KENT COUNTY -—Two West Michigan groups played hooky from work on Friday to make a positive impact in their community.
After their first successful "Hooky Day" in February, the United Way’s NextGen program expanded to three locations around Grand Rapids; Grand Rapids Home for Veterans, Ronald McDonald House, and Feeding America West Michigan. The program encourages the next generation of volunteers to start connecting with their community as young adults, and maybe find a passion to follow for a lifetime.
Jenna Gray-Shomler didn’t have to call in sick for Hooky Day, her employer, Goodwill Industries, along with many other companies granted volunteers the day off to serve other organizations in need.
“(Volunteering) allows you to see a bigger picture of your community the world around you,” Gray-Schomler says, “and it allows you to really impact other people’s lives.”
Mary Hannon, a NetGen Board member, uses the term: donation through participation.
“We realize that a lot of young people don’t necessarily have a lot of money to give, but we know that they have a lot of time, and a lot of talent.”
And over at Blanford Nature Center, the rain didn’t stop about 75 Deloitte employees from pitching in. In the morning, they cleared overgrown brush from trails and from in front of the Visitor Center. The sticks and branches are recycled into a fence around the new playscape.
This natural area will allow children to explore and learn, while including a willow hut, sandbox, and plenty of logs to climb on.
This is Deloitte`s 12th annual Impact Day. Every employee gets the day off to help their community – that’s more than 50-thousand people nationwide.
“It`s an opportunity to do something a little bit different and use some of our skills that we don`t use every day in our work life,” says Lou Moran, the Grand Rapids Area Managing Partner at Deloitte. “It’s a bit of a team building exercise for us as well.
To the community, the volunteer’s impact is something that even this accounting firm can’t measure in dollars and cents.
(NextGen United Way says their projects at the Grand Rapids Home For Veterans was made possible by donations from Home Depot Foundation and Erhardt Construction.)