The current labor shortage plaguing companies across industries is having an even bigger impact on non-profit organizations that lean heavily on volunteer support. Attracting and retaining volunteers— amid a pandemic—is no easy feat. But the need for these non-profit organizations has never been greater.
To help support the Kansas City community—where SMG is headquartered—we began an annual Day of Giving, when SMG employees can pick from a selected group of local nonprofits to volunteer alongside fellow coworkers and complete various tasks facilitated by the organization.
In today’s blog, we talked with SMG’s charity cadre member Jamie Yust to learn more about the event and the local nonprofits selected this year.
How did SMG’s annual Day of Giving come to be?
The first annual Day of Giving was in fall 2019. SMG started giving employees eight hours of charity PTO per year in 2018. Teams started doing their own volunteer events at local organizations they were passionate about. In 2019, the idea to start an annual Day of Giving was born to encourage employees to utilize their charity PTO. Though we didn’t hold an in-person event in 2020 due to the pandemic, we were so excited to have the opportunity to meet up again in 2021.
Why do you think this event is so important?
This event is important for more than one reason. It feels good to get out of your day-to-day routine and spend time giving back to a community that our employees love so much. It’s difficult to take time during the work week because it’s easy to get bogged down with busy schedules—and most of us have been working remotely for a year and a half. Having an opportunity to see coworkers, many outside of our immediate teams, is a great reminder of why the culture at SMG is so great. No better combo than giving back and spending quality time with coworkers!
How does the charity cadre select which organizations to serve?
I asked the charity cadre members to do what SMG does best—research. Each charity cadre member came prepared to our Day of Giving planning meeting with 1–2 local organizations whose mission inspired them and were in need of volunteer help. In the meeting, we reviewed locations, what the volunteer activity would be, and how many volunteers were needed to ensure we were giving SMG employees a variety of options.
The local organizations SMG partnered with on this year’s Day of Giving held Sept. 9 were:
Amethyst Place | After more than two decades of transforming lives and healing generations, Amethyst Place believes their work is more than a mission; it’s a noble cause. They inspire transformational healing and empower generations of women and children to achieve recovery, reunification, and resilience. Each year, they provide nearly 200 women and children in Kansas City with truly comprehensive, family-centered care to help them overcome the interconnected cycles of poverty, trauma, and substance use to achieve multi-generational impact.
Children’s Mercy | Children's Mercy is a leading independent children's health organization dedicated to holistic care, translational research, breakthrough innovation, and educating the next generation of caregiver—transforming the health, well-being, and potential of children, with unwavering compassion for those most vulnerable.
Girls on the Run | Girls on the Run is a physical activity-based positive youth development (PA-PYD) program designed to enhance girls’ social, emotional, and physical skills and behaviors to successfully navigate life experiences. The program’s intentional curriculum places an emphasis on developing competence, confidence, connection, character, caring, and contribution in young girls through lessons that incorporate running and other physical activities. The life skills curriculum is delivered by caring and competent coaches who are trained to teach lessons as intended.
Habitat for Humanity ReStore | Habitat ReStores are independently owned reuse stores operated by local Habitat for Humanity organizations. ReStores accept donations and sell a constantly changing inventory of diverse, high-quality merchandise to the public at a fraction of the retail price, while diverting reusable household items and building materials from area landfills. Sales of donated items help Habitat for Humanity partner with local families to build, rehabilitate, and repair safe and affordable homes in the community and around the world.
Harvesters | Harvesters is a regional food bank serving a 26-county area of northwestern Missouri and northeastern Kansas. Harvesters provides food and related household products to more than 760 nonprofit agencies including emergency food pantries, community kitchens, homeless shelters, children’s homes, and others. They also offer education programs to increase community awareness of hunger and teach about good nutrition.
Pet Resource Center of Kansas City | Pet Resource Center of Kansas City (formerly Spay and Neuter Kansas City) was formed in 2002 with an aim to decrease the number of homeless pets in the Greater Kansas City area. Their mission is to decrease pet homelessness, increase pet retention, and improve the quality of life for pets through supportive services for families in need. They are the only targeted spay/neuter program in the community dedicated to assisting families despite financial means.
Rose Brooks | Rose Brooks Center is about saving lives—not only protecting hundreds of adults, children, and their pets who need emergency shelter to escape life-threatening abuse, but thousands of families in the community who need support and resources. Through their mission to break the cycle of domestic violence so that individuals and families can live free of abuse, they serve as a leader of innovative comprehensive family violence services, sharing their legacy of hope through advocacy, education, and empowerment.
Splitlog Farm | Splitlog Farm is a unique urban farm where students as young as preschoolers come over for outdoor, age-appropriate plant science courses. They germinate seeds, plant seedlings, and harvest produce for their cafeteria. The farm is an excellent example of how a small space can be used to grow a substantial amount of food, and kids are a big part of that. On just a third of an acre plot, Splitlog grows more than 1,600 pounds of produce, which is distributed to the community. The lot also features an orchard and a small natural playground.
Thelma’s Kitchen | The mission of Thelma’s Kitchen is to cultivate a community seeking reconciliation to transform Troost from a dividing line to a gathering place, revealing the strength of all. Thelma’s Kitchen is here to meet very real needs in the area for affordable food access and to gather people together for vibrant community life. When we serve together and sit and share a meal together, we begin to understand what it means to be a community. Thelma’s Kitchen is a gathering place, where everyone is welcome!
Veterans Community Project | Veterans Community Project was founded by a group of combat veterans in Kansas City who resolved to stand in the gaps of a broken system that left too many of their brothers and sisters behind. Their solution to provide critical support services includes The Veteran Outreach Center, a walk-in center to serve as a one-stop-shop for every type of veteran facing every type of problem; and the VCP Village, a specialized community of tiny homes combined with onsite services to get homes veterans off the street and transition them to permanent housing. Using Kansas City as the blueprint for achieving similar successes in cities across the United States, VCP has officially begun its expansion with the mission of serving 8 communities by 2022.
This year’s Day of Giving was a huge success, with nearly 100 SMG employees giving back to our community. Not only was it an opportunity to help others, it was also a chance for coworkers to bond outside the office and spend time with people from other departments who they don’t always get a chance to engage with. Working together to make a difference was a pretty great way to spend the day—and we’re looking forward to doing it again.
Interested in being a part of our team? We’d love to have you! Check out our current opportunities.
Kim Klosak | VP, Human Resources