Community Involvement Leaders

“I admire Mahatma Ghandi. He was the true “Superman.” He’s one of the few people to ever implement a path to find truth and to fight injustice and to do this selflessly. Living in a world of violence and injustice, this man taught peace, lived peace and used peace to bring about change. He never looked at personal gain.”

– Darrin Gleeman of New York, New York

Topping our lists of people to admire are community involvement leaders, leading the way with their commitment to their neighborhoods. Our favorite community involvement leaders eagerly take on volunteer opportunities and also encourage employee involvement. And in times of tragedy, disaster recovery heroes’ commitment is unflagging; they refuse to be stopped no matter how much resistance they face.

Darrin Gleeman of New York, New York talks about community involvement leaders to admire and Carol Chapman of Columbia, South Carolina discusses some “regular” people who shone when they became disaster recovery heroes.

Corporate Community Involvement Leaders Shine by Darrin Gleeman of New York, New York

Companies have a choice; they can become community involvement leaders or they can shun volunteer opportunities in favor of focusing on work. Companies that don’t promote volunteerism often provide other ways for employees to give back, through annual fund drives and donations. But corporate community involvement leaders that I admire have found that tackling hands-on volunteer opportunities benefits them- and their communities- in a number of ways.

Community Involvement Leaders Benefit From Positive Press, Happy Employees
The positive press and image branding that comes with being a community involvement leader is priceless, say volunteer-minded companies. It speaks volumes about a company’s commitment to the community. Taking advantage of volunteer opportunities also shows the core values of a company’s spirit. And, more and more often, employees are insisting that employers take a leadership role in community involvement. People spend most of their waking hours at work, and they want their days to be fulfilled. Many companies have taken an active role as community involvement leaders. Thecorporate executives charged with making their companies active in volunteer opportunities, paving the way for other companies to follow, deserve some recognition and our admiration:

Community Involvement Leaders: Home Depot’s Robert Nardelli  
Home Depot’s chief executive Robert Nardelli is at the forefront of community involvement leaders that we admire. Home Depot plans to spend $25 million dollars building playgrounds in areas that don’t have them- much to the delight of the neighborhoods’ kids. Under Nardellis’ leadership, employees- including top level executives- pitch in to help build the parks. In 2006, Home Depot employees donated 2 million hours to community service. And now, Nardelli is on a mission, working with other CEOs from companies including Delta Airlines, Albertson’s grocery stores and BellSouth to encourage even more community involvement leadership. Nardelli and the group of CEOs hope to increase corporate volunteers by more than 6 million by 2009.

GE’s Bob Corcoran Jumps on Volunteer Opportunities
General Electric’s Vice President of Corporate Citizenship, Bob Corcoran, is setting the bar for corporate volunteer opportunities. GE’s Citizenship Report, first published in 2003, details the efforts of the company’s charitable foundation. The report is as detailed as some company’s annual reports, and explicitly outlines the company’s dedication and commitment to ongoing volunteer opportunities. Under Corcoran’s guidance, General Electric has provided worldwide educational funds, disaster relief, stepped up eco-friendly company initiatives and backed numerous charitable organizations. Treating volunteer opportunities like a well-organized business has worked for Bob Corcoran, GE and the many people they have helped with their time and donations.

Disaster Recovery Heroes Save the Day by Dr. Brett Ferdinand of Montreal, Canada
Inevitably, when we discuss disaster recovery heroes that we admire, we have to talk about Katrina. Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, Louisiana in August 2005. Years later, New Orleans is still trying to make a comeback. Due to a lot of governmental red tape, and a general mishandling of Katrina-related problems, New Orleans’ return to its former Southern grandeur has been slow and awkward. There have been some bright spots, in the form of grass roots organizations and disaster recovery heroes, who are helping New Orleans get back to what it used to be- or even better.

Unlikely Disaster Recovery Heroes Revitalize New Orleans
The people who stand out as disaster recovery heroes after Katrina are often not the most likely of heroes. Doris Hicks, an educator, got tired of waiting around for government assistance, and re-opened the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Charter School for Science and Technology by almost single-handedly organizing volunteers and donations to rebuild the school. Superintendent Doris Voitier, another unlikely disaster recovery hero, also took action when she became fed up with waiting for FEMA. Voitier took matters into her own hands, successfully opening the first of several schools less than three months after the hurricane struck New Orleans.

“Regular” People Became Disaster Recovery Heroes after Katrina
Latoya Cantrell also became frustrated by interminable government delays on emergency funding. She organized the Broadmoor Improvement Association, corralling her own volunteers and organizing fundraising efforts. To date, more than 2/3 of homes in their neighborhood have been rebuilt under Cantrell’s watch. And more than 300 neighborhood associations meet every month in New Orleans. It’s hang-in-there-by-your-thumbs grassroots organization at its best. And it’s more than admirable. It gives us hope that with help from these hard-working, unexpected disaster recovery heroes, the city of New Orleans will reign again.

We thank our contributors:

  • Darrin Gleeman of New York, New York
  • Dr. Brett Ferdinand of Montreal, Canada

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