Cheer Partners was thrilled to kick off our first annual Day of Service this year, held on the Monday after Thanksgiving. With gratitude being a company core value, it is important to us to provide paid time off for our people to give back to their local communities. As a remote but connected team, we were able to make an impact in multiple locations and in a variety of ways, from helping the homeless to preparing holiday gifts for children in need. Hear from each of our team members on their experience.
Aidan Willner, Associate, Employee Communications:
For Cheer Partners’ first annual Day of Service, I joined a group of team members at Island Harvest, an organization providing food and services for people who are hungry, and a voice for people who are in need on Long Island. They have a multitude of incredible programs to service communities in different ways—all centered around food. Originally, I was expecting to be working in the warehouse packing up boxes for distribution, but an influx of volunteers around Thanksgiving had completed the bulk of that work. So, we instead assisted with organizing the seeds that will be delivered to the many sponsored gardens throughout Long Island. While sorting and organizing boxes of seeds with hundreds of plant species, we learned more about the garden program at Island Harvest. They help students learn how to garden in their own communities and at school, educating them on how to grow and cook food. This empowers young students, especially those whose families struggle to put food on the table. While we worked, we also got to hear stories about the students’ experience growing food and bringing some of it home to help feed their families which was incredible to learn about.
Ali Frischman, Senior Associate, Learning and Development, Executive Coaching
Why am I so passionate about learning and development? I live for feeling I get knowing I am equipping people with tools they need to better themselves. At our first annual Day of Service, I was able to know this feeling in a different way, volunteering at the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen in NYC. I was not serving food, though. Instead, I helped in the social services sector. Men and women of all ages entered the church hoping to seek the advice of a social worker, get a free haircut voucher to feel more presentable, or even just pick up toiletries. These people simply wanted to better themselves in even the most basic way, like taking care of their personal hygiene. I cannot tell you the number of people who approached me and, after I provided them with what they needed, thanked me from the bottom of their heart for my time.
This experience was immensely humbling and meaningful, and I plan to return well before next year’s Day of Service. I greatly appreciate the value Cheer Partners places on showing gratitude by giving back to the community.
Betsy Jacobs, Senior Talent Consultant:
This year I participated in Operation Christmas Child, which delivers more 130 million gift-filled shoe boxes to more than 150 different countries. We selected a boy and girl aged 10-14 and filled the empty shoe box with things that a child of that age may need, such as personal hygiene items as well as some fun toys and crafts. Having a child that age myself, it was hard for me to think of children around the world who don’t have even the basic necessities. I look forward to doing it again next year.
Carrie Goldstein, Managing Director and Team Lead, Employee Communications:
When I was little, my biggest source of comfort was a soft, stuffed animal. In fact, I loved stuffed animals so much that I had an “ET” closet filled with them. I passed this love onto my niece, who started the local chapter of a national organization called Stuffed Animals for Emergencies (SAFE). She often collects stuffed animals from her friends, but at this point has exhausted people to ask. I worked with the National SAFE organization and local businesses to request donations, clean the stuffed animals and deliver them where they are needed the most. I can’t imagine losing everything in a hurricane, a fire or other disaster and can only hope these new friends will bring a small measure of comfort and smiles to those who need it.
Cat Colella-Graham, Founder & Managing Partner:
As Island Harvest touches every zip code on Long Island, it is hard to believe that hunger affects every single community. From backpack programs so children can bring food home for the weekend to teaching children and veterans how to grow their own food, they provide direct services targeted at anyone at risk for food insecurity. We spent the day sorting donated packages of seeds with Hillary Hess, the Community Garden Coordinator, who is so dedicated to teaching anyone at any age to grow healthy food—even on a windowsill. They were so welcoming, and I would absolutely go back and spend more time there. A humbling and worthwhile day.
Darcie Peck, Managing Partner:
While my little town of Pound Ridge, NY prides itself on a pastoral feel, only once a year does the whole community come together on an official town cleanup. As an avid walker, I do not feel that this is nearly enough. So, on our community service day, I set out with my walking shoes, dog in tow, and a few garbage bags. Eyes peeled, I picked up cans, bottles, those clam shell packages left over from someone’s lunch, crinkled aluminium foil and countless other tidbits of garbage. Within two miles, my two bags were filled.
Olivia Graham, Senior Associate, Employee Communications, Marketing Lead:
It was only once I arrived at Island Harvest’s Hauppauge office that I remembered my high school had been involved with the organization a few years back. Team members and I arrived on Monday morning and were given a brief background on what Island Harvest does, where their centers or programs are currently, and then were given a tour of their warehouse. I hadn’t realized how many local stores donate their leftover merchandise or inventory to organizations like Island Harvest to redistribute. It’s easier around the holidays to remember that there are families in need, but I was really taken aback to hear about their “meals in schools” program which feeds students whose families are struggling to keep food on the table every day of the year. Our team was supposed to be helping sort inventory but was reassigned to seed sorting. There were hundreds of seed packets that get broken into categories and then sorted into boxes so that Island Harvest can distribute them to families who are then able to plant their own produce. This particular program is especially helpful for children who can feel like they can contribute to their family with something they have created themselves. We had a great time learning more about ways we can pitch in year round in our local communites.
Emily Miller, Talent and Social Associate:
I was very excited that we would be having a company-wide Day of Service. Community Service has long been a part of my life, and I was excited to give back! My initial plan had been to drive and walk around my community picking up garbage and doing anything I came across to help clean up my area. Unfortunately, Baltimore experienced a wild rain and wind storm, so all outside plans had to be tabled. My family and I were able to take advantage of the weather and still have a lot of fun giving back. We were able to collect a car full of bags from our house and our friends’ to donate to our local Salvation Army. We also stocked up on toiletries and brought them to my parents’ church where they are accepting donations for Jacob’s Well, a local hospice center. Finally, we were able to help repair a broken window for a neighbor, just in time for all of the bad weather! I think a Day of Service was a great bookend to Thanksgiving weekend, as it gave us the opportunity to reflect on everything we are thankful for, then give back in our areas in a variety of ways.
Lisa Fedrizzi, Senior Lead, Talent:
When I was younger, I volunteered every holiday to deliver hot meals to seniors in need. I never thought about where the food came from or who donated their time and money to these great programs. Getting to spend time at Island Harvest and seeing all of the great work they do for families in need on Long Island was humbling to say the least. Not only do they provide meals and essential toiletries for families, but they teach children and veterans how to grow their own food. We spent our time sorting seeds that would eventually be given to children to help them grow their own garden of vegetables and fruits for their families. Truly an amazing and heart warming experience.
Matthew Garawitz, Associate:
I have always loved giving back to my community, wherever that may be. In college, I was a member of the Alliance of Heroic Hearts, a group that brought inspiration and cheer to children with mental, physical and terminal disabilities. Now that I have graduated, I make an effort to give back to my hometown. Goodwill is a fantastic organization, working to strengthen lives and families with each donated good. I spent the weekend before our service day asking around to both my friends and family, gathering multiple bags of clothes and toys to be donated to our local Goodwill. The staff was so friendly and appreciative of our combined donations. It was a great feeling to know that instead of just throwing my old things away or burying them in my closet that someone was getting a warm jacket for the winter that they desperately needed.
We are proud to offer this benefit to our people, and look forward to next year’s Day of Service.