March 19, 2013 — Coral Gables — The boxes had been sitting dormant in the warehouse at His House Children’s Home for days before a group of University of Miami employees arrived one Friday to begin sorting the contents—much-needed donations of books, clothes, furniture, and toys for the abused and neglected youngsters who live at the residence.
Employees carefully arranged items by category and placed them neatly on shelves, transforming the warehouse into a storeroom for the families that would show up over the weekend to buy goods at greatly reduced prices.
The effort was all part of Solutions Service Day, a community service project developed by UM’s Business and Finance Division aimed at teaching its employees valuable lessons about team building while benefiting a worthwhile cause at the same time.
Some 48 employees from 15 different Business and Finance departments participated in the warehouse cleanup at His House, interacting with some of the children who call the nonprofit, faith-based organization home.
“The brief interaction with the children [and] witnessing firsthand how our presence made a difference in their day” is how instructional designer Fredricka Williams described what she enjoyed most about the service day.
The service day also included a surprise visit by UM’s mascot, Sebastian the Ibis. “Those 30 seconds were worth everything,” said Larry Marbert, vice president for real estate and facilities, commenting on the youngsters’ reaction to Sebastian.
The community service activity was part of the broader Solutions Pilot Program, an initiative in which Business and Finance employees meet in teams for six months to address and pose remedies to specific University-wide issues.
“We’re looking at the results of the pilot and investigating ways to expand its reach,” said Charisse Lopez-Mason, executive director of Workforce Engagement and Development, a UM Human Resources component that oversees the Solutions Pilot Program, which was launched in response to a staff survey.
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