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Blue Crew Celebrates 20 Years of Supporting Nonprofits

By April 1, 2021May 17th, 2021Community Volunteerism
April 2017 City Harvest volunteer initiative a project hosted by Pennsylvania Horticultural Society

Members of the Blue Crew in 2017, volunteering for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society's City Harvest project. Steve Fera is pictured second from left.

A commitment to the communities we serve has long been the heart of our culture at Independence Blue Cross. It was this spirit that led to the inception of the Blue Crew ― the Independence Blue Cross (Independence) corporate volunteer program.

The Blue Crew completed its first official volunteer project on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in January 2001, an initiative we are proud to continue to support today.

As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Independence volunteer program and National Volunteer Week in 2021, we reflect on the impact our associates have made supporting nonprofits in our communities, and their incredible, unwavering passion for making our community a healthier, inclusive, and equitable place to live and work.

Driven by a Passion for Volunteerism

Our founding Blue Crew members began by organizing informal volunteer projects after work to give back to people in need while connecting with one another. Comprised of associates from various business areas and levels within the organization, they shared a passion for community service. Their efforts quickly garnered momentum, as a growing number of associates joined them.

Inspired by the passion of our associates, Independence established the Blue Crew as a formal corporate volunteer program. Today, the Blue Crew is still driven by the interests of our associates, who are dedicated to supporting nonprofits that are making a meaningful difference in our local communities.

As the executive sponsor of the Blue Crew, I have been privileged to champion this commitment to community and work with our associates to help increase volunteer participation each year, expanding the program’s impact.

There are now over 1,000 Blue Crew volunteers supporting more than 100 nonprofits throughout our region. These nonprofits work to address a variety of community needs, such as improving health and well-being, reducing food insecurity, and enhancing access to education and literacy.

Spreading Hope Through Service

When the COVID-19 pandemic upended our lives in 2020, it was impossible not to feel fear and uncertainty. Our nonprofit partners and the community at large were facing unprecedented challenges. At a time when the call for volunteers was greater than ever, how could the Blue Crew continue to serve those in need?

True to our Independence spirit, we quickly found a way to re-engineer our work, dive in, and live our mission. I am so proud of the way our Blue Crew volunteers moved forward undaunted and with even greater purpose to care for our community ― pivoting effortlessly to share their time and talents from home.

Virtual Volunteering to Meet Community Needs

In total, the Blue Crew volunteered more 4,650 hours to support 87 nonprofits in 2020, through more than 100 events ― 54 of which were completed virtually. Here are just a few highlights:

  • 500 take-home libraries were delivered to young children living in transitional housing so they have books of their own
  • 500 bags with food and hygiene items were distributed to local food pantries
  • More than 150 welcome kits were provided to families staying at Ronald McDonald Houses in the Greater Philadelphia region, including an activity to help occupy kids staying at the houses during the height of the pandemic.

Volunteer Challenge Keeps the Momentum Going

In September 2020, we launched our new Blue Crew Gives annual charitable giving campaign with the theme “The Power of You.” Associates were able to choose the best ways to help their communities and support causes close to their own hearts.

As part of the campaign’s virtual Blue Crew Gives Back Day project, 500 volunteers created care packages, and associates pledged more than $575,000 to support 900+ community nonprofits ― a truly inspiring display of generosity!

We’re excited to keep the momentum going with a new “20 Hours” Blue Crew volunteer challenge. We’re encouraging all associates to volunteer a total of 20 hours in 2021 by participating in weekly virtual Blue Crew volunteer projects and independent volunteer activities. In just a few hours a week, we can make an even greater impact during this critical time.

Find Volunteer Opportunities in Your Community

Like so many people, I am eager to return to a more “normal” way of life, and I am looking forward to volunteering in person again. I’m confident it won’t be long before we can put on our Blue Crew T-shirts and be together (not just on Zoom!) to continue to bring hope to people in our communities.

Now more than ever, if you haven’t done so already, I encourage you to find opportunities to support local organizations you are passionate about ― and be sure to invite your family and friends to join you. Two places to find out where your help is needed are Volunteer Match and the Philadelphia Foundation.

You’ll be amazed at how good giving back makes you feel!

Steve Fera

Steve Fera is executive vice president of public affairs at Independence Blue Cross (Independence). In this role, Mr. Fera leads federal and state government affairs, the Independence Political Action Committee, and community affairs areas. He also oversees the Independence Blue Cross Foundation, a more than $100 million charitable organization. The IBC Foundation aims to further Independence’s community leadership by leading sustainable solutions to improving the health and wellness of our neighborhoods that can be replicated on a national scale.