Partnering with C3i Solutions, StayWell employees recently visited El Paso to volunteer and donate to three local nonprofit organizations

By Robert Jones, Chief Financial Officer, and Darrin Ferrell, Telesales Director

Some of our biggest daily responsibilities at StayWell include the best ways to spend our time and money, as well as managing print programs to ensure we optimize resources effectively. Time and time again, we are struck by the immense return that is gained from spending time giving to others.

A growing body of research shows that volunteering provides both mental and physical well-being benefits. At StayWell, we are given time off to volunteer and enjoying giving back in a variety of ways, including serving as a CASA (court appointed special advocate) for abused and neglected children, and volunteering at the PAL (Police Athletic League) as a coach, tutor, and mentor to youth in the community. What better way to strengthen ties among co-workers than by teaming up to give back?

We recently headed to El Paso, Texas, for a volunteer event with our partners from C3i Solutions, a customer engagement services provider. While we have worked together since 2017, we have not had the opportunity to get together because our teams are in different parts of the country. Meeting in person for a team event was high on our priority list this year.

Together with C3i—and joined by our El Paso-based colleague Erika Rameriz, a StayWell health coach—it was our pleasure to donate resources and time to three nonprofit organizations in the local community, as selected by our team in El Paso: The Annunciation House, the Valley Community Food Pantry, and Make-A-Wish North Texas.

Annunciation House

Annunciation House, Volunteer Post

From left to right: Fernando Guiterrez, C3i; Robert Jones, StayWell; Ricardo Velarde, C3i; Ruben Garcia, Annunciation House; Erika Ramirez, StayWell; and Darrin Ferrell, StayWell.

The Annunciation House, a modest place that has sheltered migrants for 40 years, was our first stop. Director Ruben Garcia—whose work was featured recently in The Washington Post—met with us to accept a $2,000 donation and explain his life’s work: sheltering those who have crossed and been processed at the U.S. border, and have subsequently been released into the U.S. as they await paperwork processing and next steps. Garcia’s volunteer network and private donations enable the Annunciation House to connect migrants with U.S.-based family, including arranging transportation.

It’s difficult to overstate the current impact at the border and its effect on El Paso. During our time at the Annunciation House, we witnessed a man reunited with his son after 10 months of being apart, the site manager trying to arrange urgent health care for an infant, and a volunteer network assembling meals in the kitchen. Preparations were also underway in anticipation of more than 600 people being released to the Annunciation House the following day.

It was an incredibly impactful experience to see the real effects of border family situations, and people fleeing from conditions in Central American countries.

Valley Community Food Pantry

Valley Pantry 1, Volunteer Post

In route to our next stop, the Valley Community Food Pantry, we were able to see people being processed at the U.S.-Mexico border. For the past 15 years, the pantry has partnered with several local agencies to provide groceries to more than 10,000 people in need. The pantry has also developed other programs designed to help community members, including:

  • Fresh Start Garden: Ensures fresh produce is included with grocery bags of food, and offers to teach people how to grow their own vegetables and herbs
  • Food Pantry On The Go: Delivers groceries directly to those that may have difficulty getting to the pantry’s physical location (elderly, low income families, veterans, etc.)
  • Fresh Start Closet: Provides proper attire to those that need clothes for work or job interviews
  • Fresh Start to Success: Works one-on-one with people to show how to navigate work-related sites and fill out job applications

Our team volunteered by picking fruits and vegetables, assembling ready-to-go bags of groceries, and cleaning up the space (pulling weeds, tending to plants, watering, organizing clothing, etc.). We also donated $5,000 to Mary Barron. We were not only able to bond in a different environment as a team, but it was a great opportunity to help the community and make a direct impact on people’s lives.

Valley Pantry 3, Volunteer Post

Valley Pantry 2, Volunteer Post

Make-A-Wish North Texas

Make A Wish, Volunteer Post

From left to right: Ricardo Velarde, C3i; Darrin Ferrell, StayWell; Stephanie Gorman, Make-A-Wish; Lilly Herrera, C3i; Erika Ramirez, StayWell; Robert Jones, StayWell; and Fernando Guiterrez, C3i.

Our final stop was Make-A-Wish North Texas, which serves communities within 161 Texas counties. Since 1982, the organization has granted more than 10,000 life-changing wishes to children with critical illnesses. Make-A-Wish North Texas granted a record 677 wishes to children in 2017 and is currently working with 65 children to get their wish granted this year. Wishes that are fulfilled represent a unique collaboration between families, medical professionals, volunteers, and donors.

We presented a donation of $3,000 to help Make-A-Wish continue to make these dreams come true. We also visited with Stephanie Gorman, who filled us in on the chapter’s plans and goals for the 2019 Walk for Wishes. One thing that struck us from the visit was the wide range of wishes the children have, including one child that simply wished for a toy truck.

This was a trip that StayWell’s and C3i’s team members won’t soon forget. Interested in learning more about the benefits of volunteering? Check out this article to learn how it can impact employees and how to pick a project that’s right for your organization.