Volunteers donate time, talents and more to create a warm environment for both clients and staff
Brand-new lockers. Freshly planted flowers. Sky-blue paint for the new bike shed. Toys galore for the play room.
These were but a few of the generous donations the South Oakland Shelter received from Mercedes-Benz Financial Services as part of its “Week of Caring” initiative.
But the most precious gift of all was the 20 company employees who spent the day at the shelter’s Lathrup Village office to bring it all together.
They arrived bright and early June 19, ready and eager to work. And it was hard work – especially for the trio tackling the task of assembling lockers for shelter clients.
One of the volunteers – Data Scientist Nikhar Shah, said employees were presented with many different options and he and others chose SOS as a catalyst to make a difference in the community.
“Six hours of our day can make change in people’s lives so that’s a great thing Mercedes-Benz lets us do,” Shah said. “It’s always a pleasure … we do it every year.”
His colleague, IT manager Usha Kompalli, agreed, saying: “It has been very humbling and very satisfying.”
Outside, the back lot was abuzz with activity. Several men were hard at work, applying fresh paint to the faded parking lines while Jackie Foster happily tended to the newly planted garden.
“I do this at home so I feel right at home,” said Foster, who works in accounting. “I love it.”
And the volunteer day itself? Well, she loves that, too.
“We get to work with different people in the company and it gets us out (in the community),” she said. “It’s a social thing for all of us.”
Nearby, Paul Brooks was high up on a ladder, painting the shelter’s brand-new bike shed. It was a big job and one Brooks took over from a fellow employee who needed a break.
“We’re all team players here,” said Brooks, who works in IT governance. “We all have a shared purpose of getting the right thing done in the best way possible. And, guess what? We stick to it and we watch out for one another.”
“Something like this is not a chore, it’s a joy.”
And, for that, SOS is truly grateful.
“Volunteer days like this mean the world to SOS and its clients,” said Leila Vallerino, Development Associate of Community Engagement at SOS.
“It’s a huge morale booster for people facing housing challenges or homelessness. The generosity of Mercedes-Benz Financial Services and its employees helps create a welcoming environment that sends a powerful message to our clients: “You matter, your life is valued, and you are welcome here.”
To see the full extent of the projects completed, visit our Facebook Album.
Want to volunteer with SOS? Click this link to learn more!