Tempe, Ariz.,
11:46 AM

Boosting Morale by Giving Back

When Cari Hagopian stayed in the hospital while her 18-month-old daughter had open heart surgery, she felt lonely. Years later, when her team at State Farm® was looking for a way to give back and boost morale, she paid it forward to parents going through a similar situation.

The team in Tempe, Ariz., collected items to donate to the Phoenix Children’s Hospital for families who have to stay at the hospital for an extended period of time. Donated toys, books and hygiene products help make that stay a little more comfortable.

“I understood where the parents and children were coming from on an emotional level,” Cari says of the patients and their families at the hospital. “We stayed in the hospital the entire time our daughter had the procedure. It’s a lonely experience. We benefitted from a cart that had toothpaste and deodorant and other hygiene products.

“All those things are so welcoming when you don’t want to go home.”

The team was looking for a way to connect to each other.

“We were looking at different team building activities to help boost team morale. We discussed several charities, but decided on Phoenix Children’s Hospital because it was local and we had interest in helping kids and their families,” says Katie Erickson, State Farm employee.

The team sits close to each other in Tempe but felt there was still room to get to know each other better. They made signs and alerted others about the volunteer donations collection. They took the donations to the hospital together.

“Going off campus, being with each other and not talking work was positive,” Cari says. “I feel closer to everybody after that. We were all helping one cause.”

Trying to provide donations that would be most-welcomed, some asked family members for suggestions.

“I got some ideas from my sister, who is a teacher,” says Desirae Gonder, State Farm employee. “I donated coloring books, markers, crosswords for adults and learning activity books for kids.”

As the team entered the hospital, they were struck by all the smiling faces.

“I had never been to the Children’s Hospital, but it was a very positive environment,” says Teresa Ridlon, State Farm employee. “The coordinator was appreciative of our donation because it’s important to have those hygiene products.”

“There were a lot of stuffed animals donated. For a child, that’s going to give great comfort to have something snuggly to hold onto when they’re scared and uncertain of what’s happening,” Teresa adds.

Her grandson was born a micro-preemie and was in the newborn intensive care unit for five months. “To be able to give back in a small way is wonderful.

“We’re all dedicated employees and we give a lot in our day-to-day job, but to go outside of that and give back was very rewarding.”

“For me, to focus on something positive and collect everything, leave work as a team and help a greater cause was very fulfilling,” Katie says.

April is National Volunteer Month, and this week is National Volunteer Week. April became National Volunteer Month as part of President George H. W. Bush’s 1000 Points of Light campaign in 1991.

Join the Neighborhood of Good® and make a difference in your community. To find volunteer opportunities, visit NeighborhoodofGood.com®.

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