Will Love begins his day surrounded by clothing and shoes. One by one, he arranges the items by size – suit jackets to the left, button-down shirts to the right – and organizes the previously cluttered space. But Will isn’t in the stockroom of a high-end department store. He and dozens of his EY colleagues are in the Student Clothes Closet at Focus: HOPE giving back.
This year marks the eighth time Will—an assurance senior manager — has participated in EY’s company-wide day of service—known as Connect Day. His experiences have ranged from reading to children and planting trees to painting lockers and more, but this particular experience stands out.
“Organizing clothes seems like something so simple,” Will said. “But when you think about what you’re providing – clothing to someone who wants to get a job – a program like this is phenomenal.”
Most days, EY is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. But on EY Connect Day—held each year in October—the company’s mission is to give back to the community. The one-day volunteer program has been reinforcing the organization’s commitment to “building a better working world” since 2010.
This year, 23,000 EY employees across America gave their day as volunteers on Oct. 5’s Connect Day.
EY’s Detroit staff logged 1,300 volunteer hours at sites across Southeast Michigan during EY Connect Day. This included several projects organized by United Way for Southeastern Michigan. Through our volunteer work, we connect corporate partners like EY with volunteer opportunities that match their needs—from small-scale projects to full days of service.
David Sanders, Global Coordinating Partner EY Global Automotive & Transportation Advisory Leader, spent the day helping out at Southwest Solutions.
For David, who’s a member of United Way’s Campaign Cabinet, the mission is both professional and personal.
“I’ve seen the impact. I’ve lived the impact,” he said. Twenty-five years ago, a birth-related accident left his daughter disabled and his family turned to the United Way for help. “They helped us connect with a lot of help we wouldn’t have been able to find otherwise.”
Now at EY, where he’s responsible for engagement with the local community, David has an opportunity to help others.
“EY Connect Day is just one example of our commitment to give back to the communities where we live and work,” he said.
The Student Clothes Closet, which is stocked with donated clothing, is just one of a variety of areas the 85 EY volunteers at Focus: HOPE were able to experience.
Some chose to pack boxes of food while others helped seniors shop for food items. Jamey Messer, a senior manager at EY, acts as a project manager for EY Connect Day. He starts planning early to ensure there are a wide array of organizations and activities available for the local office’s 450 volunteers. United Way is a key partner helping identify volunteer opportunities.
According to Jamey, Focus: HOPE is a natural fit with the EY mission and initiatives. This includes those that involve entrepreneurship, education, and equity in the workplace.
Jordan Godlewski chose to help out with Focus HOPE’s Early Head Start Program where she quickly found herself surrounded by toddlers eager for attention from a friendly new face.
“In past years, I’ve mostly packed boxes of food so I intentionally chose something different this year,” she said. “That’s been a great way to help but this allows you to look directly in their little faces and see the immediate difference you’re making.”
Khristi Miller, a manager at Focus: HOPE, leads the volunteer and community outreach efforts. She gives each group a bit of background on Focus: HOPE and discusses the importance of the work they’re doing. “We couldn’t do it without you,” she says to the employees from EY. And she means it. From delivering food to helping people find gainful employment, the organization serves tens of thousands of people each month.
“We need a lot of volunteers,” said Khristi.
As Will sorts clothes – chatting with his colleagues about what area to tackle next – he smiles. A look of satisfaction spreads across his face as he realizes the work he’s doing can eliminate a barrier between a job candidate and a job.
“When I was interviewing for my first job, my parents bought my suit,” he said. “Here, you realize not everyone has that, but you can step in and help them take the next step. That’s pretty cool.”
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