Corporate social responsibility (CSR) means different things to different people. For some, it means improving the communities in which they live or helping feed people in need of assistance. Other people prefer to support the military and military families. At Parker Aerospace, CSR efforts include all these causes and more thanks to a variety of support efforts provided by Parker employees.
Together We Serve is the collective name given to the many initiatives that make up CSR at Parker Aerospace’s Fluid Systems Division (FSD). Parker Hannifin provides corporate support through the Parker Foundation with grant money for charitable organizations. The selected organizations are nominated by local employees, and through a review process, the site chooses the specific charities that become recipients of the grants. In addition, the local Together We Serve team identifies the charitable initiatives and determines which organizations we will offer employees opportunities to support through either volunteering their time, donating items, or giving money to purchase the necessary items for donation.
In the case of FSD in Irvine, California, the local charities selected for the first half of 2019 included projects that help feed people, care for animals, and support families.
Second Harvest is a large foodbank near Irvine, California, that serves children, senior citizens, and even entire families in need. It is open to anyone whose income falls into what’s considered below the poverty level, which includes some military families. Last year, the non-profit food agency served approximately 250,000 people in the Irvine area. The food bank depends on volunteers to sustain approximately 40 percent of its manpower.
Twenty-three Parker team members and their families (including some children) worked at the food bank during a Saturday in February of 2019.
“People on the Second Harvest team had a sense of purpose and desire to give back to their communities ... Events like Second Harvest help employees feel more engaged with Parker and help them pass compassionate values on to their children.”
— Jennifer Perez, human resources specialist at Parker FSD in Irvine, CA
Perez noted that team members came from many different roles at Parker. “We had people from engineering, quality, finance, and human resources,” she reports. She indicated that they all worked together with a different type of teamwork and energy compared to their regular workplace routines.
“It was exciting to work around the table with my husband and people I care about,” explains Perez. “It was a different experience, like a race. People were eager to sort one type of food, then ask what else we could get done for the food bank. We wanted to hit record numbers. Afterward, there were lots of high fives and we had a great lunch together.”
To get the work done, team members gathered around a large table, broke open large bulk packages of food, eliminated any rotten or expired foods, and then re-packaged the food into smaller parcels for families. Parker employees also sorted donated towels, diapers, formula, and other items based on the needs of select groups like families with small children or senior citizens living by themselves.
“When working around the table, there is an energy that is contagious,” says Perez. “Time flies, but it’s also an eye-opening experience when you reflect on the people who benefit from the work.”
In addition to Second Harvest, Parker employees volunteered for an animal care project on a Saturday this past May. FSD members came together to help a local animal shelter in need of a good spring cleaning. With lots of enthusiasm and a can-do attitude, volunteers set to work to help the Orange County (OC) Animal Care organization.
This nonprofit operates 14 shelters and takes in more than 30,000 animals annually. During the event, the team was able to tour the Irvine facility, visit the animals, and pitch in with cleaning areas of the shelter devoted to abandoned and rescued animals.
A total of 22 Parker team members visited the Irvine OC Animal Care facility. There were also a few children who volunteered with their parents. All volunteers were clearly animal lovers.
Some volunteers and staff ended up adopting animals, according to OC Animal Care’s Public Education Officer, Brittany Hayes. She indicates that quite often volunteers find animals with which they build special bonds.
“Volunteering at OC Animal Care is definitely a feel-good thing,” says Hayes. “It’s almost an indescribable feeling because you are contributing to the well-being of the animals at the shelter. Whether you’re walking a dog or helping clean a kennel, you are making that animal feel loved and giving them a better opportunity to get adopted.”
OC Animal Care often hosts children volunteering with their parents. “Getting children involved in programs not only builds self-confidence, but it teaches them empathy,” notes Hayes. “Whether they are reading to an animal or if they are making them blankets, even the smallest hands make a big difference!”
“I think all employees who volunteered for this day at OC Animal Care are genuine animal lovers,” says Janet Dunscomb, the event coordinator and a cost/price analyst specialist at FSD. “So, they were very happy to be presented with an opportunity for themselves and their family members that combined their love for animals, their desire to help the community, and a chance to meet and get together with other Parker employees on a non-workday.”
Dunscomb received very positive feedback during the event and the day after. “I think everyone was very happy they participated and happy that Parker provided this opportunity,” she explains. “For those who want to continue volunteering in the animal world, this introduced them to new potential opportunities they could pursue after the event.”
A donation drive for local children attracted a great deal of heart-felt support from Parker FSD employees in 2019. Through a multi-faceted push that included email from Parker team leaders, visible drop-off bins strategically located within Parker facilities, and an internal website devoted to registrations, Parker was able to organize 106 backpacks for South County Outreach, near Irvine, California.
The organization has a vision to end hunger and house hope in Orange County, California. Providing an innovative food pantry and transitional housing program, South County Outreach helps homeless families get back on their feet with the tools and counseling they need to succeed.
Parker employees in Irvine have also supported Easter baskets and multiple gift card giveaways for Thanksgiving dinners for military families. Other charities selected by FSD in the past have included Toys for Tots and Angel Tree.
In Irvine, the Together We Serve team has eight members, which includes Perez, who helps bring volunteer ideas to other team members and then organize the events. The CSR team members sometimes serve as a specific event “champion.” Then, anywhere from 10 to 25 additional employees may volunteer for each event that CSR team members publicize. The group of volunteers changes with each activity.
“We are trying to offer a diverse grouping of opportunities to inspire new volunteers where they might feel drawn to participate,” explains Perez. Employees have previously supported a wide variety of charities through onsite donations of food, school supplies, gifts for the elderly, and toys for children at Christmas time.
“We did not have a formal program geared to serve in the community until recently,” says Perez. “In 2018, I had the opportunity to see how another company was supportive within the community through “serve” events. Ever since then, I have been working with a team here in Irvine to target those types of activities.”
Perez also believes that CSR initiatives like Together We Serve helps Parker attract better employees because today many individuals are looking for more than just a job. They want a sense of purpose. CSR initiatives allow for a better balance of purpose in an employee’s work/life balance. “There is definitely a level of personal satisfaction,” says Perez.
“I know the employees on the team feel a deeper sense of purpose when they can be involved in the team and CSR events, especially if it is one to which they are naturally drawn.”
— Jennifer Perez, human resources specialist
at Parker FSD in Irvine, CA
Perez added that for her, and for most of those who volunteer, the smiles at the end of an event truly reflect joy in the opportunities to give back in some way. “It's two-sided,” she adds. “To the person receiving support, and to the person offering support, it fills the heart to give or receive.”
This post was contributed by FSD’s Together We Serve team.