In the world of community outreach — as in most other ways — a lot of the good things that happen around here come directly from our employees. The company can just stand back, get out of the way, and let them happen.
I was reminded of that truth in the past few weeks, as our people devised, engineered and executed a series of inspiring events in South Jersey. The first was a peanut-butter-and-jelly drive to stock the pantries of Feeding 5000 (F-5K), a local organization that every week takes meals (and often clothes) to the hungry and indigent in the Philadelphia area. ARI’s Noele Walters sits on the F-5K board, and was aware of the shortage of food in the organization’s kitchen. Joining forces with Holman Corporate’s Char Renne and David Citrin, the three organized a PB&J drive among Holman businesses in the area to restock the F-5K food cache. Employees responded with such enthusiasm that the shelves at F-5K were groaning, in fact overflowing, with donations. The excess was contributed to, and very gratefully accepted by, the Fellowship Alliance Chapel’s food pantry.
A few weeks later, Holman’s new Community Coordinator Crystal (Pepper) Davis — new to the corporate offices after a 25-year career at ARI – approached me with an idea. Crystal spends one afternoon a month reading to preschoolers as part of the Center for Family Services Born to Read program, and wanted to start a book drive for these children. One day later, ARI’s Kim Carty emailed me with her own designs on a book drive to help grade-schoolers in her hometown of Millville. Kim combined forces with Crystal, and then the two dynamos enlisted the aid of Howard Chattley, Debbie Petitto, Kristy Waldron, Emily Salamone, Michele Nielubowicz, Matt Watkins, and Betty Jones in a One Holman literary extravaganza. Before it was over, this crew had collected almost 1,600 children’s books from Holman employees. An amazing feat!
Finally, last weekend saw the latest installment of the Autism Speaks Walk. No discussion of how individual employees can create major and lasting impact would be complete without mentioning ARI’s Melissa Birmingham. Because of Melissa’s passion for this charity, Autism Speaks has become a cherished cause among Holman employees; the very location of the walk – ARI’s Global Headquarters in Mt. Laurel – is a tribute to her focus. Last year she was honored for her efforts by the regional offices of Autism Speaks, and not surprisingly, this year Melissa was the top fundraiser among all walkers at the event, and her Team Holman was the top fundraising team.
When a company is lucky enough to have people like ours, the best thing to do is just get out of the way.