Community spirit and civic leadership make Aetna’s High Point, NC office a rewarding workplace. Through events organized by its active Aetna Volunteer Council, it has brought hope and help to battered women, senior citizens, cancer patients and countless others. In recent years, employees have biked, donated cell phones, made beautiful blankets, and performed countless other caring acts. In 2004, they organized a weeklong program honoring Dr. Charles R. Drew, an African American physician who broke new ground in blood collection and plasma processing. Besides galvanizing the office and bringing community attention to blood donation, especially in the African American community, the program generated 162 pints of blood from community drives.
High Point employees donated an impressive 1,700 hours to group employee events in 2004. The office represents three percent of Aetna employees, yet it accounts for 13 percent of Aetna’s group volunteer hours. High Point employees also donated more than 200 pints of blood, or five times more blood per capita than the average American.
“Once you volunteer, you’re hooked,” says Kathy Matthews, a member of the volunteer council. “It puts a positive face on Aetna in the community, but also I think it gives employees a sense of pride and accomplishment, something to remember in their work with our customers and fellow employees.” In recent years, community groups have recognized the office’s contributions. In April 2005, Project Linus – a nonprofit that makes handmade blankets and quilts and distributes them to children in need – presented the High Point office with an award for corporate citizenship. Thanks to the Council’s impressive volunteer record and the Aetna Foundation’s Community Grants Program, Aetna also has been recognized by the Corporate Volunteer Connection of Greensboro as the number one company in the area for its employee volunteerism commitment
In 2003, the American Cancer Society named the office a local “Team of the Year” for its fundraising, creativity and enthusiasm in the annual Relay for Life. It was selected from more than 5,500 teams in the region. Organizers involved the entire workplace, raising $36,790 with management challenges, “dress down” days, giveaways, walker sponsor donations and a walker autograph signing party. “Every day we help customers whose lives have been touched by cancer, and it’s a privilege to do whatever we can do to help battle this disease,” said Donna Murray, who chaired survivor activities.
Many employees also volunteer on the cancer society’s event planning committees and chair some events, including an Easter care basket project for patients at a local cancer center. Our goal was to provide baskets to the patients confined at the center,” said Murray. “We had such an outpouring of generosity that we were able to supply baskets to all confined patients and deliver an additional 28 baskets for outpatients.”
The desire to help others can be explained simply, according to Angela Wall, who co-chairs the local Aetna Volunteer Council: “I love to serve. I love to help someone else.”