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Everyone benefits when you let employees follow philanthropic passions

November 25, 2021, 11:54 AM UTC
The Greater Boston Food Bank is the hub of emergency food assistance in Eastern Massachusetts, providing food to 600 distribution partners in 190 cities and towns.
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Whether it’s showing support for charitable causes, volunteering in the community, or making donations, corporate philanthropy can have major benefits for companies. When they create a culture of “giving back,” businesses can foster a strong sense of community and become more attractive to talented individuals who want to work with an employer who cares about their community and the world.

When I attended the annual Greater Boston Food Bank’s (GBFB) Women Fighting Hunger breakfast six years ago, I didn’t know the significant impact it would have upon me. The client speaker at the breakfast was a young female immigrant who was supporting herself and her ill mother. She was working 40 hours a week, attending school, and learning a new language, all while taking on the role of her mother’s caregiver. She spoke with great courage about the challenges of coming to the U.S. with next to nothing, and how the food assistance that she had received from GBFB was life-changing. Her testimony was so powerful I was hooked, and I knew I needed to do more.

Food insecurity, which means not having enough to eat and sometimes having no food at all, remains a persistent issue. According to Feeding America, one in 10 Americans in Eastern Massachusetts are expected to experience food insecurity this year–a 30% increase over pre-covid levels.

Despite household incomes growing, economic inequality continues to widen, which was further exacerbated by the pandemic. A recent study out of Harvard showed that as COVID-19 spread, many businesses lost revenue and laid off their employees, particularly low-income workers. Nearly 50% of low-wage workers working in the highest-rent ZIP codes lost their jobs.

The Greater Boston Food Bank is the hub of emergency food assistance in Eastern Massachusetts, providing food to 600 distribution partners in 190 cities and towns. As the world went on lockdown, demand for food assistance skyrocketed. Fear around contracting the virus did not deter anyone at the food bank. We put together Family Food Boxes, filled with 32 pounds of pantry staples that could be handed out with safety precautions.

The warehouse workers and truck drivers were there at four a.m., working tirelessly to make deliveries to meet the demand. They modified delivery processes to enable safety and social distancing with drive-by distribution sites. They are frontline workers and they too saved lives with almost no fanfare.

As a financial advisor with UBS, I work with clients daily to help them grow and protect their assets. I often speak to clients who want to help those in need but don’t know where to start. Volunteering with your local food bank is a great way to give back to your community beyond monetary support. Donations are very important, but personally, I’ve found it’s most fulfilling to directly witness the impact your support can have by being there and knowing that the box of food you’re filling is going to help someone in need.

UBS employees are encouraged to support their communities year-round through hands-on and skills-based volunteering. The firm is a supporter of Feeding America, which supports the work of the GBFB in this region and I currently serve on the Board of Advisors of the GBFB and as co-chair of the Women Fighting Hunger breakfast, the second-largest fundraiser supporting the organization. When our office went entirely remote during the pandemic, my team members and I volunteered as a way to remain connected in unprecedented times and to be together–socially distanced—when our only other contact was virtual or on the phone. Giving back to our community allowed us to feel an added sense of joy, knowing that we were working together to help those in need.

UBS’s support for the GBFB has made me proud to work at a firm that values compassion and giving back to our community. If you are a leader, it’s important to ask yourself, “What is my organization doing to support our employees’ passions?” and “Is there more we could do?” Whether it be introducing a donation match program, allocating more paid hours to volunteering, or organizing a group volunteering event, it’s pivotal that leaders encourage their teams to get involved and take advantage of opportunities to help those in need and to foster a culture of “giving back.”

Camille Valentine is a financial advisor at UBS Wealth Management.

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