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Mei Cobb

By Mei Cobb

Around the World, Corporate Volunteers Make a Difference

09/06/13


Recently I wrote about how on July 18th each year, Mandela Day inspires volunteers throughout the world.  A few days later, I became even more inspired when I learned how United Way’s partner in South Africa, Pietermaritzburg and District Community Chest, engaged companies in celebrating the international day of service honoring Nelson Mandela. 

The Pietermaritzburg and District Community Chest invited companies to participate in Mandela Day service projects by providing a list of nonprofit organizations and what their needs might be. The companies decided how their employees could serve those organizations and many visited the nonprofits on Mandela Day.

For example, employees from the government’s Auditor General office, pictured here, contributed blankets, groceries, and goodie bags as well as a hot meal, cakes, coffee and tea to the Eastwood Senior Citizen Club. Travel with Flair visited Masibumbane Creche (a childcare center) in Elandkop and created “a library corner” with new books, tables and chairs for the children, and led games and other activities that day. 

These corporate volunteers reminded me of how Fannie Mae and United Way partnered to offer volunteer opportunities in eight U.S. cities for more than 2,000 Fannie Mae employees as part of the company’s “7 Days to SERVE.”  And it reminded me of United Way Brasil, which connects youth from disadvantaged backgrounds with volunteer mentors through programs like Investir Vale a Pena (Investing Pays Off). With the Investir Vale a Pena curriculum, funded by Merrill Lynch, volunteers teach about financial planning, credit, career development and leadership. Companies participating in United Way Brasil’s Investir Vale a Pena volunteer program include PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, DuPont, Procter & Gamble, Morgan Stanley, Intel Corporation, Johnson & Johnson, and others. Active across five Brazilian states, the program has mobilized more than 340 employees volunteering 10,000 hours to support more than 820 young people since 2005.

In South Africa, the U.S., Brazil and 42 other countries and territories throughout the world, United Way is helping companies deploy their employees to volunteer in a meaningful way.  Whether companies participate in Mandela Day, United Way’s Day of Action or through their own initiatives, we applaud their efforts to make a difference. 

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