BMO employees step out from behind their desks and up to the plate
November 1, 2015
There’s a difference between volunteering and being "volun-told." When individuals are told to volunteer, they can lack the enthusiasm and effort required to make a real difference.
Fortunately, many BMO employees raise their hands when provided with opportunities to go out into the community and give back. In October 2015, they arrived with pep in their step and were ready to get their hands dirty. Known as Days of Caring, enterprise-wide volunteer initiatives have been created in partnership with the United Way to offer employees a first-hand view of how donations are put to work in the community.
Throughout October 2015, Days of Caring events were held at several YMCA’s in Chicago, which enlisted the help of BMO employees on a variety of tasks.
At the South Chicago YMCA, the goal was to better the organization’s chances for passing an important upcoming inspection, which would ensure another one would not be required for three years. As a result, the non-profit organization could continue to focus on providing community members with access to its 101 apartments.
Kimberly Spraggins, the property manager for senior housing at this facility, brought BMO volunteers together to help organize four storage and maintenance units. The efforts were a success, she says: "[The center] did very well on the inspection, thanks in large part to your volunteer group helping to get the areas of concern in order."
At the Rauner Family YMCA in West Chicago, BMO staff worked to prepare the center for a Halloween event, by stuffing candy bags, creating a haunted house, filling up water balloons and making signs. Employees also came with bags of Halloween candy to donate to the party. As a result, the YMCA was able to put on a successful get-together for over 600 people in the community – and they have BMO volunteers to thank for it.
In addition to giving back to communities, volunteering gives our employees additional benefits, such as allowing them to network across department lines, strengthen team bonds and learn about one another’s abilities.
Here are just a few comments from employees who took part in Days of Caring events this October:
- "The Y was a great place to volunteer given the services they provide to their residents and the likely meager funding they have, especially for [the South Chicago] location. With a large group, we made a quick and immediate impact on the storage rooms and set them up for a good inspection with clean facilities. It was a great way to spend some time in the community through a work-sponsored event, and to meet other colleagues." – David Zwickl, Senior Advisor, Strategy & Initiatives
- "I think volunteering is very important for me personally, for my organization and for the community as a whole. In my experience, we always get the work done efficiently and early — must be that great work ethic!" – Suzanne Gawelski, Vice President Human Resources Business Partner
- "Partnering with an organization like the YMCA really allowed us to make a positive impact in the community in a real-life situation, plus it was so fun!" – Ivonne Gaus, Change Manager
- "The event was awesome and gave me the opportunity to not only help the YMCA, but also the community it serves. I was also able to meet and get to know other BMO Harris Bank colleagues that I would not have had the opportunity to meet otherwise." – Maria Ruiz, Manager of Financial Performance Management
- "It was a great day! It is so good that the bank sponsors Days of Caring. Helping the YMCA helps our communities and that is important." –Kathleen Deane, Associate General Counsel and Senior Vice President