Area organizations help others and build community by volunteering as a group
Of the nearly 1,500 people who volunteer at the Haven in an average year, half come as groups through area organizations. “Most often, groups do one-time work we couldn’t otherwise do—whether it’s painting, grounds cleanup, or sorting a large amount of donated goods,” says Amber Johnston, Director of Community Education & Volunteer services. These include area high schools, Dartmouth College teams and departments, as well as businesses like Pitney Bowes, King Arthur Baking, and Hypertherm.
Stacey Chiocchio, Community Citizenship Manager at Hypertherm, explains the company’s involvement this way. “We are 100% employee-owned,” she says of the Hanover-based manufacturer of industrial cutting solutions. “We look at the triple bottom line: people, planet, profits.” Each employee has 32 paid hours annually to volunteer and an amazing 87% participate.
“Hypertherm needs nonprofits, and nonprofits like the Haven need businesses,” Stacey continues, “we support the needs that nonprofits have, and they support our need to have employees volunteer.” Teams of Hypertherm employees make dinner for guests at Hixon House twice a month. In November and December—the busiest months for the Food Shelf—five or six Hypertherm associates serve each day as “holiday helpers.” “They’ll sort donations, stock shelves, whatever needs doing,” she says. “Some people enjoy it so much that they’ll save their volunteer hours to use during the holidays.”
Stacey appreciates the Haven’s flexibility in accommodating employees. “We have third-shift employees who want to volunteer. They have been able to go to the Haven in the overnight hours and paint. I think we’ve painted every wall at the Haven at least once!”
That flexibility goes both ways: when Food Shelf visitors began to have to wait outside because of COVID-19, the Haven called Hypertherm. “They asked if our engineers could build some kind of shelter,” says Stacey. “And we did. It looks like a wooden bus shelter, just outside of the Haven’s doors.”
“It’s great to know there are so many community-minded organizations that are working to improve the Upper Valley,” Amber explains. “We appreciate the work of these groups so much. To me, it says that we’re all in this together: Helping people in poverty isn’t just the Haven’s responsibility, it’s also the responsibility of the community. These are very special partnerships.”