By Carissa Woytach, United Way of Greater Cleveland Staff Writer
To celebrate its 150-year anniversary, University Hospitals (UH) has partnered with United Way of Greater Cleveland, providing staff with opportunities to volunteer in the communities UH serves.
UH’s goal is to reach 150,000 volunteer hours by May 2017, divided among the 26,000 employed by the healthcare system. United Way of Greater Cleveland, working with UH, will provide employees with several large-scale volunteer events.
“Over the past year or so, we’ve been working with United Way to come up with a program for our employees to be able to give back to the communities in which we live and serve,” said Josh Studzinski, director of System Events and Sponsorships at UH. “It was very important for our employees to get behind something to support in our communities and be able to go out and help areas and organizations.”
Day of Action
The effort kicked off May 14 — UH’s 150th birthday — with a Day of Action focusing on literacy at several CMSD schools. Literacy Explosion, in conjunction with United Way of Greater Cleveland’s Summer Learning kickoffs, invited approximately 150 UH employees to go to five CMSD elementary schools, reading and interacting with the students there.
Danielle Wright, an Engagement Center associate, and Katie Foster, a relationship manager in Resource Development, have worked with Studzinski to create these UH-centered Days of Action.
“Working with the UH 150 project has been truly a highlight of my career thus far,” Foster said. “Working to engage such a philanthropic and generous company, not just by the dollars they give but trying to get 150,000 hours of volunteerism is inspiring and motivating.”
Outside of the Days of Action, employees are encouraged to track their personal volunteer hours with United Way of Greater Cleveland’s Get Connected website.
“So many people do so many things in their communities that we’re not tracking,” Studzinski said. “They do find time to do this stuff, so this is a way for us to hopefully collect all of that information and get a picture of all that UH employees do, beyond the work that they do at UH.”
UH has been a strong supporter of United Way of Greater Cleveland in the past, Studzinski said, making the choice to partner with them for the UH 150 campaign easy.
“We have a lot of faith in what United Way does and we have a lot of appreciation for what United Way does,” Studzinski said.
While Studzinski said this has been a culture change for UH, the feedback received so far has been positive.
“It’s been great to see the smiles out there,” he said. “And a lot of people have come back to us and said how great it was to get out in the community during the day … The employees have been jumping on board slowly but surely.”
UH 150 has four more large-scale events planned with United Way of Greater Cleveland before May 2017. The next Day of Action for the campaign is Hometown Huddle in November, where volunteers will spend the day building a playground for CMSD students.
“United Way holds a unique position in the community, working so heavily with corporations and employee bases,” Foster said. “There is the unique opportunity to engage these populations in not only philanthropic activity, but hands on volunteer projects. To be able to work with the hospital to provide employees with the opportunity to give not only of their treasure but also of their time and talent continues to strengthen the partnership between United Way and UH.”