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Column

Arnold: United Way of Greater McHenry County launching Day of Caring projects

Heather Arnold is marketing manager of United Way of Greater McHenry County.
Heather Arnold is marketing manager of United Way of Greater McHenry County.

Last week, my husband and I had a rare moment to have lunch together after we spent the morning volunteering at the People in Need Forum at McHenry County College. As a member of the steering committee, I had enlisted him to volunteer the day of and lend a hand.

“You know, I had a great morning,” he said. “I just feel so good, and it just reaffirms that I should be volunteering more often.”

I nodded in agreement, and then we continued our discussion of how people like us, both working full time with busy lives and little kids, could carve out the time in our already packed schedules to give back through volunteerism. He reminded me of our good friend, whose employer encourages the staff to volunteer and allocates a certain number of hours in all employees’ schedules to take advantage of giving back. That had me thinking.

United Way of Greater McHenry County is working on that very idea. We have recognized that the companies we work with are looking for a way to increase employee engagement and to continue to build the culture within. Keeping our donors always at the top of our mind, we noted that request, and in November, we launched our new program, A Day of Caring.

This awesome opportunity lets us match our donor companies with a project that will help them engage their employees, create a positive working environment and foster good communication and teamwork. Projects were submitted by the 30 nonprofit agencies that we support, therefore making the ultimate collaboration between donors, United Way and our nonprofits who are receiving the funding and support. A win, win and win!

I think we can all say with confidence that every employee wants to work for a company that cares, in more ways than one. According to Cone Research, 79 percent of people prefer to work for a socially responsible company. Employees feel more connected to a community and have a sense of purpose when their company offers a mix of volunteer work, workplace-giving programs and matching gift opportunities. This provides a meaningful way for employees to give back and grow.

In another study, the Deloitte Volunteer IMPACT Survey shared that 92 percent of surveyed corporate human resources executives agree that contributing business skills and expertise to a nonprofit can be an effective way to improve employees’ leadership and broader professional skill sets.

With that kind of information, I think a lot of companies today are trying to be conscious of what it takes to make a great workplace. Keeping that in mind, we launched this idea in November and were thrilled with the overwhelmingly positive responses.

Fourteen McHenry County companies adopted 13 different partner agency projects, ranging from making homemade cards for the kids at CASA and yard cleanup for clients of Senior Care Volunteer Network, to cleaning the PADS shelter and adopting a canned food drive for the TLS Veterans’ pantry. More than 286 employees were a part of this special project. Our United Way team was impressed with the feedback, the companies were thrilled to connect their employees to something significant as part of their workday, and our agencies got much needed support on projects they wanted completed.

As we dive into the month of February, United Way of Greater McHenry County is proud to again be launching the Day of Caring projects. And what perfect timing, as this month is all about sharing the love.

Our agency partners have submitted 23 projects that need adopting. If you are interested in getting your company involved in A Day of Caring with our local United Way and helping one of our agencies, please call our office at 815-363-1377 or email us at info@uwmchenry.org. We are happy to work with your organization to effectively reinforce beliefs and behaviors most valued by your company, empower your employees to grow and do things for which they are most passionate, in turn, contributing to a stronger, more skilled workforce.

I also would love to mention that we partner and support the Volunteer Center of McHenry County. If you are looking to volunteer on your own or have an opportunity that you could be of service more regularly, they would love your help.

• Heather Arnold is marketing manager of the United Way of Greater McHenry County. For questions about United Way or to learn how to contribute, email her at harnold@uwmchenry.org.

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