Lending helping hands to the Hartford community
Hands on Hartford is a nonprofit organization that serves Hartford, Connecticut’s neediest residents in the areas of food, housing and economic security. Priya Kalyanam, Project Leader, came to know Hands on Hartford from a colleague and volunteered once a month to serve meals at Hands on Hartford’s Manna facility. “We volunteered during our lunch hour. As a result, we were able to learn more about the various programs Hands on Hartford sponsors.”
Initially, a handful of employees served lunch at the Manna program in Hartford each month, but over time, XL Catlin’s involvement with Hands on Hartford has grown. After the economic downturn in 2008, programs were being trimmed because of diminishing charitable contributions. At the same time, the need for services was steadily increasing. The Hartford office stepped in by volunteering with the lunch program year round, as well as organizing monetary donations and food drives for the various programs.
As part of last year’s Global Day of Giving the Hartford team volunteered at the Community Pantry & Backpack Nutrition Program Facility. Backpack Nutrition Program provides weekend meals for elementary school students in Hartford. XL Catlin donated nearly 300 pounds of food for the program. A few of the volunteers weighed food items, stocked the pantry and assisted customers who came to shop for groceries. Another group of volunteers helped stuff the backpacks with weekend meals. Everyone took turns painting flower pots that were to be distributed to school children to grow plants.
In the afternoon, the volunteer team headed to Peter’s Retreat, a supportive housing facility for individuals and families, including many with HIV/AIDS. The volunteers cleaned the facility and then interacted with the residents over a game of Bingo.
According to Priya, “although altruism might be an ideal in itself, a concentrated volunteerism through the Global Day of Giving brings goodwill into the community for companies like XL Catlin. Employees that volunteer derive manifold benefits, in an environment that allows us to spend time together outside work in a meaningful way. The Global Day of Giving actually encourages us to contribute more time for social activism.” Priya’s mission is to provide XL Catlin’s volunteers a meaningful and well-organized project in the hopes that they will continue to extend support in whatever way they can for the charity after participating in the Global Day of Giving.