Working With Purpose Building Volunteerism Into the Culture

The Hill at Whitemarsh is a community-based continuing care retirement community (CCRC) and from its inception has partnered with the greater community in order to enhance the quality of life for all.

It’s this spirit of community involvement that ultimately led leadership at The Hill to launch a program that built in paid time off for employees to use toward volunteer work.

“Across the organization, all employees who have been with us one year or longer get volunteer time off, or VTO, to use throughout the year,” said Nicole Bennett, Director of Resident Services and Development for The Hill at Whitemarsh.

Since launching the VTO program, Nicole and her team, including Becca Scheetz, Digital Communications and Volunteer Supervisor, have put a lot of time and thought into how to nurture a culture of philanthropy with the staff.

“Serving others and helping people is the number one reason why people come to work at The Hill,” said Becca. “It’s really at the heart of who we are; we really love helping people.”

“We’re very relationship driven,” Nicole said. “Many of our partnerships happen organically because we’re already so connected to the wider community. Oftentimes the residents also pitch in with efforts that we’re working on, and it’s really quite wonderful.”

With so many worthy organizations to devote their volunteer hours to, Nicole and Becca decided to help narrow the scope of potential volunteer partners to those within the local Lafayette Hill/Chestnut Hill community. A short list includes the Carson Valley Children’s Aid, Chestnut Hill College, Chestnut Hill Meals on Wheels, Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania, Philabundance, Whitemarsh Community Ambulance Association, the Whitemarsh Foundation, and Woodmere Art Museum.

Carson Valley Children’s Aid, an organization that provides a variety of services to youth placed at risk to help ensure their safety and future success, has a residential program for roughly 50 youth residents on its Flourtown campus. For the past six years, The Hill staff and residents have volunteered to be part of the organization’s Thanksgiving holiday luncheon, which might seem like a small gesture, but it has had a huge impact on the children.

“Our residents are really generous, both with their financial contributions and with their time,” said Becca. “The Carson Valley luncheon is always our greatest turnout for volunteers. It’s very rewarding and eye opening. People are always grateful for the experience of working with these kids.”

As rewarding as the volunteer opportunities are for both the residents and the staff of The Hill, it’s also equally rewarding for Carson Valley’s staff and the youth that they serve.

“Serving others and helping people is the number one reason why people come to work at The Hill. It’s really at the heart of who we are; we really love helping people.” – Becca Scheetz

“Taking the time to show up for our children who don’t have the privilege of going home and spending the holidays with their families has had such a positive impact on them,” said Idalia Jolly, Associate Residential Care Director for Carson Valley Children’s Aid. “We are truly grateful and look forward to having The Hill volunteers get to know our youth each year.”

Both Robert Coleman, Director of Education at Carson Valley, and Elvira Torres, Executive Assistant to the CEO, agree that the volunteer partnership with The Hill has had a positive impact on their organization. From crafting the menu and executing the luncheon to donating gift cards that are distributed to the youth as Christmas gifts, the time, generosity, and thoughtfulness of The Hill volunteers has made a long-lasting impression on so many.

“Being able to reach out to those who are in need and to make a difference in their lives is really rewarding,” Nicole said. “It’s also professionally enriching for our employees to be able to volunteer and a great way for colleagues to interact and get to know one another outside of the work environment. It’s a real win-win situation.”