What happens when thousands of passionate individuals and companies come together to lend their volunteer services, unique skills, and good old-fashioned hands-on labor to good causes across an entire city?
Answer: All those helping hands build an incredible sense of community.
TheeDesign has been part of Raleigh for thirteen years, and I’m proud my fellow employees are more than just web designers and digital marketers. We are musicians, writers, and artists at local festivals and events–part of the fabric of Raleigh’s culture. So when the opportunity to go help bolster our city for Activate Good’s 9/11 Day of Service, we formed a task force and joined in!
The Challenge: From Web Designers to Bench Designers
Our team signed up to build outdoor recreation and enrichment areas for Families Together, a non-profit that provides transitional housing and services for families stepping out of homelessness. From their colorful playground and large community garden, we knew many volunteers had helped them in the past. In fact, Meghan Olesen, Community Engagement Coordinator for Families Together, explained their playground had been a $90,000 in-kind donation in parts and labor.
Volunteers are the reason non-profits can afford to provide high-quality services.
Teambuilding Through Volunteering
When approaching the task of building wooden benches from the ground up, many of our more tech-savvy teammates weren’t sure how to begin. Surprisingly, it turned out we had experts on our team! Ryan and Sharon, both digital marketing specialists, and Mandi, a graphic and web designer, stepped up with their carpentry skills! They managed tasks accordingly — and taught their teammates the basic principles of constructing benches and cubbies.
Taking on new challenges not typically presented in our daily office life allowed co-workers to show unexpected strengths and work together in a new dynamic.
Co-workers taught each other new skills, while using teamwork to complete a tangible, feel-good task — we laughed and talked and learned about each other on a beautiful Autumn day. A couple of children who lived there took special interest in our work and brought us fresh cherry tomatoes from their garden.
Activate Good utilized an impressive social media strategy, having volunteer Social Media Ambassadors visit multiple sites and broadcast a live stream, showing all the different inspiring perspectives and stories happening across the Triangle. I played to my volunteer strengths as well and took on the role of ambassador, Live Broadcasting from TheeDesign’s Facebook channel, then directly from Activate Good’s. Back in TheeOffice, colleagues who couldn’t attend got to watch me learning to use power tools for the first time.
And hopefully across Raleigh, people watching learned about Families Together and the many, many ways they could volunteer, too!
And when we were finished, we had this:
Seeing the Impact in the Raleigh Community
Not all volunteers get the satisfaction of immediately seeing the fruits of their labors. We were very lucky to see the children who lived in these transitional homes getting off their school bus, admiring the fine craftsmanship (ha!), and excitedly buzzing about the new benches and cubbies. We even saw two smiling girls sitting on their new bench.
You might ask: Does a bench really make an impact? The answer is a resounding YES!
Because it’s more than just a bench.
- It’s watching people come to their home and work hard to make something for them, showing them how much their city cares about them.
- It’s providing positive interaction with the kids there, letting them sandpaper a few blocks of wood, and talking to them about their garden, about their favorite subject in school, and life.
- It’s building an outdoor enrichment area where parents and kids have the opportunity to interact and learn together. That may not sound like much, but when struggling through transitioning out of homelessness, it’s vital to provide every positive opportunity you can.
Building Raleigh’s Culture, One Website at a Time
When I first started at TheeDesign, I was excited to be part of the Raleigh culture by helping so many local businesses build their web presence. On Activate Good’s 9/11 Day of Service, I was happy to get out in the city alongside companies from around the Triangle and see just how much good we could all accomplish when we work together.
Let’s all keep making our city awesome. With teamwork.