How 7 Team Members Spent Their Aha! Cares Volunteer Day
A walk in the woods picking up trash. A day spent gardening or fixing up someone's house. Do those sound like typical volunteer projects? Maybe not, but there are always new ways to serve others in need. Throughout the pandemic, many Aha! team members sought ways to support their communities, often finding that the best ways to give were close to home.
Serving others does not have to be a grand gesture — there are many ways to give your time to better your community.
Service to others is a key pillar of Aha! — reflected in our Aha! Cares program. It encompasses our philanthropic efforts across four critical areas — food, safety, shelter, and opportunity. One of the fundamental ways that we give back through Aha! Cares is by empowering team members to champion charitable organizations in their local communities. We have committed $350,000 to charitable giving this year alone and almost $1 million over the last few years.
We also encourage the team to take a paid community service day to volunteer in their communities. And we collectively volunteer during our company-wide gatherings twice a year — even during the pandemic, when we met virtually.
In the last 18 months, many nonprofits had to cancel or adjust their usual programs out of concern for public safety. But even in a time of social distancing, there are ways to offer support to people and organizations in need. I asked the team to share how they found ways to safely volunteer, even if it took a little extra planning and creativity.
Here is how seven Aha!s found unique ways to give back:
Hike your trails
"My husband and I noticed a growing amount of trash on the local trails and thought we could do something about it. We made our own garbage pokers, put on some gloves, and spent the day picking up a surprising amount of trash — five full bags and a truck bed! The trails are right in our backyard. Many people stopped to thank us and a few even said they were going to ask their companies to support a similar policy. That felt amazing." — Jennifer Bloom, Customer Success
"Many of us have picked up new hobbies and routines lately. For my family in Ottawa, we have taken to hiking the local trails — and I realized there was a way to turn my new interest into a something that could help the local community. Armed with a makeshift poker, I hiked and picked up garbage on the trails. Leaving the environment better than I found it felt great, and spending the day outside in the sun with my dog cleaning was pretty amazing. There is not much better than that." — Shawn Zenz, Customer Success
Dig in the dirt
"I volunteered locally with another Aha! to help a family build a raised garden bed. We did this through a non-profit called Friends of Fieldworkers that was founded to help families that had lost their homes to wildfires, on top of being subject to tough conditions and low wages. As a Southern California native, this cause meant a lot to me. The family was so appreciative and I will never forget their smiles." — Jamey Iaccino, People Success
"Thousands of people experience some level of food insecurity in the metro area where I live, and this has been exacerbated over the past 18 months. I wanted to find a way to help those in my community that need it most. So, I volunteered for a regional food bank by organizing and packing non-perishable food items. Knowing that I was making a direct impact on feeding people was a truly meaningful experience for me." — Scott Goldblatt, Customer Success
Put shots in arms (or just schedule them)
"I signed up for a shift at a drive-thru vaccination site where I helped schedule second appointments. Everyone I talked to was so grateful and they kept saying how well-run the operation was. It felt really good to know I was helping out my community in a time of great need." — Todd Meyer, Customer Success
Join up with friends
"A group of Aha!s in the area got together to volunteer with Fleece & Thank You. We checked over handmade blankets for children that have been hospitalized. It was a small way to help kids in our local hospitals receive a bit of comfort while they are sick. And not only was it rewarding to give back, but it was also great to connect with my Aha! team members." — Kristina Gass, Customer Success
"I went with a few Aha! teammates to help out at Casa Marianella, a shelter for displaced immigrants. We helped them clean up the house interior by organizing a storage room and repainting. I had been to that part of town before, but I never knew that a refuge like this was tucked away on a neighborhood side street. This helped me see that there are opportunities to help people everywhere — I just needed to go out and find them." — Joon Shin, Marketing
Volunteer work not only enriches communities — it creates connection and memories for the team.
No matter where you live or what causes matter to you, you can always find new ways to serve others in your local community. We believe it is our responsibility to aid those in need — you find that you become a better version of yourself in doing so. So roll up your sleeves, find a friend to join you, and we will see you out there.
What kind of volunteer work are you most interested in?