Jonathan (Jon) Stump, Vice President of Product Services at Independence Blue Cross (Independence), is proud of the great things his team has accomplished together — not just in the office but also in the community.
Since Jon joined Product Services seven years ago, his team (made up of approximately 40 associates) has made giving back part of the department’s culture, completing several volunteer events together through Independence’s Blue Crew corporate volunteer program. The result: Since 2017, his team has donated more than 185 hours to support three local nonprofits in our region.
How It Started
Jon still remembers the first volunteer project his team worked on.
“The team made 150 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for Saint John’s Hospice, a shelter for homeless men in Center City,” he said. “After that, we just kept going.”
Over the years, the team has adopted a local family and provided gifts for them during the holidays, collected items and made care packages for Saint John’s Hospice, and prepared and served Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners to seniors at the Philadelphia Senior Center (just to name a few).
“My team is eager to continue finding ways to give back,” Jon said. “When we do things together and see the impact in our community (such as seniors enjoying a good meal), it motivates us to want to do more.”
Sharing the Joy of Volunteering
Jon’s executive assistant, Adraine Lewis, has been integral to the team’s volunteering success.
“She makes sure to schedule and coordinate volunteer events for our team throughout the year,” he said. “Giving back is important to her.”
As a member of the Blue Crew, Adraine has been giving back to the community for many years.
“Once upon a time, I was on the receiving side. My mother stayed at the Gift of Life house in Philadelphia, so I know the impact that volunteers make on these families,” she said. “I started volunteering at the Gift of Life years ago and still do it today.”
Adraine is passionate about giving back, so when the opportunity arose for a team volunteering project, she was excited to help make it happen.
“It’s a great feeling to help others. I love sharing that with others,” she said. “Plus, it’s a great way to bond with your coworkers.”
Supporting Their Communities During the Pandemic
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, everything changed. With stay-at-home orders in place and the switch to remote work, in-person volunteering was no longer an option. The group had to pivot to meet the growing needs of the community.
“We recognized that it was tough for everyone. There was a lot of fear and isolation, and crucial services were stopped,” Jon said. “We knew we had to do something. There was so much need.”
The team was committed to making an impact in the community even if they couldn’t gather together to do it. Adraine worked with the Blue Crew to come up with a way for the group to safely support the community. They decided on a virtual volunteering project (they were one of the first groups of associates at Independence to volunteer virtually!) with Caring for Friends and wrote “Caring Notes” that accompanied meals for seniors — all from the comfort of their own homes.
“The community needed help more than ever,” said Jon. “We didn’t realize how important this project was. The founder of the organization explained that the cards were even more valuable and impactful than the food for lonely seniors.”
Altogether, the team participated in four virtual volunteer projects during the height of the pandemic.
Looking Forward to the Future
This past Thanksgiving, the Product Services team was able to resume in-person volunteering for the first time since the start of the pandemic. They volunteered in person at Caring for Friends, the organization they supported as part of their first virtual project. The team was excited to help the organization by packing over 500 emergency food boxes and preparing meals in the kitchen. Caring Notes were placed into both the food boxes and meals before being delivered to the recipients.
“It felt so good to come together again and give back to the community,” said Adraine.
Now that the team is able to gather together, they’re ready to go.
“We’re getting together to plan our 2023 volunteer events. We hope to do at least four this year as a group,” said Jon. “We’re glad to be back in person.”