Experiences From Our 2019 Kreischer Miller Cares Day of Service

In 2012, Kreischer Miller launched the Kreischer Miller Cares Day of Service as part of our Kreischer Miller Cares program. This annual event offers an opportunity for our team members to volunteer at local service organizations and provide hands-on community service. For many of our team members, the experience goes beyond just giving their time, energy, and skills. Their volunteer efforts offer them the opportunity to connect with their communities and impact the well-being of others.

This year’s Day of Service took place on Friday, May 10th. We asked a few of our team members who served at Elwyn, General Louis Wagner Middle School, Peter Becker Community, and Cradles to Crayons to provide insight on each of their experiences and what made the day so meaningful. Here are their responses.

Elwyn

I had the privilege to volunteer at the Elwyn Farm in Media. During our time on the farm, we weeded the garden beds and weed-wacked. This farm is part of the Davidson School, which is a school for special needs kids. The farm allows these kids to learn how to garden, maintain the crops and encourages them to maintain a healthy diet. Two of the kids were able to be a part of our volunteer day. They were very hard-working and were not afraid to get dirty.  A lot of the food either gets donated or they have a food stand where people can buy the fresh crops.  We had the opportunity to browse the stand, which included mostly tomatoes, honey, herbs and a fig tree. The farmer, Brendan, was very appreciative and he was very happy at how much weeding we were able to get done.

Volunteering for the farm makes me appreciate all of the fresh vegetables, fruits, and other foods that we buy at the grocery stores. It made me realize how much work really goes into getting the food from the farm to the store.

-Michelle Westervelt, Senior Accountant

This year for KM Cares, I chose to volunteer at Elwyn Farm. Our team spent time doing a variety of tasks for the farmer, who usually does all of the work by himself. The KM team helped out by weeding the onion crops, landscaping, cutting down trees, and planting various crops for the upcoming season. It was awesome to be able to help out with the school and interact with their students while performing these tasks. It was amazing to see how much enthusiasm the students put into everything they were doing throughout the day. This served as a great team building activity for all involved and it was definitely a learning experience. I look forward to our KM Cares day next year!

-Vince LoStracco, Staff Accountant

General Louis Wagner Middle School

I was excited to join fellow KM Team Members in gardening at the Wagner Middle School in Philadelphia for KM Cares this year. We removed the weeds and planted a beautiful patch of flowers in the school’s existing W-shaped flower beds. I love that KM offers a variety of ways to give back to many different kinds of organizations, so I could share my love for gardening to benefit a good cause. An added perk of the day was being able to involve the students in gardening so they could be a part of the awesome transition. At the end of the day, it was nice to see that our hard work and dirty hands had transformed the space into what will hopefully brighten students’ and the local community’s days as they pass by.

-Jacquelyn Thomson, Staff Accountant

For KM Cares 2019, I was able to participate with other KM team members in creating a new “Zen” space for students at Wagner Middle School. As part of our day of service, we painted and cleaned a room and made it into a lounge and relaxation area for the students. While fresh paint and an overall cleaning of the room were necessary, the real perks of the room include the added games, bean bag chairs, and resources for the students. The finished product will provide students with a place to hang out in between classes, and will promote comradery amongst the students. Based on some of the comments we received from students and teachers upon finishing the room, it seemed like everyone was excited about putting it to use! It was an overall nice team building exercise with other KM employees and the end product was a fantastic new space for the students at Wagner.

-Eric Levandowski, Senior Accountant

Peter Becker Community

This year I had the opportunity to volunteer at Peter Becker, a retirement community in Harleysville. Because we had such a large group of volunteers, we were broken up into smaller groups to help with various tasks throughout the campus. I chose to spend my time with the residents, playing board games and getting to know a bit more about them and their backgrounds. I was surprised to learn that some of the residents have pets living with them, and I had fun getting to know one woman in particular, Helen, and her dog Brutus. Helen reminded me so much of my grandmother, and it made me nostalgic to sit with her and learn a little bit about her. We finished up our day with a karaoke session with the residents, and you could tell how much they loved the chance to sing some of their favorite songs from their younger days. I really enjoyed my time at Peter Becker and am planning to volunteer there again in the future!

-Melanie Vivian, Director

Cradles to Crayons

My KM Cares day took place at Cradles to Crayons in Philadelphia. Cradles to Crayons focuses on helping impoverished children by accepting and sorting donations for boys and girls from birth through age 12. KM members took turns sorting various articles of clothing by gender and size as part of a multi-step process to help ensure that the children in need received clothing that fit properly. My personal favorite activity was ‘shopping’. Shopping is an activity in which a KM team member received the description and age of a child and the KM team member selected art supplies, books, and clothing based on what the child needed and requested. I especially enjoyed the experience because it enables KM team members to work together on a common goal outside of the workplace and to benefit the community.

-Kevin Burke, Staff Accountant

Covenant House

This year for KM Cares I chose to spend my day volunteering at Covenant House, where homeless youth throughout the Philadelphia metropolitan region are cared for with respect and unconditional love. One of the primary goals of the staff members at Covenant House is to help the residents formulate a plan to achieve stability and independence. KM gave me, along with fifteen other team members, the opportunity to support the staff’s efforts by helping several of the residents prepare for job interviews.  Kristin Seeger, our firm’s recruiter, provided us with key interview questions to help us prepare for the mock interviews.

Volunteering as an interviewer was truly mutually beneficial and rewarding to me. The two residents I interviewed were more prepared than I expected and had ideas for where they wanted to work. The first resident wanted to work at FedEx where his brother worked so he could spend time with him during the day (his brother was not a resident). He had completed a job application and was scheduled for an interview in a couple of days. The other resident was artistically talented, had created a portfolio of her artwork, and wanted to work in a marketing position and get involved in creating murals to improve some of the neighborhoods in Philadelphia.

In addition to helping the residents learn important life skills and feel supported, the staff at Covenant House collects and distributes apparel and accessories to the residents.  After the mock interviews, we spent time sorting through multiple bags and boxes of donations, including several that we collected at KM for the residents.  We organized a large space in the basement where the residents could visit and select items.  It was amazing how many items were donated — we ran out of hangers!   Jen Kreischer and Tom Peters went out and purchased several hangers so we could continue to display the donations throughout the afternoon.

As our day at Covenant House came to an end, we felt extremely fulfilled and the staff was very thankful for our assistance in helping their residents prepare for job interviews and dress for success too — we were KM Proud!

According a recent article from the The Philadelphia Inquirer, “In the U.S., it’s estimated that nearly 40 percent of young people who are released from foster care either become homeless or bounce from one temporary housing situation to the next.”

Blythe Seese, Relationship Strategist

Check out pictures from the day!

 

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