01 Oct Blue Cross holds Service Week, volunteers with Support the Soupman
Original Post | Bridgewater Wicked Local Posted Sep 30, 2020 at 10:58 AM
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Inc., or Blue Cross, recently held Service Week, the company’s 10th annual company-wide volunteer event.
From Sept. 21 to 25, 2,700 Blue Cross employees volunteered for 65 virtual and in-person service projects supporting 70 nonprofits across Massachusetts, including Bridgewater-based Support the Soupman.
Blue Cross employees and their families spent the day decorating brown bags used to distribute meals to the homeless with colorful, positive messages of hope. Volunteers also assembled travel size hygiene kids with notecards to distribute alongside the meals. Support the Soupman is a grassroots campaign to help relieve the pain and suffering of community members who are homeless.
This year’s service event was reinvented to respond to the twin crises of COVID-19 and racial inequities, with an emphasis on employee education and engagement. It also was extended to a week, rather than the traditional day of activities.
“The events of 2020 have spotlighted the health inequities affecting our communities,” said Andrew Dreyfus, president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. “We are excited to expand our Service Day into a week-long opportunity for our employees to not only serve our communities, but also to learn more about systemic barriers to health and the solutions that can move us forward.”
Most of the company participated in educational sessions featuring cross-sector leaders from nonprofit, healthcare and civic organizations focused on promoting health equity. Panelists include David Waters, executive director of Community Servings; Dr. Aaron Bernstein, interim director for Harvard Chan School of Public Health’s Center for Climate Health and the Global Environment; Dr. Thea James, associate chief medical officer at Boston Medical Center; and Rosario Ubiera-Minaya, executive director of Amplify Latinx.
Approximately 2,400 employees also participated in remote projects from their homes, including making birthday banners to lift the spirits of children in the hospital, writing letters to isolated seniors and making blankets to donate to community members facing mental health challenges, depression and substance abuse.
More than 300 employees volunteered in person, practicing strict safety protocols, at nonprofits including the Greater Boston Food Bank, Joined Forces in Chicopee and the Urban Farming Institute in Mattapan.
Blue Cross is providing a grant for materials or a speaking honorarium to each participating nonprofit to support their mission, for a total contribution of $775,000 in grants and volunteer hours during Service Week. Since its inception in 2011, Blue Cross has made more than $9.2 million in community contributions on the annual volunteer day.
To address COVID-19 and health inequities, Blue Cross and its Foundation also have committed $10.6 million in financial support, pro-bono and in-kind support, including $1 million to The New Commonwealth Racial Equity and Social Justice Fund. To view highlights, visit https://bluecrossma.org/we-are-mighty-mass.
To learn more about Blue Cross’ commitment to improving the health of Massachusetts residents, visit https://aboutus.bluecrossma.com/corporate-citizenship. To read the 2019 Corporate Citizenship Report, visit https://bit.ly/3n6g8jm.