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How Volunteerism Leads to Stronger Teams, Better Days

The power of a large operation, and the impact it can have on the community, really hit me when I lived in India. Here, I led a team of 1,000 people. I knew that we could make a big difference, and we swung for the fences. To kick off, I sponsored an officewide day of service. On that day, everyone worked together to renovate a local school, from top to bottom, inside and out. We painted classrooms, installed new desks, planted trees…a full overhaul. We logged more than 10,000 volunteer hours that day.

The excitement from the students and their teachers was overwhelming. There were kids everywhere, racing through the building to check out their new classrooms, claiming desks and testing out the new slides and swings on the playground. Nearly as satisfying was seeing my team’s sense of achievement and generosity.

Ever since, I have made giving back a priority in my personal and professional lives. In the Rudderham house, my three boys and I volunteer together every holiday and get involved in local community projects throughout the year.

Fortunately, I found a similar passion for making a difference when I joined Kellogg in November 2016. Our founder, W.K. Kellogg, was an early philanthropist and believer in making a social impact. His legacy lives on as employees around the world and from every team continue to give their time and talents to various causes.

As Vice President of Global Business Services (GBS), I agreed with my team to formally commit to service as part of our 2017 priorities. Every GBS employee’s PDP includes a goal to complete at least eight hours of volunteering. It’s a small commitment at the individual level, but the collective impact will be huge.

Volunteerism has always been part of Kellogg’s culture.  Recently through Kellogg’s global signature cause platform, Breakfasts for Better Days, the company committed to 45,000 volunteer days by Kellogg employees. We’ll do this at local community food banks, community food banks, urban farms and school breakfast programs. It’s one of the many ways the company is aiming to achieve 3 billion Better Days for people worldwide.

How our team contributes to Better Days

Instead of organizing just a few big outings, we are volunteering throughout the year, hosting events each quarter and encouraging small group activities. So far, our employees have contributed to a variety of programs.

  • In the U.S., we are packing food for the Food Bank of South Central Michigan, building houses for Habitat for Humanity, reading to elementary students at afterschool programs and working with a half dozen other local organizations.

  • In Bucharest, Romania, GBS serves breakfast and trains locals on leadership skills.

  • In Mexico, we recently harvested amaranth at a local smallholder farm. Amaranth, by the way, is an ancient grain that Kellogg uses in many of its foods.

How you can help

Start small – rally a few colleagues to volunteer for a few hours. And then repeat! As with all volunteer activities taking place globally by Kellogg employees, the GBS team is tracking our volunteer hours, so that we can hold each other accountable. My leadership team reviews our progress each month.

A side benefit of these projects is that they are great team-builders. Coming together to achieve a common goal, like felting a roof, painting a room or mulching a yard, breaks down barriers and builds trust. And our teams are even stronger when they return to the office.

Kellogg is making a difference in our communities around the world, every day. I hope you will join us.