CONNECTING WITH COMMUNITY: Volunteers from Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island help the Thundermist Health Center in West Warwick build a garden.
COURTESY DT PHOTOGRAPHY/BLUE CROSS & BLUE SHIELD OF RHODE ISLAND
By Patricia Daddona PBN Staff Writer
Byron Allgood, a shipping coordinator at Collette for 24 years, volunteers up to 20 hours a month mentoring an 11-year-old boy at the Pawtucket Boys & Girls Club, and for four of those hours he is paid by Collette as if he were working.
“It’s great,” Allgood said of the mentoring he does and his company’s support of it. “I’m such a better person because of him, he’s such a bright kid who was kind of shy until he got into the program. It’s very beneficial for both of us. The idea they give us the time off to do that – it’s not just me; a lot of people are doing it – it’s a wonderful thing. I’m grateful for the opportunity.”
Allgood’s paid time off is part of a Collette program allowing four paid hours of community service a month to employees as long as the volunteer work is in keeping with the mission of the company’s Collette Cares philanthropy program and focuses on basic needs like homelessness or hunger or youth initiatives, said Lynne Kelly, Collette’s community relations manager.
Collette is just one of a variety of companies in Rhode Island and around the country offering increasingly popular paid release-time programs to employees who volunteer in the community.
According to the CECP (previously known as the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy), a coalition of CEOs who consider societal improvement an essential measure of business performance, the percentage of companies offering paid release-time volunteer programs increased from 53 percent in 2007 to 70 percent in 2012, the most recent year data was available. The information is from CECP’s study, “Giving In Numbers: 2013 Edition.”
Margaret Coady, the CECP’s executive director, said the millennial generation is actively seeking this perk, while employers are finding it supports retention. Also known as Generation Y, millenials are typically considered those born between 1980 and 2000.