During the day, Harry Behrens works as a line technician for Comcast (CMCSA), maintaining main cables lines and fixing outages. But when he gets home to his farmhouse in rural New Jersey, he plants and cares for the ten acres of produce that he distributes to the hungry in surrounding towns. In Jacksonville, Fla., Mike DelPizzo comes home from his quality assurance job at AT&T (T) to a workshop in his garage—where he churns out wooden urns to give families of deceased veterans who can’t afford more than the cardboard box in which they receive the ashes. Toni Bazon-Forsberg, an environmental coordinator for Exelon (EXC), travels the country with her comfort dog, Shami, using her vacation time to deploy in the aftermath of traumatic events like the elementary school shooting in Sandy Hook, Conn. Each of them has dedicated his or her life to the service of others—but they’re also committed employees of some of the largest corporations in America, the Fortune 500.
For the second year in a row, we’ve set out to evaluate the nation’s biggest companies with a metric that isn’t disclosed in their SEC filings: heart. And sure enough, in the ranks of the nation’s biggest companies, we found it. We discovered extraordinary employees—from ground-floor receptionists to top-floor executives—who have committed acts of remarkable kindness and service, putting their time and well-being second to the needs of others. We call them the Heroes of the 500.
This year’s group of 55 individuals represents 46 corporations, and their humanitarianism cuts across an impressive array of interests: They serve veterans, children with cancer, refugees, and sick pets. They respond in emergencies to save lives—and in one case, an entire town. Often, their employers have lent support: donating goods and money, offering flexible work schedules, rallying colleagues, and, in some cases, allowing these employees to make philanthropy their day jobs. It’s easy to forget that Fortune 500 companies are composed of millions of people around the world. But it’s those employees who give humanity to the numbers we so celebrate.