Through the challenges of the past year, it has become more important than ever to look out for one another. Share kindness. And recognize needs in our community. For our fourth annual team volunteer day, called Powered By Good Day, our team members spent time giving back to nonprofits across the state. Together, we embraced the power of community by cultivating a feeling of connectedness with our neighbors and local partners.
Not only do we exist to support the financial wellbeing of individuals, families, small businesses, and communities in Michigan, but we also serve as an engine of member and community wellbeing. Guided by our four purpose statements, we work to connect people and resources to enhance the quality of life for people in our state. To do this, we worked with various nonprofit partners to identify areas of need and opportunities where we could help.
Over 74 percent of our team members chose to donate time on their day off during the federal holiday to give back to causes that they are passionate about. With a combined total of 1,128 volunteer hours, we provided services at three food banks; several food pantries; four agencies that assist with shelter, clothing, and other essential needs; and even helped one agency that supports the re-entry of previously incarcerated individuals back into their communities. Considering the current value of volunteer time is $28.54/hour1, we helped local nonprofits save an estimated $32,193.12 in just one day.
In addition to our volunteer efforts, we also donated a total of $28,500 among the nonprofits we served.
Enhancing Community Wellbeing
Organizations like Brilliant Detroit are helping to close the literacy gap for students in Michigan communities. During Powered By Good Day, 27 team members volunteered to virtually record themselves reading a book and share this recording with Brilliant Detroit. Virtual learning opportunities help youth with reading comprehension, assist with their education, and increase confidence.
Spending time outdoors and in nature can also increase mental wellbeing and promote family and community connection. Recognizing the benefits of having a safe space to learn, play, and grow, our team helped clean and sanitize the playground at Alpha House in Ann Arbor and at Family Promise of Barry County in Hastings.
To further support learning and outdoor activities, some team members volunteered at the Howell Nature Center to help maintain and preserve the grounds at the Cultural Education Global Village. Instructors at the Howell Nature Center provide educational programs to help children become future leaders of environmental stewardship and conservation.2 With more knowledge about natural resources, wildlife, and the environmental impact of our actions, we can work together to preserve the beauty of Michigan for future generations.
Providing Healthy, Nutritious Meals
Hunger continues to remain a prevalent issue in our communities. A fluctuating job market and changes in household finances added to this issue and more than 38 million people faced hunger in the United States in 2020, including more than 12 million children.
To help provide more healthy, nutritious meals to those in need, we harvested food and prepped the community gardens at Allen Neighborhood Center and the Greater Lansing Food Bank. Prepping the garden for winter at Love In Action in Grand Haven normally takes the agency about a week to do. In just four hours, our team had the area ready for a new season.
We also volunteered to unload, sort, and organize food donations at Saline Area Social Services, Greater Lansing Food Bank, Capuchin Soup Kitchen in Detroit, and the following organizations:
- Gleaners Mercado in Detroit: Packed 72 baskets of food
- Lighthouse MI in Waterford: Sorted food donations and packed 300 boxes in preparation for Thanksgiving
- Meals On Wheels in Livingston County: Packed 600 meals and completed 28 delivery routes across Livingston, delivering meals and providing a wellbeing check on seniors
- Gleaners in Howell: Packed 2,000 bags of food to feed families in need
- Food Bank of Eastern Michigan in Flint: Sorted and packed 7,000 pounds of food
- Food Gatherers in Ann Arbor: Packaged 5,336 pounds of food
Supporting Financial Security
It’s important to routinely shred outdated documents that contain personal or sensitive information. If this information is thrown away, it could end up in the wrong hands and increases the risk of identity theft. But destroying documents can be a time-consuming task. To help our members and the community protect their information, we hosted a community shred event at our Downtown Lansing branch.
In total, we shredded 6,000 pounds of paper and recycled every piece.
In exchange for utilizing the industrial shred service, we asked people to consider donating to Meals For Michigan. The donations from this day totaled enough to provide 1,850 meals to those in need!
Helping Community Organizations
According to the most recent ALICE Report from the United Way, 13 percent of Michigan households live below the poverty line and another 25 percent live below the ALICE threshold.4 ALICE (Assent Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) households have an income above the federal poverty line but still struggle to make ends meet and afford basic necessities, like food, clothing, housing, childcare, technology, health care, and transportation.
This is why local nonprofit organizations are so essential. By offering programs and assisting with basic needs, community nonprofits are essential to helping struggling households on the path to self-sufficiency. These organizations often rely on donations from the community. Knowing that it takes valuable time to sort and organize donations, our team pitched in at Love Inc. in Howell; Salvation Army in Lansing; Michigan Foster Care Closet in Plymouth; Community Action House in Holland; Neighborhood House Closet in Rochester Hills; Second Chance Support Network in Brighton; and Haven House in East Lansing.
Continuing To Make An Impact
The economic and social effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are far from over. As we ease back into our normal routines, it’s important to remember that there are still many unmet needs in our communities. Whether you volunteer for one hour or 1,000 hours, your efforts matter and make a difference in the life of someone who needs help in your neighborhood.
That’s the power in all of us.