Sections

Weather Forecast

Close
Advertisement
Employees from Bremer Bank celebrated a portion of Martin Luther King Jr. Day packaging meals Jan. 20 at the Marshall Armory for United Against Hunger, a United Way of Southwestern Minnesota event. More than 400 volunteers gathered together for the first-ever United Against Hunger food packaging event. Bremer employees helped to package 11,666 bags of food, for a total of 70,000 meals. The meals were distributed to food shelf organizations in several counties. Photo courtesy of Marshall Independent

Volunteering on the job

Email

Every year Minnesota employees spend thousands of hours building homes with Habitat for Humanity, ringing Salvation Army bells, serving on boards of community organizations and collecting food for food shelves and raising funds for numerous nonprofit entities.

Advertisement

Many of those volunteer hours and efforts are spent while they are on the company clock. 

“Volunteering is a way to teach our community to take care of each other,” said Deb Zinda Hanson, a strategic business planner at Bremer Bank.

Each year Zinda Hanson and other employees from Bremer’s office – including Willmar, Redwood Falls and Marshall – spend time during and after the work day as community volunteers.

Company-wide, Bremer’s 2,000 employees contributed 100,000 hours of time and donated $2 million last year.

That’s on top of the $38 million given to community projects by the Otto Bremer Foundation, which Zinda Hanson said is based on their founder’s philosophy that in order to serve clients the bank must also serve their communities.

“Business philanthropy is a key component of a healthy and viable community, and it is a longstanding tradition in Minnesota,” according to the Minnesota Council on Foundations, which provides a “took kit” that provides good reasons and good examples for businesses to donate time and resources.

The council’s website (www.mcf.org/donors/business-giving) touts the benefits of volunteering time and donating money as being good for business, good for the community, is a sign of leadership and helps builds company morale, cohesiveness and stability.

While it may seem that donating money and employees’ time to charity would hurt a businesses’ bottom line, the council states that, “Support for local causes is a good way for a business to develop a positive reputation, reinforce relationships with customers and develop closer relationships with community leaders and officials.”

During a time when surveys show Minnesota employees are not happy at work, the Minnesota Council on Foundations says that “contributing to organizations and community groups that employees care about enables business owners to promote a more positive work environment and build shared pride in the company’s role in the community.”

Conway Deuth & Schmiesing

Encouraging employees to put their time where their passions lay is part of what Conway Deuth & Schmiesing does with their company-wide focus on volunteering.

“Volunteering is a core value at Conway Deuth & Schmiesing,” said Jean Geselius, director of marketing at CDS, a certified public accounting firm based in Willmar.

Last year the company’s 60 employees at the five CDS locations in west central Minnesota donated 3,300 hours of volunteer time with more than 90 different organizations in a combination of during-work and after-work activities.

A company newsletter says that “virtually all” of the firm’s partners and employees “volunteer at some point during a given year.”

Geselius said CDS employees are surveyed once a year and asked to provide information about the organizations they support, including involvement with professional and community boards that take them away from their job as well as volunteer activities they do outside the work day.

Not only does that survey provide a tally of volunteer time but it also serves as a resource for other employees to know who to contact if they want to get involved with a particular organization, said Geselius.

“We believe in giving back to the community,” she said, adding that company-wide volunteer efforts can be a very positive experience for employees.

Besides individual volunteer efforts, Geselius said each year about 25 of the Willmar CDS employees spend an afternoon together painting a gym at the YMCA.

The day, which also serves as a “team building activity” ends with root beer floats, she said.

A company newsletter says that “virtually all” of the firm’s partners and employees “volunteer at some point during a given year.”

Geselius said CDS employees are surveyed once a year and asked to provide information about the organizations they support, including involvement with professional and community boards that take them away from their job as well as volunteer activities they do outside the work day.

Not only does that survey provide a tally of volunteer time but it also serves as a resource for other employees to know who to contact if they want to get involved with a particular organization, said Geselius.

“We believe in giving back to the community,” she said, adding that company-wide volunteer efforts can be a very positive experience for employees.

Besides individual volunteer efforts, Geselius said each year about 25 of the Willmar CDS employees spend an afternoon together painting a gym at the YMCA.

The day, which also serves as a “team building activity” ends with root beer floats, she said.

Bremer

In January, about 100 Bremer employees from three different banks met in Marshall on Martin Luther King Day and made food packets at the food shelf, which helped the group focus on the value of being community volunteers, said Zinda Hanson.

Given the tough economic times, Zinda Hanson said volunteering is a rewarding way for businesses and employees to “give from your heart” and to grow as individuals and a company.

“If you’ve been part of some ones’ struggle, you have more empathy,” said Zinda Hanson. “The more we can do to help our neighbors, the more we can grow.”

Part of that growth is training a new generation of volunteers.

Zinda Hanson said it’s important for companies and business leaders to demonstrate community volunteerism so younger people can carry it on.

“We’re teaching them our philosophy and about volunteering and what it means,” she said. “It’s so important that we learn how to volunteer so we can pass it on to our child and other people.”

Advertisement
Carolyn Lange
A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers county government and regional news with the West Central Tribune.
(320) 894-9750
Advertisement
Advertisement
randomness