National Volunteer Week was established by executive order in 1974, and its importance is noted anew each year via proclamation from the sitting U.S. president. This year, National Volunteer Week is April 17-23.
While this week serves to both spotlight the impact volunteers make on their communities and encourage people to help light up their corner of the word by volunteering, for AdventHealth team members, volunteering is year-round — as evidenced by the volume and variety of projects occurring throughout the organization, including at corporate headquarters in Altamonte Springs, Florida.
“Volunteering is an integral part of our team culture because it serves as an opportunity for our team members to come together and give back to our communities,” says Mike Griffin, senior vice president of advocacy and public policy for AdventHealth. “At AdventHealth, we are committed to living out our mission in a variety of ways — especially through the spirt of volunteer service. In 2021 alone, corporate services’ team members served 1,098 hours and participated in 46 volunteer projects. AdventHealth is fortunate to have so many team members eager to give of their time and talents.”
Corporate team members have a variety of options from which to choose each month, including cleaning roadsides, helping sort food bank donations and creating tokens of cheer for seniors. Perhaps one of the most popular events is the dresser build to benefit families served by The Mustard Seed of Central Florida. The 20 spaces allotted every other month are quickly snapped up by team members eager to help put together household furnishings needed by those who have suffered disaster or personal tragedy.
A signature event for AdventHealth’s Central Florida Division is the Backpack for Kids drive, which began in 1998. Though it experienced a COVID-19-related hiatus in 2020, the annual event results in the collection of an average 2,500 backpacks each year filled with school supplies. While local schools have helped distribute the backpacks in past years, in 2021, a new partnership was established with organizations that will help extend the program’s reach across three Central Florida counties.
“I receive lots of comments from employees that this is one of their favorite projects for our local community,” says Meghan Israel, HOPE Fund Coordinator for the Central Florida Division and coordinator for the event. “They love to give back! They especially enjoy helping our local elementary students in need get the best start possible for their education. Many of these young students will be our future health care workers!”
All told, in 2021, 1,100 Central Florida Division team members contributed more than 2,000 hours to 150 events. As a measure of community impact, those opportunities were spread across four areas: mental health (47 percent), access to care (24 percent), community development (16 percent) and food security (13 percent).
Putting a nutritional spin on volunteering, the West Florida Division Population Health team recently volunteered at Feeding Tampa Bay. The event served two purposes: to get team members, many new and working from home, together face-to-face, and to learn about a great resource for those faced with food insecurity. Volunteers packaged nearly 22,800 carrots for families and individuals in need of nutritious foods – served up with a heaping helping of fun in the process.
National Walking Day, celebrated this year on April 6, offered AdventHealth Central Texas team members the opportunity to reach out to the community with heart-healthy information in pamphlets and on T-shirts. Participants were encouraged to take a short 15- to 30-minute walk on a designated course, taking in facts about heart health and the benefits of walking posted on signs along the way. A healthy boxed lunch awaited walkers upon completion.
While National Volunteer Week shines a light on the ways in which the health and well-being of the communities in which we live and work benefit from volunteer service, the sense of personal fulfillment that comes from reaching out to serve others cannot be discounted. As Mahatma Gandhi once said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in service to others.”