In the fall of 2018, on a site visit with the team from MBI,Inc., Betty Cordellos, Director of Development and Communications at Norwalk Community Health Center, shared that her staff would love to do something to make their newly renovated pediatric dental suite more kid friendly. The MBI team jumped on board instantly. In addition to having a very artistic staff, they were already committed to donate and volunteer at NCHC’s Thanksgiving Drive and Holiday Party. This was just another way they could offer support to an organization that they believed in.
On August 1st, the team of volunteers began the project that would take 3 months to complete. They broke into small groups and visited NCHC several times a week to work on the mural. After countless hours of painting, the mural was completed in late October. The staff at NCHC was blown away by the final outcome, that began at the beginning of the year with preliminary design discussions and the choice of an animal theme that include calm and vibrant colors. Betty Cordellos raved “They are magicians. They turned a boring beige space into a fantastic pediatric dental room that kids actually enjoy visiting!. It’s been a beautiful partnership for us and we can’t thank them enough.”
At Volunteer Square we love to highlight the work of outstanding volunteers making a difference in their communities, so when MBI was looking for a way to celebrate their staff for this wonderful accomplishment, we thought it was a great opportunity to shine light on this whole group. We interviewed 5 volunteers to learn more about their volunteer history, what they liked about working on this project and how they would inspire others to get involved in the future. We are thrilled to share their thoughts and would like to congratulate everyone involved for an absolutely gorgeous transformation they created through this project. Their hard work and persistence throughout this project has made a tremendous impact on the staff and patients at Norwalk Community Health Center.
Julia M Baumgart, Product Development – Assistant Manager
My volunteer experience includes a range between helping to build/repair houses for families in need, assisting in a soup kitchen, and painting a mural (though a much smaller one!).
This project was appealing to me because the daughter of a friend of mine has intense anxiety in dentist’s offices. I thought if I could make something fun and welcoming for the NCHC, another kid like her might have an easier time. I also really enjoy painting animals (especially birds)! If it can bring someone joy, I am happy to do it. I was glad I could use my skills as an illustrator to make a positive impact on someone else’s experience.
I really enjoyed working on this project! It was fulfilling in a way I didn’t know I was missing. I was also glad there was a built-in collaboration with my coworkers. Large projects can be overwhelming, but working with a team made it much more manageable.
Cheryl Taccone, Secretary
My volunteer work with NCHS has included helping with the Children’s Christmas Party last year, running a craft table it was lots of fun! Also, I do quite a lot of volunteering at my church. This project appealed to me because our organization came up with idea and I liked the idea of painting the mural, it was a very different kind of project and everyone at NCHC was very nice and accommodating especially since it took a couple of months to finish.
I enjoy volunteering and making others feel better. To inspire others to get involved, I would tell them what a great feeling you get by making someone’s day. I really enjoyed volunteering for NCHC. I believe that it brightens the pediatric dental office and most kids don’t like going to the dentist, but I have heard the kids love the mural!
Monica Ogrodowski, Senior HR Manager
I’ve always had an interest in volunteering and was part of small projects here and there over the years, but this was the first one of this scale that I’ve organized and executed. I’ve primarily been involved in sorting donated clothes at homeless shelters (Person-to-Person in Darien), I’ve also cooked at soup kitchens (New Covenant Center in Stamford), and most recently helped organize donated books for a school library.
I was in charge of organizing this project for MBI in my role as Senior HR Manager. With that said, I didn’t get involved just because it was my job, I fully embraced it because of the cause. I loved the idea of taking a sterile and scary place like a pediatric dental exam room and making it fun and inviting for children through art. Being an artist at heart and by training, I was really excited to leverage my skills for a good cause.
I also enjoy knowing that I am supporting an organization that provides vital services for an underserved community. MBI is very charitable behind the scenes, but I think it’s great that there are now more concrete ways for employees to get involved and participate in “hands-on” projects within the community. Though it’s sometimes hard to balance day-to-day responsibilities with volunteering, it’s great to feel like you’re contributing to a greater good. As a bonus, you have the chance to build relationships across the company – something that might not be as easy when you are swamped with day-to-day responsibilities.
Hearing that kids are excited to come into an exam room that once terrified them makes me feel happy and proud that we were able to create such an inviting space.
Meghan Qualey, Associate Purchasing Manager
I used to volunteer regularly in high school for numerous events/causes, but in the past 15 years or so I haven’t done much beyond donations and such. This is the first time since school that I’ve been actively involved in such a large project.
I’ve helped organize and coordinate food drives, fundraisers, and walks way back in high school. In the past few years, my family and I “adopt” a family for Christmas and buy gifts for them (this is done through a local food bank/thrift store that my mom volunteers with).
I really liked the idea of painting a mural. I’ve never really considered who paints public murals or why, so getting to be involved with such unique project really piqued my interest. It’s also rewarding to think of how much the kids would like it, and how hopefully they’d be less intimidated by going to the dentist.
I liked the ease and friendliness in which we were welcomed to NCHC. Everyone seemed so eager and happy to have us there. I liked doing this project through work. It’s very easy to say you want to volunteer with something, but choosing a project or choosing people to do it with can be daunting and it’s so easy to push it off until later. I did not mind taking time out of my day to help out.
To inspire others, I would try to just discuss the project with others and if they seemed interested, I’d encourage them to help/join us. It feels really good to think this project will have a positive impact on the organization and their clients. The dentist (or doctors) can be a scary place for kids, and it’s nice to think that we’ve made it a little friendlier for everyone.
It’s really easy to forget how rewarding volunteering is. Life can get really hectic really quick, and it’s easy to lose sight of things outside of your own little bubble. Doing this project reminded me that there are so many different and interesting ways to help others and get involved.
Carol Nolin, Senior Graphic Designer
This was my first volunteer project with NCHC, I’ve volunteered before doing neighborhood clean ups, school PTOs when my daughters were younger. The project was appealing to me because of the fact that this was a group effort with others in MBI that I do not know very well and it was an artistic project. As an employee of MBI, I absolutely enjoy being offered options to volunteer through work, and side by side with work colleagues.
To inspire others to participate in volunteer projects through work or outside of work I suggest just including information early, and repeatedly through the process. Someone might not sign up initially, but then feel later, “oh now I have time to step in”.
It felt good to volunteer for NCHC. “We got continued “signs of appreciation” which felt nice of course, but is not needed with each (or future) projects.” I especially enjoyed not organizing the effort, just being a worker bee. Monica and Meghan’s organizing and supervising efforts were key to feeling like I could show up, work, and leave. Meghan and I worked one Saturday, which was a nice change to right after a work at MBI day. It can be a little more energizing to work in the morning on occasion.
Agata Tria, Senior Graphic Designer
I volunteer in my town, Weston, CT. I do graphic designs for WestonArts, and Weston Town. Also, I volunteer the church to help with kids’ events.
This project was appealing to me because it was about helping kids and giving back to community and the people who live in it. I liked volunteering for NCHC because I know we were making a little difference in the kid’s lives. Even though it was hard to go after work, I did enjoy it. Also, I loved the teamwork we created.
It feels absolutely great helping others and I just like knowing that by volunteering I can make a difference…small or big.
To learn more about how Volunteer Square can work with your company to create meaningful group volunteer projects, visit our website - www.VolunteerSquare.com.