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Corporate Social Responsibility

Translating Community Spirit Into Corporate Social Responsibility 
In spite of the blistering cold night on Friday, January 21st the creative minds from Jump Start welcomed over 70 hearty volunteers who turned out at Starbucks in Bernardsville to participate in a uniquely creative philanthropic experience. Their purpose: to support the children at Zufall Health Center (ZHC) in Dover, Jersey Battered Women's Services of Morris County and the Morris County Sexual Assault Center. 

Warmly greeted with Starbucks delectable brownies, this caring ensemble included a girl scout troop, a team of College of St. Elizabeth professors (Way to go CSE!), families as well as couples on dates! Throughout the two hour event they enthusiastically joined in taking the wide variety of creative elements supplied by Jump Start artists, fashioning them into very personal expressions of love and caring. The beautiful results yielded 40 heart-shaped fleece pillows for the ZHC children and 40 decorative journals for Teen girls recovering from abuse at the MCSAC and JBWS. 

In December 2009 our chapter hosted a fun event with Jump Start to support ten families transitioning from Homeless Solutions of Morris County. We encourage our members to seek out philanthropic outreach programs that brand their organizations as employers of choice providing a connected community spirit. Call it corporate social responsibility or simply good common business sense, employee satisfaction survey statistics are increasingly indicating employers that offer this vital community connection are preferred by job seekers. Participating in these types of activities also offer your employees great team building exercises in a personal, meaningful way (who really needs to build a fake car out of cardboard and poles?) as well as increased intrinsic satisfaction. Remember Mazlow's Hierarchy of needs? In this tenuous economic climate where offering the basis of safety at work (easy enough) and job security (a little tougher these days) can prove difficult, go for greater productivity by making that all important human connection with your employees.

So as winter begins to melt and spring approaches, let the creative side of you mesh with your strong business sense to create something special at your organization. Look to create affinity groups, host events, create alliances with community organizations that link your efforts to higher positive energy levels, increased productivity and enhanced company image. Share your results through press releases to enhance your brand and culture. It will also serve to spark other companies to join this movement toward offering a stronger human connection within our organizations. 

For those of you who might be thinking "Oh, I'm not creative" or "This is going to be hard, where do I start?" Don't be discouraged. If 70 people from diverse groups can show up on a frigid wintry Friday night when they might rather be home, nestled with their loved ones watching a movie or with a good book, then consider the possibilities for enthusiasm and support of your initiatives. Starbucks does a tremendous job of offering a comfortable environment for people to easily share their desire to be of help to others. Their Manager informed me that they host a different philanthropic focused event each month because they want to connect more directly in impacting ways with their community. With direct access for communications to poll your teams to determine what groups are important to them you have a great start. Our community partner, United Way of Morris County, also offers a plethora of volunteering opportunities for a wide variety of groups in need of assistance. 

Whether it's supporting elder care, children or women in need, transitioning homeless families or military in career transition there are many groups to resonate with your organization. For ideas and resources check out: United Way of Morris County  (ask for our contact: Carol DeGraw); Community Foundation of New Jersey; Caring Capital ; and Tip of the Arrow Foundation. And if you are looking for something to do on a Friday night, check out Starbucks in Bernardsville - they just might be hosting the right event for fun on your night out after a long work week!