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Corporate Volunteering Programs Make a Difference

Posted 05/15/2019 by Anna Bosak, Community Affairs Specialist

H.B. Fuller is committed to giving back to our communities around the world. Our employees bring our commitment to life through their willingness to use their skills and donate their time to help others. We want to support our employees to find causes they care about, and have designed corporate volunteering programs that facilitate opportunities for them to get involved and make a difference.

 
Joana Monteiro is a financial compliance manager in the H.B. Fuller Mindelo, Portugal, office. She has been a part of the Finance team for more than six years. Joana also has been an active volunteer in her free time with animal rescue organizations and helping to organize an annual race. 
 
In 2018, however, Joana was inspired to take her volunteer service to an entirely different level. She was aware of the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe, and one day, she read an article about a Portuguese doctor who had volunteered in refugee camps. This sparked a new interest. Feeling a desire to get involved, Joana reached out to the doctor featured in the article, who was able to suggest several nonprofits helping refugees across Europe. 
 
A refugee camp in Katsikas, Greece.The nonprofit that Joana ultimately connected with was Refugee Support Europe. Joana was drawn to Refugee Support’s mission of supporting refugees with dignity, and liked the idea that she could make a real impact in a short amount of time without specialized skills. 
 
Joana decided to commit to helping and made a plan to spend nine days volunteering at a refugee camp in Katsikas, Greece. To make her trip possible, Joana used two of H.B. Fuller’s corporate volunteering programs, which granted her paid time off to volunteer and provided a company donation to Refugee Support in recognition of her service. Joana went even further and raised additional funds from friends and coworkers to support refugees.
 
In March, Joana left for Greece. She shared that, on the flight from Portugal, she couldn’t help but think of the journeys that refugees had made to reach Greece – many left their homes with only a few possessions and were separated from family.
 
Upon arriving in Katsikas, Joana found a large refugee camp with over 1,000 refugees from more than 25 countries. Right away, she noted that Refugee Support had created a welcoming environment within the camp, which helped residents feel more at home. She also saw that there was a high degree of trust between residents and volunteers.
 
Mini market at a refugee camp in Katsikas, Greece. One of Joana’s primary volunteer roles was to work in the free “mini-market” where refugees go to get food. To provide a dignified shopping experience, Refugee Support has established a model where camp residents receive tokens weekly, which they can use to shop for the products of their choice. Joana helped distribute tokens, restock shelves, and assist shoppers. Throughout the week, Joana also had the chance to interact with some of the many children living in the camp.
 
In her time in Greece, Joana saw very clearly that anyone can make a difference as a volunteer: special skills aren’t required, just a willingness to help.
 
Joana returned from her volunteer service proud of the impact she had made – and also recognizing how the experience had impacted her. Much of her volunteer service was completed in teams, and Joana said that she definitely strengthened her collaboration and teamwork skills, which she can now bring back to her daily work with the Finance team at H.B. Fuller. She also has reflected on the personal growth that can come from volunteering. Joana shared: “My first goal with this volunteer work was to become a better person. Now, I’ve realized that I am who I am. My essence as a person is still the same, but this wakeup call brought out my deeper commitment and passion. I am returning as the same person, but with a story to tell, an experience, and with my soul filled by memories of the refugees I met.”
 
H.B. Fuller is proud to have employees like Joana – willing to take personal action to make a difference for those in need. As a company, we are happy to be able to support our employees with corporate volunteering programs that make volunteerism the easy choice.
 
For more stories of how our employees give back, follow #HBFullerCares on social media and visit www.hbfuller.com/community.

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