Members of the Independence Blue Cross Blue Crew, volunteering at Saint John’s Hospice.
One of the things I love most about working at Independence Blue Cross is our company’s culture of giving back to the community. So when the Human Resources division was looking for a team-building opportunity, I suggested volunteering together — it’s the ultimate team builder. It allows us to work as a team while also lending a helping hand to those in need, which are two things that represent what Independence is all about!
We decided to volunteer at Saint John’s Hospice, a shelter for homeless men in Center City. The Blue Crew and Multicultural Men’s Group, one of our company’s associate resource groups, work with Saint John’s Hospice regularly and I had heard great things about volunteering there. So I knew this was the right opportunity for us!
Saint John’s Hospice is not your ordinary hospice. It really is a sanctuary for those that live there and depend on the services they provide. The staff is also amazing. They were very easy to work with and accommodating to our needs. In the end, we decided on two volunteer opportunities.
Doing Good as a Team
First, we would offer 10 – 14 associates in our division (due to limited space) the opportunity to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the men at Saint John’s Hospice. To ensure that all associates in our division had the chance to participate, we also decided to assemble toiletry kits at each of our quarterly divisional meetings to be donated.
The enthusiasm and response from the associates in our Human Resources division was overwhelming for both activities!
When we started with the sandwiches, we were informed that it might be the only meal of the day for some of the men. With that in mind, we knew we had to do a good job and were up for the task. In total, we made 312 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in just over an hour and a half. We would have kept on going if we hadn’t run out of bread!
Our next event was just as successful. When I entered our quarterly divisional meeting, there was a line of associates eager and ready to assemble toiletry kits. That day, we made 100 kits filled with personal hygiene items, including shampoo, toothpaste, a toothbrush, socks, razors, sunscreens, combs, and lotion.
More Than Just Team Building
While I am so proud of what we accomplished together, I am also in awe of what the experience did for us as a team. From a team building perspective, these volunteer events did what they were supposed to do: increase communication and foster collaboration among the associates in Human Resources.
But volunteering at Saint John’s was more than just a team building exercise — it energized and empowered our associates to give back. And for many, it fueled a passion for volunteering.
Our associates enjoyed the opportunity to get involved so much that there was a demand to do more. After our initial events, we went back to Saint John’s Hospice twice more in 2018. Overall, we had 38 volunteers make 1,228 sandwiches for homeless men. We also made 300 additional toiletry kits at our divisional meetings!
I hope to continue this tradition of giving back within the division in 2019 and beyond — I am excited to see who this may inspire next!