Q&A: Aaron Steed of Meathead Movers on Offering Free Moving Services to Victims of Domestic Violence
Finding the strength to leave an abusive relationship is difficult. Being able to afford moving out of a shared home with an abuser presents another barrier. That's why Meathead Movers, a moving company based out of San Luis Obispo, California, is helping victims of domestic violence by providing them with free moving services. Using the social media campaign #MoveToEndDV, the company also encourages other businesses to donate a service or product to local shelters that aid domestic violence victims. So far, 125 businesses have taken the pledge to donate.
We spoke to President and CEO Aaron Steed about why the company he co-founded with his brother began offering pro bono moving services to victims of domestic violence, the training workers receive, and advice for other companies interested in helping victims of abuse.
NCFY: Why does Meathead Movers establish relationships with domestic violence shelters in order to offer pro bono services for victims of domestic abuse?
Steed: My brother and I needed to find a way to make money while accommodating our school and athletic schedules. So in 1997, we established Meathead Movers as a student athlete moving service and quickly earned the reputation as the "go-to movers" in the small town of San Luis Obispo. With that reputation also came the frantic phone calls. Victims looking to flee dangerous situations were desperate to get out, without financial means or logistical support, and usually in a small window of time while the abuser was out. We were offered TVs and couches, anything for a chance to escape. Declining any compensation, we would rush to the home and perform the move.
One day, the situation turned volatile when the abuser came home in the middle of the move. It was then that we made the decision to partner with a local shelter to make sure that not only were the victims safe and supported through their transition, but the moving crew was safe, too. In 2001, we began our first official affiliation with a shelter in San Luis Obispo. Since then, we have partnered with an additional six shelters across the state.
NCFY: How are workers trained to handle jobs involving domestic violence situations?
Steed: Our student athlete movers receive extensive training to work on any of our jobs, particularly those from our shelter partners. With the sensitive nature of these moves and serious confidentiality concerns, our student athletes are trained to be quick, efficient, and empathetic when assisting with these moves. This is a first job for so many of our employees, so the experiences they get on these moves tend to stay with them for the rest of their lives. It’s an extremely valuable lesson to learn that domestic violence lurks in even the most perfect seeming lives and homes.
NCFY: What advice do you have for other moving companies looking to offer similar services for victims of domestic abuse?
Steed: I would encourage businesses to get creative about giving back. It’s a lot easier and cheaper than these businesses might think. In [our] 19-year history, there have been several extremely difficult financial times, and it would have been logical for us to give up and go out of business. Most businesses eventually go through really rough times in one way or another. However, knowing the importance of these donated moves motivated us to stick with it through those difficult times. My advice to other businesses is to take the pledge and join us in providing these moves in every county.
Learn about the research on intimate partner violence. You can also read our article on getting people and pets in abusive homes to safety.