Seed sorting, harvesting, watering, weeding, repairing greenhouses, preparing for snacks and lunch, painting rocks, mulching and clearing a huge area of assorted lumber and other materials … in all, we provided 347 hours of support when 58 people from the Calgary office – and four children of staff – headed out to Grow Calgary's 11-acre urban farm in August 2017. Close to 100% volunteer-run, Grow Calgary sends fresh, healthy, local and pesticide-free harvest to social agencies in Calgary that serve those who are homeless or in need of food support.
In June 2016, 25 staff from Drayton Valley and Calgary volunteered with the Nature Conservancy of Canada to support the ongoing conservation and stewardship of the NCC's Coyote Lake Nature Sanctuary. Working alongside NCC staff, our volunteers spent the morning tackling clean-up and maintenance projects to ensure the site is safe for the people and wildlife that frequent the sanctuary, including: removing a deck from an old home site located on the property; hauling out other debris, including cement paving stones and old flower planters; removing a fence section to make it safer for a wildlife crossing; painting bee nesting boxes, benches and picnic tables; removing invasive orange hawkweed; and replacing old signs with new ones.
In July 2017, the Finance and Human Resources teams from our Harlingen and Amsterdam locations stepped out of their offices and into their aprons to lend a hand as we helped one of our new Municipal Linkage Program partners, Resto VanHarte, launch KinderRestos in the Frisian capital of Leeuwarden. Research indicates that when families suffer from a lack of resources, it has a negative impact on the quality of food offered to children. The KinderResto offers the children a safe environment where they are taught about a healthy lifestyle through hands-on workshops where fun and team spirit are a priority. Our team helped local KinderResto volunteers cook a healthy lunch for the entire primary school, including oatmeal pancakes, and run a sports event for the children in the afternoon.
Last fall, 13 staff from our Australia Business Unit volunteered with St Bartholomew's House, helping 13 residents from the Community Supported Residential Units enjoy the organization's first-ever camp. St Bartholomew's House, which we’ve supported since 2009, helps people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness achieve positive life outcomes. The camp took place at the Woodman Point Recreation Camp and was jam-packed with activities, from the physical (vertical challenges, raft building and group fitness) to the more chilled (bingo and kite making). Working alongside St Bart's staff, our volunteers joined campers in the activities, adding positive encouragement to "give it a go."
In March 2017, employees helped out with a food drive to support the Restos du Coeur in Rubelles, in our Paris Basin region. Restos du Coeur provides those experiencing poverty with access to free meals and supports their social and economic integration, as well as any action against poverty in all its forms. Twice a year, their Melun unit holds a food drive in a supermarket, where volunteers inform customers about the campaign and accept food donations. Our staff have been supporting this event since 2014, because, as one of our volunteers says, "Heart is life. We have to give as long as we can."
Our US Business Unit regularly volunteers at the Food Bank of the Rockies in Denver, which is almost 100% volunteer driven. In April 2017, seven staff sorted, counted, bagged, boxed and distributed 6,500 pounds of potatoes that had been donated by a local farmer. They followed this up in June 2017, by helping in the distribution warehouse, filling orders for 36 organizations in need, including local churches, schools, and mental health facilities. That afternoon our eight staff packed, stacked and shrink-wrapped 50,900 pounds of food and supplies.
Each year, the Schönefeld Refugee Centre near Berlin hosts a Summer Festival. In July 2016, 12 staff from our German Business Unit gave their time to help make it a success for the residents. In addition to supplying the halal BBQ, beverages, benches, tables, toys and hiring a professional kids’ face painter, we helped prepare for the event, and organized games for the children for a fun and happy day. The Vermilion team were also joined by other teams from around Schönefeld: the Wassmannsdorf kindergarten, the Schönefeld police department and the Wassmannsdorf church, to name a few.