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In 1997, high school students Aaron and Evan Steed launched their moving service, Meathead Movers, as a way to make money while juggling sports and school. Based in San Luis Obispo, California, roughly midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, the company’s business was a hit. But periodically, Steed and his partners received upsetting calls — from panicked women trying to flee abusive relationships.

“We’d just help them out for free,” no questions asked, Aaron Steed told Credit.com. Once Meathead Movers opened four offices and began serving the Los Angeles market, they continued to help out victims of domestic abuse free of charge.

“We just kept helping out, and after three years we found ourselves in a contentious situation where the batterer came home and the police were called,” Steed said. At that point, “we realized we had to team up with a local domestic violence shelter” in order to get it done right.

One day, a friend of Steed’s passed along a contact at The Women’s Shelter Program in San Luis Obispo, which offers women and children affected by domestic violence counseling and support. After speaking with a former executive director there, Steed began collaborating on a strategy to better serve the families without putting anyone in harm’s way. The first partnership was formalized in 2001; today, Meathead Movers has nine partnerships with women’s shelters throughout Central and Southern California.

When victims call asking for help, Steed turns them over to a case worker at one of Meathead Movers’ partners, like Good Shepherd in Los Angeles, which then determines the best course of action. “They’ll confirm it’s a legitimate situation, provide housing, legal advice, and all kinds of other things,” Steed explained. “Then, once it’s time to actually move the person out, the shelter will contact us and we’ll do the move.”

Meathead Movers also often helps victims leave the shelter when it’s time to strike out on their own. By his estimate, Steed’s company has helped between 350 and 400 victims. “We don’t want moving to be a hindrance to get out of a bad situation,” he said.

It’s a random act of kindness that’s inspiring other small businesses: In July, Meathead Movers launched the site, MoveToEndDV.org, which challenges 10,000 businesses “to take the #MoveToEndDV pledge and make a donation or provide a product or service for free to help the shelters that support victims of domestic violence.”

Image: Meathead Movers 

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