Spreading Holiday Joy to Veterans and Active-Duty Military Through Service
The 2016 GE Global Month of Service connects employees worldwide around a commitment to serve, with thousands of GE employees volunteering their time and talent to build stronger communities where they live and work. This month of service, in partnership with Points of Light, demonstrates the power that individuals have to impact their communities.
With the holidays fast approaching, individuals and organizations alike are looking for ways to give back and support those in need. This year, to bring holiday cheer to hospitalized veterans, GE volunteers in Milwaukee came together for the second year in a row to decorate the Clement J. Zablocki Veterans Medical Center.
Veterans receiving treatment at the Zablocki Medical Center, a regional VA hospital, come from as far away as Hawaii. For many families with loved ones in long-term care, it’s difficult to stay in Milwaukee due to the costs associated with travel and housing. As a result, many of these veterans will be alone during the holiday season.
On Dec. 2, more than 100 GE volunteers decorated the entire hospital for the holidays, visited with patients and distributed more than 500 stockings stuffed with healthy snacks. While the decorations brought holiday cheer to the hospital, the volunteers’ primary purpose was to offer hope and let the veterans know they are not alone.
“Veterans hold a very special place [at] GE. Over 10,000 veterans work across [GE] and over 2,000 within our GE Healthcare business. This event is one of many that GE volunteers lead to celebrate our veterans during the holidays and recognize their devotion and commitment to our country,” said Rob Reilly, vice president and general manager of U.S. and Canada services for GE, who co-sponsored the event with Laura O’Donnell, vice president and general counsel for GE Healthcare.
In addition to the Zablocki Medical Center project, GE hosted several military care packaging projects throughout its Global Month of Service to benefit deployed service members. Five projects in Lynn, Massachusetts; Peebles, Ohio; Evandale, Ohio; Dayton, Ohio; and Milwaukee engaged 142 volunteers in 496 hours of service, packing more than 720 care packages.
“These care packages mean so much to the military [members] that receive them! For some it means a chance to brush their teeth or take a shower — some of the little things that we may take for granted each day,” said Penny Louf, the project lead with GE Aviation in Lynn.
Each care package contained nearly 30 items, including socks, toiletries, cookies and padded shoe inserts. Some of the items were included by special request from GE volunteer leads who had served — items that the leads themselves had missed while deployed.
GE sends the care packages directly to the troops using a running list of APO addresses – the GE veterans’ network sites maintain lists of deployed GE employees, friends and family of employees, and others through word of mouth. This enables some GE locations, like Lynn, to host care package events throughout the year, with employees donating most of the goods.
These projects are just some of the ways that GE volunteers are giving back to communities around the world during the company’s Global Month of Service. Through this work, GE employees are demonstrating the true impact that individuals can make when they volunteer their time and talent to improve their communities.