While many people associate April with spring break, Easter, or even tax time, did you know that it’s also National Volunteer Month? This month not only recognizes the importance of volunteering, but also celebrates the contributions made by those who volunteer all year long.
The importance of volunteering is well-known to everyone at FACTS, as giving back is built into the fabric of our organization. One of our core values is to “Give Back to the Communities in Which We Live and Work.” We honor this commitment in many ways, including scholarships, matching gifts programs, charity partnerships, and more. In 2020, we even started the Living Our Core Values Recognition program, with a special award for associates who exemplify the core value of giving back, not only to their local community, but also to their fellow FACTS associates. 2021’s winner, Compliance Analyst Jack Vogel, volunteers extensively with Bikers Against Child Abuse, in addition to other organizations, even shifting into a new role to help prioritize his community work.
Our associates are encouraged to volunteer not only because it’s a part of our Core Values, but because it benefits them as well! Research shows that people who volunteer are more satisfied with their lives and rank their mental health better than those that don’t. Other residents in the state of Nebraska, where FACTS’ headquarters are located, must have realized this too, as recent data from Americorps shows that state-wide, 53.8 million hours of service were performed, making it 6th in the nation for volunteer hours.
At FACTS, we even have a committee dedicated to organizing charitable and volunteer activities, our Social & Giving Back Committee. In March, the committee focused on helping charities in Ukraine, donating to UNICEF, World Central Kitchen, and Sunflower of Peace, as well as sending encouraging cards to refugees through Letters of Hope. A future volunteer event is planned for June in partnership with United Way. Furthermore, our associates are volunteering in more ways every day. In honor of National Volunteer Month, here are just some of the incredible ways that FACTS have given back to their local communities:
- United Way Day of Caring: Last fall, associates participated in United Way’s Day of Caring by volunteering at locations throughout Lincoln, including the Food Bank of Lincoln, YWCA Lincoln, and TeamMates of Lincoln. Volunteer activities included passing out meals, providing childcare for special needs children, and putting together community service program kits. This is only part of our ongoing partnership with the organization; in 2019, we raised over $1 million for local United Way organizations.
- Virtual Food Drives: Even during the pandemic, our team found ways to give back. Associates donated a total of 1,300 meals to those in need during the holiday season.
- CASA: We were proud to spotlight Product Owner Laura Faurot when she became a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) late last year. CASAs volunteer their time as advocates for abused and neglected children in the child welfare system, helping to ease the strain on social workers and prevent anything from falling through the cracks. Laura completed many hours of training to receive this designation and shared her story in our weekly newsletter, hopefully inspiring others to pursue this incredible volunteer opportunity.
- City Impact: In December, members of our team participated in City Impact’s Gifts of Love event, which helps those needing assistance shop for discounted Christmas gifts that have been donated by local organizations (including Nelnet). Associates helped shoppers select gifts, stay on budget, and check out, as well as assisting with inventory.
- Gianna’s Women’s Home: Early this year, team members wrapped up an ongoing service project with St. Gianna’s Women’s Home by donating cash for items the center may need – including clothes, books, toys, and other essentials.
- Little Free Libraries: In 2021, one of our team’s ongoing service projects was to collect books and distribute them throughout their local community as part of Little Free Libraries, the public bookcases that encourage locals to add and borrow books as they please. Associates began collecting books in the summer, with the Texas team wrapping up the project in December. Overall, the team contributed over 1,000 books to local Little Free Libraries.
- Heartland Hope Mission: Associates in our Lincoln and Omaha offices collected and delivered canned goods, clothing, and household items to Heartland Hope Mission, an organization that provides working families struggling to make ends meet with essentials.
- Oak Grove Elementary School: After her daughter accepted a teaching position at this small Title 1 school in Texas and shared her students’ dire need for clothing, Phelecia Leitch, FACTS Regional Vice President – Sales K-12, worked with her church to donate and deliver over 1,500 items of clothing to Oak Grove Elementary School. We highlighted Phelicia’s story in our weekly newsletter, encouraging associates to take action when they see ways they can help.
Thanks to all the FACTS associates that are making their communities better places to live and work every day! We can’t wait to continue creating volunteer opportunities and helping our associates engage with causes they’re passionate about throughout 2022 and beyond. To learn more about how you can make a difference through volunteering in your community, visit www.volunteermatch.org to find upcoming opportunities near you.