blur,” she recalled. “I wasn’t always paying attention to everything and was in a daze, just trying to get our life back, so when the branch manager presented me with a check from the company, that was awesome. It was such a help. I wasn’t expecting it at all.”

They used the Rollins money for doors and door hardware – the interior garage door, the bathroom doors, bedroom doors and door locks.

RaQuen and family moved into a new home and sold their renovated home in the fall of 2014.

HOW WE’VE HELPED: Robin Wolf

Orkin office administrator Robin Wolf, a 15-year employee, was at her home in La Place, La. with her husband and two sons, ages 16 and 11. She said she woke up that Sunday morning in 2012 and had no electricity and no water.

Robin Wolf says this photo shows the water rising, and at this point, she says they knew they were going to flood.
Robin Wolf says this photo shows the water rising, and at this point, she says they knew they were going to flood.
Robin Wolf's neighborhood in La Place, Louisiana under water.
Robin Wolf’s neighborhood in La Place, Louisiana under water.
The water in Robin Wolf's home.
The water in Robin Wolf’s home.
“There was nothing on the radio about LaPlace,” said Robin. “The media focused on New Orleans, not the river parishes. My son got a text from one of his friends who said he had a foot of water in his garage. We thought he was joking.”

It had been raining all day Saturday and into Sunday, and the streets were holding water. Robin said when they looked out the window after her son received the text, they saw the water rising.

“We went to the neighbor’s house and told them to leave, and when we got back to our house, we picked up what we could off the floor and shoved two days’ worth of clothes into garbage bags, but it happened so fast,” recalled Robin. “We had to be rescued by boat that afternoon.”

They were taken to a local shelter where Robin saw a friend of hers.

“Luckily, my friend’s dad brought my family to meet up with my sister-in-law,” she recalled. “We actually had eight people and two dogs piled in a truck, and it did not matter just as long as we did not have to be transferred to another shelter.”

They stayed at Robin’s sister-in-law’s home for four months while everything was repaired and renovated. Robin had to commute more than an hour each way every day because of dropping off and picking up her kids at school.

“It was harder on my kids than on my husband and me to understand why this happened to us,” said Robin. ”It was my oldest son’s senior year in high school and he just got his first car five months before the storm. Unfortunately, he lost his car in the flood.”

They had 18 inches of water in their home, but construction crews had to gut four feet high.

“It was like a whole new house,” said Robin. “We had to paint and get new carpet, tile, cabinets and furniture. We’re still living in that house.”

She received money from Rollins, which they used to help refurnish their home.

“I was really surprised at the dollar amount I received,” said Robin. “I didn’t know the company was collecting money, and I don’t know how many people contributed or who gave what, but it was wonderful. To this day, I am grateful for everyone’s contributions.”

HOW WE’VE HELPED: Hurricane Andrew

Lenny Steppes loading supplies from the warehouse in Atlanta for delivery.
Lenny Steppes loading supplies from the warehouse in Atlanta for delivery.
Hurricane debris scattered around the lot behind the Homestead branch.
Hurricane debris scattered around the lot behind the Homestead branch.
Home office employees sort and pack supplies to get ready to ship to Florida.
Home office employees sort and pack supplies to get ready to ship to Florida.
The following is taken from the November 1992 issue of Rollins Today:

At 3 a.m. Monday, August 24, Hurricane Andrew landed in South Florida with a vengeance. The record-breaking storm lasted more than four hours and left a trail of disaster.

“The sky became pitch black,” said Ken Quinn, Homestead, Fla. branch manager. “As the storm hit, the walls in our house were shaking, and objects started hitting the house. The sound roared for hours like a train whistle in a tunnel. It was a frightening experience.”

He continued, “When it stopped, we found incredible devastation. It looked like we had been bombed for weeks. Power lines were down, and many people had no phone service or electricity. There wasn’t a house in sight without roof damage, if they had a roof at all.”

Later that day, Ken inspected his Homestead branch. It took over two hours to travel what was normally a 15-minute drive because trees and power lines blocked roads.

“The branch was a total mess,” recalled Ken. “The roof had blown off, and there was lots of water damage. Our air conditioning units blew off the roof and fell on our Orkin vehicles.”

Meanwhile, Rollins and Orkin people were responding to assist their fellow employees in Florida. According to Ken, Ft. Myers delivered vehicles and over 100 gallons of water the day after the hurricane. The next day Key West employees donated more water and food. Soon afterwards, a large shipment of items purchased in the Orlando area brought food, water, clothes and supplies necessary to survive without electricity. The next week a 550-gallon water tank and additional relief supplies, including portable stoves and lanterns, arrived from Atlanta. Employees from all over the nation made donations to the Rollins/Orkin Employee Relief Fund.

Orkin Human Resources VP Rich York explained, “I don’t recall the company ever experiencing a natural disaster of this magnitude. People responded with contributions and offers to help in any way possible. It’s encouraging to know we made an impact in the first few days after the event. There was a huge response from employees across the country.”

All Homestead employees stayed on the payroll at normal pay scales during this crisis.

“The company focused on the human side, not just the business. We made a conscious effort to keep everyone gainfully employed and help them get back to work so they could recover quickly from the effects of this hurricane,” said Rich.

According to region Service Coordinator Tom Cafiero, technicians visited Orkin customers soon after the initial recovery period. This enabled Orkin to determine how many customers’ homes were still standing and needed services now or in the next few months. Homestead had operated 10 routes before Andrew. Initially, Tom anticipated only have three routes left, but as of October 1, Homestead had seven routes in operation. By June 1993, he expects the branch to be back to 10 routes.

Homestead is currently operating out of a trailer located next to the Miami branch.

“I can’t say enough about the support from Miami. They have been a tremendous help to us. It’s important that we don’t lose that branch feeling,” said Ken.

Homestead will likely move back into its original location by the end of 1992, and Orkin will look at building a new branch next year.

“It’s hard to put into words what people felt, but we appreciated everything. It took us out of depression and got us going again. We knew there were people in this company who cared, and that gave us motivation to go forward,” Ken stated. “If the situation ever rises, we will return 10-fold the kindness that has been done for us.”


Ken Quinn is currently the assistant branch manager in the Homestead, Fla. branch. He started with Orkin in 1987 and says that there have been a few hurricanes that have come through since Andrew, but they’ve been free of any “real” hurricane problems.

“It was something that had never happened before,” said Ken, “and to that scale, hasn’t happened since. But the company responded tremendously for employees here. It was very important to the employees that lost their homes and had severe damage. It took a long time to recover, but the company supported us.”

“The company always checked to see how employees were affected after a storm hit,” said Debbie Roberts, director of payroll and employee since 1976. “After everyone was accounted for, we were told what their needs were and asked to donate supplies, toiletries, canned goods, diapers, water. We did the same thing after the earthquake in 1989 in California. It’s just the natural thing to do – to want to help.”

Ken said the company made sure the branch was equipped to do business since all their trucks were destroyed in the hurricane.

“That was the first time I experienced that kind of disaster,” said Tom Cafiero, Boston Commercial operations manager and then region service coordinator out of West Palm Beach, Fla. “The response was overwhelming, both from employees and the company. A lot of nice things were done by the company to support employees and their families, and it was a proud moment to be with the company.”

There were about 20-25 employees who worked in the Homestead branch at the time, but no one was hurt.