Kristen Mariana (left) and her sister-in-law, Shannon, helped fill hundreds of new backpacks with school supplies for Philadelphia students during a United Way Backpack-A-Thon event.
Kristen Mariana, Senior Corporate Relations Coordinator
Years on the Blue Crew Advisory Board: 4
Kristen Mariana excels at bringing people together to support great causes — it’s a skill that comes in handy as an Independence associate and Blue Crew volunteer.
This is Kristen’s sixth year managing our September United Way Days of Caring event, one of the largest annual volunteer efforts at Independence. She’s tasked with choosing community service projects, helping to recruit a few hundred Blue Crew volunteers, and visiting as many project sites as possible to ensure work runs smoothly.
What’s More Fun Than Giving Gifts?
In December, Kristen is as busy as an elf at the North Pole coordinating our annual holiday Giving Tree. Through her efforts and our employees’ generosity, 200 children in grades K – 4 at the Isaac A. Sheppard Elementary School in North Philadelphia receive a personalized gift.
It’s Important to Personalize Your Volunteer Experience
When your job involves ensuring these types of efforts are successful, it would be easy to consider your giving finished when the workday ends, but that’s not how Kristen sees it. Even given the demands on her time, she makes volunteering a priority.
It’s important to carve out this time for yourself, she says, whenever it fits your schedule. Her advice is to match your volunteer experience to the things you care most about.
Giving Back to Honor Her Family
Kristen’s volunteer time is particularly important to her because it’s one way she honors the memory of her sister and brother. For four years, she’s served as a camp counselor at the Moyer Foundation’s Camp Erin — weekend-long camps that offer healing and hope for children and teens grieving the death of someone close to them.
She also leads a new Blue Crew project to prepare and serve meals at the Gift of Life Family House, which provides a home away from home for families of patients receiving organ transplants in Philadelphia. Her brother’s organs were donated through the Gift of Life donor program.
Be Open to Taking New Paths
Kristen has found rewarding ways to give back to others through her own life experiences. She says, “Be open to new opportunities on the job or as a volunteer. It can lead you down unexpected paths, and take you where you’re supposed to go.”