When roundCorner joined the Pledge 1% movement in 2016, we decided to offer Volunteering Paid Time Off to all employees. To kick off this initiative, Shannon Davisson found an opportunity that allowed us to give back to the community while spending quality time with each other outside the context of our regular work.
Shannon became familiar with Bridges through previous outreach and fundraising efforts and felt this would be a perfect cause for the company to rally around. Bridges’ mission is to bridge the gap between the housed and the homeless to establish relationships that lead to greater acceptance and understanding, social and economic growth and wellbeing. They achieve their mission by providing opportunities for volunteers to staff “Runs”, which gives a group of trained volunteers a chance to go directly to the streets and shelters to meet homeless men, women and children. On a typical Bridges Run, a truck is loaded with fresh, ready-to-eat bagged meals, sustainable lunches and soups, as well as other items of necessity for those living on the street or in dire need.
She immediately noticed that this cause resonated with our team in New York, and so after scheduling a volunteering session, it was time to start preparing. The work ahead involved purchasing groceries for making 75 fresh lunches, preparing and packing those lunches and finally assembling toiletry kits we purchased from Bridges. The toiletry kit portion of our project allowed us to involve team members who are not New York City locals by asking everyone to donate $3, which would enable us to purchase one toiletry kit from Bridges on their behalf. As a group, we were able to purchase 50 toiletry kits to distribute on our run!
On the day of the run, Yina was on hand to accept the grocery delivery from Peapod, thanks to Melissa who worked behind the scenes to ensure we were fully prepared. Soon, our New York office turned into a food market with tables full of turkey cold cuts, pounds of ham, loaves of bread, cheese sticks, yogurts, fresh fruit and more. We all worked together to assemble the brown bag fresh lunches and prepare the toiletry kits that included all of the essentials like soap, shampoo, toothbrushes and toothpaste. After we completed the work, Josh found a cart to help get the goods downstairs, where a Bridges truck met us to load our donations. Before leaving for Penn Station, where the run would take place, the Bridges team gave us an overview of the organization, its mission and discussed how our evening of service would proceed. About a dozen people were waiting for us when we arrived, thanks to the flyers Bridges distributed earlier that day to promote the event. We knew this run was going to be a great success.
That windy evening, approximately 30-40 people made their way through our line, receiving a fresh meal or two, several sustainable lunches for future meals and other basic necessities many of us take for granted, like new underwear and personal care products.
Looking back on our evening with Bridges, it turned out to be much more than providing meals and other necessities. We all got to interact with each and every person we met, which really drove home the impact of this mission on a very personal level.
Many many thanks to Shannon, Josh, Heather, Yina, Arup, Eugene and Sharif for the great work they did for their community! To learn more about Bridges, visit www.bridgesoutreach.com.