Over the last two months, BlueGranite has encouraged team members to spend a work day volunteering with a nonprofit organization of their choice. This was the second year that BlueGranite has offered an opportunity to employees to volunteer, and by far, we thought it was another great success! The work was rewarding, plus allowed us all to give back to our communities. Read on to see a quick summary of some of the organizations we worked with this year and how we were able to help out.
Left to right: Justin Bahr, Jon Trapane, Robert Hutchison, Erik Roll, Mike Depoian
Kalamazoo Loaves & Fishes
Most BlueGranite employees work remotely, but we did have plenty of opportunities to get together in our major hubs across the U.S. to volunteer. This year in Kalamazoo, Michigan, we chose to spend our day volunteering with a local food bank, Kalamazoo Loaves & Fishes (KLF).
KLF started almost 40 years ago with a mission to end hunger in our community and help families put food on the table when they couldn’t afford to. Today, our local distribution center provides food to 73 food banks throughout Kalamazoo County via donations and what KLF deems its “pennies-on-the-pound purchasing power,” providing groceries to over 700 families per day.
Fourteen of us (myself included) joined forces to sort through all kinds of food throughout the day. We started with sorting through and boxing up fresh corn, potatoes, and cabbage that had been donated by farmers so that it would be ready for distribution. Our group then boxed dozens upon dozens of eggs, as well as re-labeled and boxed canned goods to be distributed across the county. It felt great to give back and lend a hand to the large volunteer team at KLF!
Left to right: Jacque Carlson, Amanda Mulholland, Angela DeYoung, Zach Conroe, Dan Meyers, Matthew Mace, Larry Baker, Eric Wozniak, Carrie Renfrow
Austin Habitat for Humanity
Moving farther south, BlueGranite’s Texas-based team spent its Day of Service working at Austin’s Habitat for Humanity (AHFH). AHFH is dedicated to trying to end the cycle of poverty housing and deeply believes that everyone deserves a decent, affordable place to live.
Our three Texas team members spent the day moving and loading doors, windows, and pallets of tile to assigned areas to be utilized by AHFH’s construction team.
Top left photo, from left to right: Jenny Tseng, Steve Krause, Mike Cornell
Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina
In North Carolina, BlueGranite’s Charlotte team of four returned to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina – the same organization the group gave its time to last year. This food bank has a wide reach, spanning 19 counties. Second Harvest also works with multiple charitable agencies and distributes more than 50 million pounds of food annually in its fight against hunger.
In addition to food donations from supermarkets, large retailers in the area also donate all sorts of returned goods that cannot be sold. This year, the team spent its day sorting through a truck of those donated goods, including diapers, pillows, mops, and more.
Left photo, from left to right: Jerry Lukomskiy, Colby Ford, Vincent Staropoli, Melissa Coates
Our Charlotte team was not the only group that chose to revisit its charity from last year. Jim Bennett and his family spent his Day of Service working with Camp Barakel again – a summer camp located in Northern Michigan. Jim has been volunteering for the camp for many years. This year, he spent his time serving food to over 200 campers, washing dishes after each meal, and assisted in cleaning the facility.
Jim Bennett getting ready for clean up.
My Very Own Blanket
In Columbus, Ohio, Josh Crittenden and Lindsay Pinchot spent their day working together at a local nonprofit called My Very Own Blanket (MVOB). MVOB creates blankets for children in foster care, dedicating its work to help children feel comforted and valued. Josh and Lindsay helped to prepare fleece blankets, organized the nonprofit’s workshop, and boxed up finished blankets for delivery.
Middle photo: Josh Crittenden; Right photo: Lindsay Pinchot
Jordan River Clean Sweep
Levi Syck spent his Day of Service volunteering with the Jordan River Clean Sweep. This is an annual river clean-up put on by the Antrim Conservation District, Michigan AmeriCorps, and Paddle Antrim. A group of around 30 people, including Levi, used its time to clean the river in canoes, kayaks and a drift boat.
The Jordan River is a designated Natural River in the northwestern part of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Due to its natural beauty, Michigan's legislature has created a Natural Rivers program as a protection effort to preserve the quality of select river systems throughout the state. Like many rivers, it receives an ample amount of canoe, kayak and tube traffic throughout the year, and all this traffic leads to a lot of garbage left behind or lost when a paddler flips their boat. Cleanups like this are necessary to maintain the river for everyone, including the participants, to enjoy.
Levi Syck helping with the river cleanup.
CoderDojo is a global nonprofit aiming to provide volunteer-led, community-based computer programming clubs for young people between the ages of 7 to 17. David Barnhart used his Day of Service working with kids to teach them new tips and tricks as they start learning to code.
David Barnhart teaching kids how to code.
Feeding Tampa Bay
Jason Brugger volunteered with Feeding Tampa Bay, part of the national Feeding America network, an organization devoted to ending hunger in the greater Tampa Bay area. The food bank aids more than 700,000 people in need across 10 counties in West Central Florida.
Jason helped to sort and box up food to get it ready for distribution to his local community.
Jason Brugger getting ready to sort produce.
Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity
Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity (TCHFH) works hard to help improve lives across almost 10 counties spanning metropolitan Minneapolis. Since the organization started in 1985, it has helped over 1,200 local families purchase and restore homes for safe and healthy living.
Merrill Aldrich and Jared Zagelbaum volunteered for TCHFH for their Day of Service. They spent their day mostly outdoors, working with the organization to fix up a house and get it ready for a family to move in.
Left to right: Jared Zagelbaum, Merrill Aldrich
Denver Rescue Mission
Last but certainly not least, BlueGranite’s team in Colorado got together to volunteer for the Denver Rescue Mission. The Denver Rescue Mission is committed to helping people in its area who are experiencing homelessness and addiction. The organization’s goal is to transform the lives of people in the community through education and accountability, along with much-needed help from local volunteers. The organization helps teach residents how save money and develop the life skills and relationships needed to maintain self-sufficiency after graduating from the Rescue Mission’s program.
Our team helped clean the dining room and serve lunch to residents, working through one of the organization’s residential programs for homeless and needy in the suburban Denver area.
Left to right: Andy Lathrop, Nathaniel Scharer, Meagan Longoria
We are too! That’s why we set aside time every summer to work with our local communities to give back. We’re looking forward to next year already!