It was a lovely October afternoon, and I was grateful for a good reason to leave the office and head down Market Street to one of my favorite places: Washington Irving School.
Surrounded by a group of Angie’s List member-care pros, I spent a few hours in warm sunshine and a cool breeze, thoroughly enjoying something I might complain about doing at home: weeding, cutting down overgrown bushes, mulching and planting perennials.
It was just a small part of our company’s participation in Indy Do Day, an event that gives businesses and individuals the chance to make a difference for nearby people and places. About 500 Angie’s List employees donated more than 1,500 hours, with a focus on Indianapolis’ Near Eastside, where we’re based.
A sampling of what our folks did:
- Engaged with older adults at the John H. Boner Community Center.
- Washed windows and mulched at Lutherwood Residential Treatment Center.
- Organized a clothes pantry and prepared food for clients of Outreach Hope for Homeless Youth.
- Organized a food pantry, painted, weeded and built pallet gardens for Westminster Neighborhood Ministries.
- Assessed existing smoke alarms in neighborhood homes, installing new ones when necessary.
My group worked to beautify the grounds of Washington Irving, the public school nearest our campus. It’s a place Angie’s Listers have come to know and love, as many volunteer in a variety of ways, from being Lunch Buddies to providing school supplies and uniform clothes.
I appreciate that while Indy Do Day has some structure – the organizer is Rotary Club of Indianapolis – it retains a grassroots quality. Businesses large and small can participate, as can any organization and individual, and there’s wide flexibility in what gets done.
Kelly Tingle, executive director of Rotary Club of Indianapolis, noted how friends of hers devised their own project, working with their 12-year-old sons to clear storm drains on their street: “They had a lot of fun, since it involved playing in mud.”
She hopes even more people will get on board for Indy Do Day 2016 (Sept. 29-30 and Oct. 1) and is excited that other cities have expressed interest in their own Do Days. She’s happy to offer ideas and guidance, especially to employers who assume they can’t afford to let employees donate time.
“I’m a soft-hearted individual, but it’s also about employee engagement and the health of your company,” Kelly says. “Employees who are more connected to each other and feel a sense of connection to the company and their community will stay longer. Also, people are making more business decisions based on how a company runs and if it gives back.”
She encourages businesses to include community service in their 2016 budgets. “It could be $2,000 for a project, or $500 for paint to spruce up the local park. Giving service does have a cost. But I believe there will be a higher return on the investment.”
Photo, by Brandon Smith, shows Whitney Emmert, Big Deal representative for Angie’s List, cleaning a mural at Westminster Neighborhood Services.