Program amplifying the impact of employees’ volunteerism


DES MOINES, Iowa – Summer can be a challenging time for non-profit organizations and groups looking to make a difference in our communities. Charitable donations are down and there can be a lack of volunteers. One local woman’s workplace is rewarding her volunteer efforts.

When Sharon Fife isn’t working at Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, she’s giving her time to a foundation that supports area schools. Turns out all of that time is paying off because the Wellmark Foundation’s BluesCare Giving program takes employees’ volunteer hours and converts them to a dollar amount that they can donate to an organization.

“So for every eight hours I volunteer, I can turn that into $250 for an organization of my choice, up to $10,000 per year. So a significant benefit,” Fife, a Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield employee, said. “Let’s just be honest, I’m going to be sitting at home, catching up on emails and doing other things like that. It’s a great opportunity for me to turn that time into something that’s meaningful for the schools that are served by the foundation, and then turn around and turn that into money for the foundation as well.”

Fife serves on the board of directors and is a parent volunteer for Hoover-Meredith Learning Community Foundation, which supports nearly 4,000 students in classrooms at six northwest side Des Moines schools. The foundation provides educational grants and pays for teacher supplies, field trips, and learning materials to support a diverse student population.

So far through the program at her work, Fife’s hundreds of volunteer hours have helped raise thousands of dollars for the foundation.

“One person can make a difference, and that message is very loudly communicated through the actions of Sharon Fife,” Todd Jacobus, president of Hoover-Meredith Learning Community Foundation, said. “That one person bringing in $24,000 to our foundation in a three-year period is incredible and as an individual, she’s funded 48 learning enhancement grants throughout our six schools. So she has personally made an impact, and I encourage others to seek those opportunities to do likewise.”

This foundation as well as other organizations across the community are in need of more volunteers right now. If you’re inspired to give back, get connected to see how you can help.

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