December 19, 2018

Volunteer spotlight: Federal Reserve Bank makes a commitment to giving back

volunteers at soup kitchen

Employees from the Detroit Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago volunteer with United Way at Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries.

Volunteering can be addictive. Just ask Wendy Brock.

Wendy, a cash operations specialist with Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Detroit Branch, began volunteering with her fellow employees when she came on board 12 years ago. Since that time, she has seldom missed an opportunity to give back.

“It’s like a race to sign up for each volunteer event before it fills up,” she said. “That’s how passionate we are.”

The Detroit location, which is a branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, partners with the United Way for Southeastern Michigan to identify opportunities for staff to give back. We work with organizations like the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago to connect them to meaningful volunteer work around Education, Economic Prosperity and Health – the key elements of thriving communities.

Over the past year, the Chicago Fed’s Detroit Branch employees have given more than 100 hours of time helping people through events at Focus: HOPE, Forgotten Harvest, Neighborhood Service Organization (NSO), Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM) and more.

volunteers at soup kitchen

Partnering with United Way

In the past month, teams of volunteers from the Chicago Fed’s Detroit Branch worked with United Way to volunteer with several of our partners. They visited HAVEN to assist with their gift giveaway for domestic violence and sexual assault survivors and their families; packed boxes at Focus: HOPE and served lunch at DRMM.

The experience at DRMM’s shelter left a lasting impression on Wendy, who has always lived by the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover.”

While volunteering, Wendy started talking to one of the cooks and found out he was a resident at the shelter. She learned that he had recently become unemployed following the death of his wife. Despite that, he still takes the time to give back by working in the kitchen.

“If he can still be thinking about helping others—and doing it with a smile, despite his situation—there’s no excuse for me or anyone else not to do the same,” Wendy said.

volunteers at soup kitchen

Deepening employee connections

The Chicago Fed is committed to serving the needs of neighbors in the district. So it’s no surprise giving back is an important part of the employee experience.

According to Detroit Branch Office Manager Theresa Chiang, the benefits of volunteering as a team cannot be understated.

“It helps break down silos when you see people in a different light outside of the office,” Theresa said. “When you can align your personal values with corporate values, you feel more connected. That does wonders for employee engagement.”

Theresa shared that she’s also been on the receiving end of assistance after losing homes to fire and flood. “Being able to return the favor is a humbling experience,” she added.

A year-round commitment

Volunteer participation generally increases around the holidays when messages around giving abound. However, at United Way, we strive to foster a culture of year-round giving in Southeastern Michigan. Through our Seasons of Giving initiative, we work to connect individuals, groups and corporate partners with volunteer opportunities in any season.

Likewise, the Chicago Fed’s Detroit Branch volunteer council, which Theresa leads, works to ensure momentum continues throughout the year.

She works with United Way’s volunteer engagement team to identify opportunities for her group to make the biggest impact. The team helps to keep her organized, brainstorm new ideas and track feedback from employees.

“It’s always a good time when you’re doing a good thing,” Theresa said.

Visit our Volunteer Portal for opportunities to get involved and make a difference.