Civic engagement is on the rise in corporate America, and United Way is at the forefront of helping companies find new ways to engage employees in volunteering.
Today, nearly 1,500 individuals from 25 local companies will participate in Heart of West Michigan United Way’s annual “Day of Caring.” The 62 projects planned are focused on meeting basic needs in United Way’s priority areas of education, income, and health. Included in the day are opportunities for volunteers to mentor elementary students, renovate low-income homes, and pick fresh produce to donate to pantries in need of fresh, healthy food.
“The partnership between the United Way and the companies that volunteer is mutually beneficial,” says Jane Royer, director of the Volunteer Center at Heart of West Michigan United Way. “Employees feel better about their work life when they are connected to our community, and our community benefits when people with resources give back both financially and through the gift of their time.” Day of Caring is the largest corporate volunteering day in West Michigan and has been sponsored by Heart of West Michigan United Way for nearly two decades.
This service day provides the opportunity for employees to give back through service while exposing them to the needs of the community and accessible local agencies. “Volunteering on a one day project like the Day of Caring provides a good entryway to continued civic engagement,” says Royer. “Over the years, I have seen volunteers who loved Day of Caring increase their involvement by becoming a regular volunteer in our Schools of Hope reading program or signing up as a council member to review funding proposals for United Way.” Large groups of one-day volunteers also provide agencies the opportunity to quickly complete important projects that are difficult to accomplish throughout the year.
This year’s Day of Caring coincides with the start of United Way’s 2014 Campaign, a time when entire workplaces will pool their resources to support their community with collective contributions Workplace campaigns provide more than 80% of the total revenue raised by United Way, and allow significant investments to be made in more than 60 agencies that are working for Kent County. Elected officials, agency providers, Day of Caring volunteers, and community leaders will come together in downtown Grand Rapids’ Heartside Park today to voice their support and kick-off the campaign. Through collaboration with United Way, companies, volunteers, and community members can help nonprofits reach kids, families, adults, and seniors to make sure everyone has the opportunity to thrive here, in the Heart of West Michigan.