Each year, OneAmerica® hosts a Week of Caring, connecting its employees to volunteer opportunities at United Way of Central Indiana partner agencies throughout Central Indiana. This year, they shared in the excitement about United Way’s 100th anniversary with the help of over 700 employees and one pair of special gloves. Jen Pittman, assistant vice president for community affairs at OneAmerica, shares their story.
What we love about United Way of Central Indiana’s special commemorative gloves, distributed in summer 2017 to businesses and celebrities to celebrate its 100th anniversary, is they weren’t just a flimsy prop to be cast aside after their marketing campaign conclusion.
OneAmerica received a pair of the blue-and-white gloves in late August, and we immediately made plans to put them to use as part of our company’s unique Week of Caring, an annual September event that connects over 700 of our associates to United Way agencies. Our associates contributed more than 2,000 hours during Week of Caring Sept. 5-8, and because the labor is truly hands-on, the gloves were a perfect way for us to showcase how our associates willingly do the behind-the-scenes work that is so vital to nonprofits in our home city. We would never have known which of these worthy organizations needed the assistance without the help of United Way, so it was an easy decision to mix #UWCI100 into our plan.
At first, the public relations team treated our commemorative pair with, uh, kid gloves. As you can tell from the photo (which is paired with the green shirt that has the United Way logo) the gloves came out of the plastic sleeve factory fresh.
Jake Hudson, the first of our associates to be photographed wearing them at Gleaners (on Monday, Sept. 5) had perhaps the cleanest experience as he put them on for a symbolic photo that we took and shared on our social media channels. He moved some food boxes in a hand-cart and then took them off. By the time we had finished using them on Sept. 8, they had morphed to a slightly dingier mode.
“I’ve never had to worry about having enough food or had concerns of where my next meal would come from, so it is hard to put myself in the position of the people that Gleaners helps. Seeing the video interviews from individuals and families that benefit from Gleaners helped put a face to what we were doing and made it more than just packing food in a warehouse,” Jake said.
The gloves helped support our storytelling on @oneamerica social channels, and after Week of Caring had been completed, we turned “inward” to help use them as part of our associates-only pledge drive for 2018 United Way fundraising.
For example, Christopher Lee, an associate in our retirement services contact center, volunteered at Concord Neighborhood Center. Christopher credits Concord with helping steer him toward success in the mid-1990s when he frequented the center as an at-risk youth. You can read Chris’ story on the OneAmerica special 140th anniversary website.
Tom Spalding, our media relations specialist, knew there were a lot of stories like Christopher’s throughout our 2,000-employee organization, so he came up with the idea to take the gloves on the road. Each of the eight volunteer locations in Indianapolis got the gloves, which included Gleaners Food Bank, Outreach Indiana, United Way of Central Indiana, Concord Neighborhood Center, St. Mary’s Child Center, The John H. Boner Community Center, Horizon House and TherAplay. Spalding said the gloves were a crucial component to success.
Well, many people don’t know, but our company has enjoyed a legacy of community engagement throughout our 140-year history. In recent years, OneAmerica has contributed more than $25 million to local nonprofits, but our community investment extends far beyond corporate giving. OneAmerica associates throughout our entire organization routinely donate their time and talents in service to others.
OneAmerica became the first organization in Central Indiana to devote an entire week to volunteer activities with Week of Caring in 2014, and each year we keep setting new records in terms of employee participation. OneAmerica associate Lyndsey Hanna, shown here at TherAplay in Carmel during Week of Caring, volunteers every year and picks a new location so she can understand the full range of challenges in the nonprofit world.)
Because it’s not one just day of activity, but FOUR full days with multiple shifts running daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., it’s important to keep energy levels high. The gloves were a key way to do that!
The gloves have temporarily been retired from physical activity, but they remain on standby at OneAmerica. We’ve already twice loaned them to other departments for in-house presentations, because this little pair of gloves is such a powerful illustration of our company’s commitment to civic causes.