We believe that if you begin a task by looking for a way to help people, you’ll begin the right way.
Sunday marks the start of National Volunteer Week, an opportunity to celebrate the impact of volunteerism and the power of changemakers to come together, tackle tough challenges, and build stronger communities.
National Volunteer Week is also an opportunity to share stories in the hopes that doing so might inspire others to take action and create meaningful change. And in that spirit, I’d like to share with you the ways that we’re empowering people and changing lives—right here in our own back yard.
Looking for needs—and meeting them.
Ever ask yourself why you go to work every day? I’m not talking about paying the bills. I’m talking about the real, human reason why you go to work. If you’re anything like us—and I think you are—you go to work to be fulfilled.
What exactly does that mean? How can our work fulfill us—not as employees, but as human beings? The reason, I think, is this: Our work fulfills us when it aligns with our values and connects us to something larger than ourselves. J.P. Bak, our Chairman & CEO, summed it up well when he said this:
In order to shape your character, and thereby your ethical integrity, you have to face other people’s problems. You’re not just living in your own little bubble.”
At one point not long before the Christmas holiday, J.P. called an all-staff meeting. We expected to hear a major company announcement. What we heard instead was a call to serve. J.P. told us that it’s easy to look no further than our own self-interest. But, he said as he pointed out the window, there’s no better time than the present to reach out.
I encourage all of you—all of us—to reach out. Think about others—within these four walls, yes, but beyond them, too. Look out there. Look to our community. Look for a need and then look within yourselves to find a way to meet that need.”
We did exactly that.
Introducing the Give Bak Club.
Corporate volunteerism is one important way we can create lasting change in our community. We launched the Give Bak Club earlier this year and we’ve already completed a couple of projects.
During February, we collected gloves and socks and donated them to the Matt Urban Center’s homeless outreach program. Why socks and gloves? In terms of donations to the homeless, socks and gloves are the most underrepresented items. They’re also the most important because they help protect hands and feet from the ravages of frostbite. We donated five full totes of gloves, socks, hats, and scarves.
Earlier this month, we put together two teams that took part in The Salvation Army’s Homeless Street Feeding Program. Together with volunteers from the Buffalo Salvation Army, we served homemade meals to folks who gathered at the Central Library in downtown Buffalo. Along with a hot meal, we handed out hats, scarves, and gloves.
Create change as a volunteer.
I share these stories not because I hope it’ll help make Bak USA look good. I share them because I hope they’ll inspire you to do the same, whether as an individual or together with your fellow employees.
These efforts didn’t cost much and didn’t require lots of staff time. They were simple, actionable ways we could create change and have a positive, significant impact. If you’d like to do the same, you can create a corporate volunteer program or start a similar program at your small business. You won’t be sorry you did. The return on investment is profound.
We’re actively looking for new projects. If your organization is looking for volunteers, we’d like to know how we can get involved.