On August 4th of this year, 1st Source Bank gathered around a dozen employees to put their ever-present community spirit into action at the Salvation Army of Michigan City as part of the annual United Way Day of Caring, an event that continues to have an immediate impact on the ability of nonprofits throughout Northwest Indiana to carry out their mission.
The annual United Way Day of Caring event brings together teams from municipalities, local businesses, civic groups and churches from throughout Northwest Indiana to celebrate volunteerism by completing projects and working to make a significant impact on the local nonprofit community. This remarkable event works as a phenomenal team builder for employee groups and allows those who volunteer to see the great work accomplished by Northwest Indiana nonprofit organizations.
“This is the 7th year we have had a team of employees and family participate at a different agency,” said 1st Source Regional Sales Manager, Jayne Cooper, who is also the Immediate Past Board Chair of the United Way of Porter County.
“We participated this year at the Salvation Army of Michigan City,” said Cooper. “They wanted to reorganize their food pantry into specific categories of food both in the food pantry and storage room. We also cleaned and straightened a storage area and we painted a bathroom.”
For groups of volunteers like those from 1st Source Bank, the positive impact that they can have is two-fold. First, they complete a project in a day that will help the nonprofit organization pursue their mission, and second, they get the chance to understand in-person who that organization is, what they do to help members of the community, and how they might be able to volunteer or contribute in a meaningful way in the future.
“Many of these agencies just do not have that much manpower and they all have so much on their plate that organizing something that is functional but could be better is just not possible,” commented Cooper. “There are just not enough hours in their days. By bringing in one large team, we can tackle a large project and make sure it is completed before we leave at the end of the day. We are not leaving something for them to finish.”
“It is also important that I am able to take my team each year into a different United Way Agency to learn about their mission and the work they do every day,” Cooper added. “It is impressive for them to see what it takes for them to serve the needs of the people. Also, this project gave my team a new perspective on giving to Food Pantries – what the needs actually are. We don’t often think about a box of cookies and how special that might be to a family in need.”
1st Source Bank Regional President, Matt Vessely, is a strong proponent of promoting and supporting organizations throughout the communities in which 1st Source serves. Along with the fundraising efforts and awareness campaigns that the bank does on a routine basis, the Day of Caring is an opportunity to take a hands-on, team approach to helping make our communities a better place to live and work.
“Jayne (Cooper) evaluates the various projects that are available to pick one that would be appropriate for a crew of the size and skill that we have,” Vessely said. “She aligns with the right project, in the right place to make it the best, most effective use of our time, and the best way to put our people to work.”
In describing the project that 1st Source Bank undertook, Vessely said, “There was a lot of heavy lifting, cleaning, and organizing, and it took the better part of the morning into the afternoon to complete that work. There were four or five other people working on the bathroom painting project and we got the paint and the brushes, and went to work.”
1st Source Bank was one of the many companies taking part in this years United Way Day of Caring, which brought together more than 1,000 volunteers to take part in 85 community service projects for 42 nonprofits. For Vessely, this effort was just another facet of their mission to help their communities.
“At the core, it’s simply what we do. We believe in community involvement, community leadership, and we expect that of our employees and our organization. This is a really good way to deploy our human resources in a way that is impactful and also in a way that is organized across the broader community. It has a level of energy and excitement and, ultimately, visibility of the importance of caring and giving back.”
“For us, it’s a great venue for us to do what we do. It’s a great way to celebrate with the community the value of giving back. We’re a big United Way supporter and we want to support their consistent efforts to reach out into the community. Across the nation, what the United Way does is critically important to insuring that we have healthy communities and that we’re helping people in need. Here in Porter and La Porte Counties, they serve that mission well and, when we think about giving back to our communities, there’s just a natural alignment. They help us to deliver on our commitment to be of service to our communities by providing a great platform for giving.”