Seventh Generation strives to create a culture of inspirational service that allows us to share our passions, skills and time with the people and organizations about which we care deeply. To encourage each of us to give back, we offer employees 16 hours of paid time off annually to volunteer in the community. We love it when this work strengthens the connections within our workplace, as well. In January 2010, more than 20 of us volunteered together at the Vermont Foodbank, enjoying the chance to bond with each other as well as to sort and pack 7000 pounds of food for those in need.
- Seventh Generation’s Individual Volunteer Program — formally established in 2010 — set a goal of achieving 1,000 volunteer hours during the year. We did that and more!
One member’s experience giving back: We also sponsor up to four employees in national/international volunteer efforts each year. In the fall of 2010, Consumer Relations Specialist Sefton Hirsch had the opportunity to join with the employees of other values-driven companies to make a difference in a struggling community through In Good Company. This organization, led by Clif Bar & Company, brings businesses together to be a powerful force for positive change.
“I packed my bags and headed to West Oakland, California for an adventure in volunteerism and helping to promote healthy food and healthy communities. During the week-long event, the group of participants from 11 companies — including Annie’s, Seventh Generation, New Belgium Brewing Company and Kaia foods — focused on In Good Company’s three pillars: green housing, sustainable food and environmental remediation.
West Oakland is a community plagued by poverty and health issues stemming from environmental pollution and the loss of industrial jobs. With the highest rates of respiratory disease, diabetes and obesity in the Bay Area, it is a “food desert” with only one small food market and over 40 convenience (liquor) stores to serve the needs of the community. We worked with City Slicker Farms to help maintain and establish backyard vegetable gardens and urban farms on vacant lots. Local residents are able to either grow their own food or obtain fresh produce from one of several urban farms where they pay only what they can afford. Some of the families also received chicken coops and three chickens — each of these may lay up to two eggs a day.
We also worked with Grid Alternatives to install solar panels on the homes of two low-income families and we planted bamboo in containers to help clean the air. The highlight of the week was the West Oakland Harvest Festival and community potluck where we were able to meet many of the community members we were there to help. This experience touched my heart deeply and I feel that I have made two dozen new best friends. It was a truly amazing experience.”
Our annual food drive
Sales Business Analyst Heather Dodge coordinated this effort and was thrilled with the response: “In addition to collecting food items, we also had employees volunteer time at the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf during the Food Drive period. The personal connection to the cause inspired people to donate more. We turned the drive into a contest amongst seven different geographic areas of our building. The winning group, who happened to be repeat champions from last year, contributed 71.25 pounds of non-perishable food per person, a 50% increase over their donations last year. The winners were treated to lunch at the local restaurant of their choice.
Due to the economy and some critical projects around the office, we were worried that we wouldn't be able to even meet last year’s total. The volunteer opportunity definitely inspired people, because we hit the mark, and even exceeded last year’s total slightly. The best part for me was hearing the stories from employees who volunteered, and also hearing from the Food Shelf staff how they loved having us there. This is one of the most rewarding — and fun — aspects of my job. I’m really proud that everyone at Seventh Generation came together to give so generously.”