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briefing

The Dallas Morning News

dallasnews.com THURSDAY, JUNE 16, 2011

VOLUNTEERING
COMMUNITY FOCUS | CORPORATE VOLUNTEERISM

LOCAL

Companies nd ways to help


The Volunteer Center of North Texas receives thousands of volunteer opportunities from more than 1,700 area nonprofit groups. For more information, visit www.vcnt.org.

LEND A HAND

Work at a museum: The

Museum of Nature and Science provides a hands-on education for all ages. Volunteers are needed to send out membership renewals, fold letters, sort materials and assist the membership manager with a wide variety of duties. Min. age: 16. Time: 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday Volunteers needed: 2 Location: Dallas (75210) Contact: Fyve Hilton, 972-201-0552, fhilton@natureand science.org; www.natureandscience.org American Red Cross provides assistance and referrals to local families that have been affected by disaster. It needs volunteers to serve as the first contact for disaster clients seeking assistance, as well as provide basic support in many other areas. Min. age: 18. Time: 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday Volunteers needed: 4 Location: Dallas (75235) Contact: Jennifer Bussell, 214-678-4520, jbussell@redcrossdallas.org; www.redcrossdallas.org

Be an Office Angel: The

uring tough economic times, some corporations dont hold back, they give back. When raises, benefits and resources take a hit, some companies look for alternative ways to boost employee morale as well as their profile in the community. For many firms, volunteerism is the solution. Vangie Garza, director of Corporate Services at the Volunteer Center of North Texas, says in the past three years shes seen a 40 percent increase in the number of companies looking to the center for ideas on how to help others. The Volunteer Center helps match companies with agencies that complement their business model and strategy. For example, she says, Texas Instruments focus on education would match perfectly with Junior Achievement, while Exxon Mobil might work better with an environmental group. We want that return on investment to be ongoing, Garza says. We want them to marry. The Volunteer Centers Hands at Work program helps companies organize Day of Service projects for groups of employees. Garza says its a good way for employees to get out of the office, bond with one another and gain some perspective. Because the economic climate has been so difficult lately, employee morale is key, she says. Companies figure if they do a day of service, employees may see,

DURING A COMPANY-SPONSORED volunteer month last September, employees from Interstate Batteries did some landscape work at Herbert Marcus Elementary School in northwest Dallas.

Hmm, Im not so bad off as I thought. Because there are others who are more truly in need than I am. Garza says service projects are also a way for employers to identify growth opportunities for individuals. Some may not be leaders at the company, but they sure do surface to the top, she says. Employees can grow by leading a team, making decisions, being creative and being a problem-solver

everything you need on the job. In addition to service projects, the Volunteer Center offers options for companies that want to learn more or dig a little deeper into corporate social responsibility. The agency provides project leader training and team building as well as post-event analysis and consultation on how a company can create its own employee volunteer workplace program.

But not every company has the budget for an entire program. Many agencies just need bodies and the smiles that go along with them, says Garza. Its a wonderful connection. And many employees will go back on their own and give of their time. Even if the economy improves, Garza says theres been a paradigm shift in the corporate world: Now companies are being held

more accountable with the dollars they give out and what they invest in, she says. The company is still targeting their bottom line, but they are doing it in a way that gives back to their community. And even when times are really good, I think thats when well see even more involvement, she says. Because now they have a few more dollars they can count on to give. Erin Booke

Victims Outreach seeks to help victims of crime and violence survive, heal and thrive. Volunteers will answer calls that come into the 24-hour crisis hotline, and they will offer emotional support and information/referrals for victims of crime. Min. age: 18. Time: 5 p.m.-9 a.m. on weekdays; weekend shifts available Volunteers needed: 50 Location: Dallas (75205) Contact: Lorelei Gregory, 214-358-5173, lorelei@victims-outreach.org; www.victims-outreach.org Volunteer Center of North Texas is dedicated to transforming communities and strengthening nonprofits through volunteerism. Volunteers are needed to process donations at the Tarrant County Donated Goods warehouse. Must be reliable and able to lift 20 pounds. Min. age: 16. Time: Ongoing Volunteers needed: 30 Location: Fort Worth (76133) Contact: Judy Shannon, 817-927-7172, jshannon@vcnt.org; www.volunteernorthtexas.org/ tarrantcounty/

Answer crisis calls:

SETTING THE BAR | INTERSTATE BATTERIES

Employer encourages workers to give back


Its not just business as usual when a corporation has a chaplains department. Interstate Batteries, a Dallas-based battery business founded on Christian principles, called to corporate chaplain Henry Rogers about 19 years ago. He heard of the companys mission to treat others as we want to be treated and knew that was where he belonged. You know you work for a company that cares about more than just the bottom line, he says. That they care about and are making an investment in the lives of other people. And thats a life well lived. Its not just about the money. The chaplains department offers a variety of services to employees, from counseling referrals to summer camps for kids. But what really brings people together are the community service projects that allow employees to better the lives of others as well as their own. Rogers has launched various programs and community connections during his tenure, including monthly volunteer nights at Union Gospel Mission, letter-writing to soldiers as well as children at a Russian orphanage, and gift-giving during the holidays with Angel Tree, an agency that benefits children of prison inmates. Sometimes employees receive paid time off to volunteer. When you think of corporate America, the word that pops into your mind is greed, says Rogers. Theres just a negative connotation. But there shouldnt be. It should be, What a great organization, what a great opportunity to plug into the gifts and talents of their
/

Process donations: The

COMPANY CHAPLAIN HENRY ROGERS has worked at Interstate Batteries for about 19 years. Ashley Vasek, who works in the retail division, joined the company recently.

Usher childrens performances: Plano

Childrens Theatre provides quality family entertainment and arts education which develops cognitive skills, integrity, discipline, the craft of performing and visual arts, creativity, good citizenship and social and communication skills. It needs volunteers to set up for performances, sell concessions, usher and clean up. Min. age: 12. Time: Ongoing Volunteers needed: 5 Location: Plano (75075) Contact: Sara Akers, 972-422-2575, sakers@ planochildrenstheatre.org; www.planochildrens theatre.org

people and make a difference in the lives of people who need caring and love. Interstate recently conducted volunteering events at two Dallas elementary schools. Ive never felt like a rock star before, but when you walk into those schools you see all the kids lined up with signs that say We love Interstate. We hadnt even done any work yet, Rogers says. These kids knew that all these people cared about them. I like expressing our love for other people in a real tangible way, and Interstate allows us the time to do that. Another outreach program at the company is called Second Chance. In partnership with Union Gospel Mission and several other agencies, the program helps homeless people find jobs. If you want to get off the streets and make a life change, you can get in the program there [UGM] for two years, Rogers says. At

INTERSTATE BATTERIES employees have written letters to soldiers overseas as well as to orphans in Russia.

the end of the period, finding a job is a piece of that. But who wants to hire someone with that past? Well, we will. Interstate hires people for one year with full medical benefits. After that, theyve either worked themselves into a job or the company will assist them with finding another one, says Rogers. You can imagine how incredibly nervous they are during the interview process, says Rogers. One lady, she

looked at me and said, This is the most important day of my life. I love being a part of seeing peoples lives change. Ashley Vasek has worked at Interstate Batteries for just a little over a year, but shes already participated in various community service projects. When I started looking for another company to work at, volunteering was really important to me, she says. They had to respect the fact that I volunteer and there are

times that I need to not be here. Vasek first participated in the companys volunteer month last September, when Interstate Batteries organized half- and full-day volunteering events every Thursday. She got involved with Rainbow Days, which benefits children in tough situations. She took a friend with her to build after-school kits for the children. Seeing how it affected her and how it kind of encouraged her to get more involved in the community was a great encouragement to me, she says. Vasek and her husband also contribute to Angel Tree during the holidays. My husband and I, we dont give each other gifts, she says. We dont need anything. We both have jobs and have a decent life. So we buy things for each others Angel Tree kids. Its kind of a fun thing to do. Vasek, who works in the retail division, says work can still be long and draining. But at the end of the day, I know that Im working for a company that is making a difference. I might be concentrating on work at the time, but its nice to know there are other people around me who are passionate about volunteering. Vasek is on a corporate running team that is raising money to bring clean water to a village in Zambia through the World Vision program. Whats neat about that is that we dont sell batteries in Zambia, says Rogers. The work we do overseas is not about the bottom line. We do it because theres a need there. If we can take running, which some people enjoy doing, and combine it with volunteer work, we can change lives. Erin Booke

A5 06-16-2011 Set: 21:21:12 Sent by: ebooke@dallasnews.com Briefing

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