JFS Perspectives

Monday, August 19, 2019

Corporate Employees Get Out of the Board Room and Back on the School Bus

Corporate Employees Get Out of the Board Room and Back on the School Bus

We just concluded another amazing Lunchbox Express season! Hundreds of dedicated volunteers distributed more than 22,000 fresh, nutritious lunches and more than 12,000 books to children in need at 16 locations throughout the Denver metro area. We were thrilled to partner with seven corporate groups to fill many of these volunteer slots: Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), DaVita, FirstBank, Kroenke Sports & Entertainment (KSE), Randstad, South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce’s Women in Business Committee, and Xcel Energy. Many of these groups took multiple shifts on various days throughout the summer. And for some groups, their employees have returned year after year.

Christine Gillow, JFS Volunteer Services manager, says, “For large programs like Lunchbox Express, corporate group volunteerism is mutually advantageous. It's a fun and meaningful way for companies to fulfill social responsibility goals, and our connection with socially conscious companies provides JFS with many enthusiastic, reliable volunteers to serve our clients. Very often, our seasonal corporate team leaders become long-term partners. I am extremely grateful to all of our corporate teams for their invaluable support of our mission.”

While we wish we could tell you more about all the corporate groups who helped us this summer, below are highlights from a few of the participants.

KSE volunteersKroenke Sports & Entertainment (KSE)

Through its KSE CARE (Community Assists Reflect Excellence) program, Kroenke Sports & Entertainment (KSE) employees have participated in Lunchbox Express for the last three years. This summer, seven employees, primarily from KSE Radio, boarded the Lunchbox Express buses to hand out lunches and books to kids in need. Deb Dowling, vice president–community relations, says, “We’ve had the honor of working with Jewish Family Service for many years. We appreciate the work and compassion of JFS for our most vulnerable neighbors. Lunchbox Express is a wonderful activity for our volunteers as they truly feel they’ve made a difference in just three hours. Annually, this is one of our most popular volunteer activities.”

South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce’s Women in Business Committee

South Metro Chamber volunteer

Ora DeMorrow, senior financial advisor and first vice president at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, organized a group from South Metro Denver Chamber’s Women in Business Committee. Six people, each representing a different company or small business, participated in Lunchbox Express for the first time this summer. Ora explains why she chose this volunteer opportunity: “I am very familiar with JFS and its programs. The Lunchbox Express program is especially inspiring—helping children across cultures with nourishment when they are not in school. We felt this was a good fit for women in the community.” Ora added that she loved interacting with the kids and their mothers while they ate lunch and picked out books.

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE)

Four years ago, employees of the Violence and Injury-Mental Health Promotion branch in the Prevention Services division of Colorado Department of Health and Environment (CDPHE) were looking for an opportunity to better connect with and learn about the communities they serve. Danielle Tuft, MPH, sexual violence prevention program manager, says, “One of my colleagues heard about a program that provided free lunch to young people in the community and we did some research and reached out to Jewish Family Service. What we thought would be a one-time opportunity has turned into something we look forward to participating in every year.” Each summer, seven to 10 people have volunteered over multiple days, some taking more than one shift per summer. This year, 10 people helped on five days and took 16 volunteer slots!

Danielle adds, “We are so grateful to be able to partner with Jewish Family Service on this project. We have overwhelmingly had such positive experiences and have enjoyed seeing the work of Lunchbox Express grow to continue to meet the needs of our community.”

Other members of her team shared these remarks about their experiences, as well:

“I enjoy getting to interact with the kids and hear about their summers, and especially delight in helping them find books to take home.”

“It was really nice to spend the day out in different areas of Denver, meeting new community members, and being able to learn more about the communities that Lunchbox Express serves. It was also especially sweet to see so many children and hear a little bit about their days, their likes and dislikes, their hobbies, and their friends and families.”

“I have an amazing time each year! This was my third year and it warms my heart to volunteer where I can. The families I meet, the relationships I build, the parts of the neighborhoods I learn about, and the overall journey are priceless. I get as much from this experience as the families and youth we serve. Thank you for the opportunity!”

Xcel volunteersXcel Energy

Xcel Energy has participated in Lunchbox Express for the last three years. This summer seven employees and two of their children volunteered on several bus routes. 

Aaron Garcia, business intelligence analyst shared his experience: “This is a great organization that provides a basic requirement for those who are the most vulnerable. Volunteering with Jewish Family Service provides a great opportunity to help those around you and meet other caring people. The commitment may be small, but the impact that it will have on you and those you serve is great.”

Lunchbox Express isn’t the only way corporate groups helped JFS this summer! A group from Kaiser’s Clinical Pharmacy team kicked off the summer by sorting food and stocking shelves in the food pantry in mid-May. Then employees from Charles Schwab’s Cherry Creek office lent a hand in the pantry as part of the company’s 16th annual volunteer week in late-May.

Charles Schwab groupMichaela Sullivan, VP–financial consultant with Charles Schwab, first got involved with JFS by volunteering for Lunchbox Express a few years ago during Charles Schwab’s volunteer week and loved the experience. “I suggested volunteering with JFS to my colleagues this year because I really liked what the agency was doing for the community,” she shares. “When I volunteered in the food pantry, it felt really good to spend time helping out such a wonderful organization. Coming to the office and being in the pantry really illustrated the wide range of services JFS offers. I was very impressed with Lunchbox Express, but this time I got more of an inside look at other programs.” As an added bonus, Charles Schwab donated $1,000 to JFS as part of its Volunteer Team Grant Program.

Thank you to ALL the corporate groups who gave their time, energy, and passion to help JFS and the people we serve!

If you are interested in volunteer opportunities throughout the year with your company, please contact volunteer@jewishfamilyservice.org. Learn more about company matching gift opportunities.