The Humana Foundation is dedicated to promoting healthy lives and healthy communities and encourages Humana associates to engage in this mission through community outreach. One unique opportunity it has created is the Humana Volunteer Fellowship which gives five associates a unique assignment: Leave your regular jobs for one month and devote yourself full-time to helping a local nonprofit.
This summer, the Humana Volunteer Fellowship, which piloted in Louisville in 2011, went to Green Bay. Five associates were selected to take part in the Fellowship, which is offered in one market each year.
“Humana associates have a tremendous wealth of ability, expertise and generosity,” said Humana Foundation Executive Director Virginia Kelly Judd. “The Humana Volunteer Fellowship offers them the opportunity to give back to the community in a way that puts their professional skills to use for a worthy cause and provides an opportunity to develop those skills even further.”
The five Fellows chosen for 2013 work in different areas of Humana’s Green Bay operations and hadn’t collaborated with one another until they gathered in July to begin the Fellowship at the Volunteer Center of Brown County.
“The team focused on programs helping isolated older adults and people with disabilities, expanding services to help them stay in their own homes and reducing isolation,” said Christine Danielson, the Center’s Executive Director. “They helped develop a project that will create transformational change.”
The Volunteer Center of Brown County had applied to serve as the host agency for the Humana Fellows and asked them to create materials that would help recruit, train and manage the volunteers who work with elderly and disabled residents in the Green Bay area. Jason Linskens works in marketing for Humana and helped craft the written materials and messaging for the Volunteer Center. He also said that as part of the Fellowship, he rode along on Meals on Wheels deliveries.
“We visited the houses of some people who were over 100,” said Linskens. “We met some people who said the Meals on Wheels driver would be the only person they’d see that day. I developed a real appreciation for what many seniors experience.”
Drina DuCharme works as a Clinical Advisor for Humana and is a social worker by training. She had extensive familiarity with the living conditions of people who sometimes struggle with basic home care and upkeep and brought that voice to the table as the Fellows worked on what became their primary focus: the creation of a training manual for the Center’s Neighborhood Volunteer Connection program.
“I tried to offer input on what the clients would really need and what qualities to look for in volunteers, but I’d never worked on creating a manual and was impressed by how it came together,” said DuCharme. “We feel like someone could walk in today, pick up that book and run the program.”
All told, the Humana Fellows created the Neighborhood Volunteer Connection manual, developed marketing materials, a database for registering volunteers and prospective clients, as well as evaluation tools. Their work will enable the Neighborhood Volunteer Connection, previously an occasional program, to go year-round.
“I feel privileged that I had the chance to work with the Humana Fellows and am amazed by what they were able to do in only four weeks,” said Danielson.
“It was a big task for a great cause,” said Linskens, “and that’s what made it so satisfying to accomplish.”
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