By Jim Senft
February 13, 2017
This year I again had the privilege of performing community service along with colleagues from CSL Behring on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service. This opportunity was made possible through a giving back initiative supported and encouraged by our company.
We traveled from our offices in King of Prussia, Pa. to Cradles to Crayons, an organization based in Conshohocken, Pa. that does fantastic work providing children from birth to age 12, living in homeless or low-income situations, with the essential items they need to thrive. We spent our time cleaning and sorting shoes, preparing them for the little (and some not so little) feet of the children who would be receiving them.
It was a rewarding experience and a chance to take time out from our normal work day to reflect on the needs that exist in our community. Many of us are fortunate enough to not have to worry about how we’re going to get our next pair of shoes when the soles start to wear, or how we’ll keep our children warm when the temperature drops. But many children and parents in our communities are not as fortunate.
Last year on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I helped with a neighborhood clean-up effort in the Frankford section of Philadelphia, not far from where I lived at the time. I met Ray Gant, an inspiring man who founded the Ray of Hope Project in Philadelphia. Ray is a strong and bright personality in a world that urgently needs people like him.
Ray is a strong and bright personality in a world that urgently needs people like him.
Through my involvement on Martin Luther King Jr. Day last year, I became motivated to work with Ray of Hope a few more times during the year to help clean up the neighborhoods that surrounded my section of Philadelphia. During this time, I saw the real need these communities have, but I also saw the difference Ray and his organization have been making. It was truly an uplifting experience.
I believe most of us share a desire to serve and have the same challenge – finding the time. I can say from personal experience that it’s about making the time. Even if you just spend a few hours here and there, the time can add up to help make a difference in people’s lives.
You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.
Most of all I think about Dr. King’s messages of equality, empowerment, and service. One of the Cradles to Crayons representatives shared a quote from Dr. King before we began our work that day. “Everybody can be great because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
Many of my fellow employees demonstrated that heart full of grace on Martin Luther King Jr. Day., such as Shefali Saini, a clinical safety physician with our Critical Care and Cardiovascular team, who volunteered with her local Goodwill. “I felt a lot of personal satisfaction and happiness by being able to pitch in, in a small way to our community and those underserved,” she said.
Pamela Thorpe, a clinical safety physician from the same team as Shefali, said she participates in the Martin Luther King Day of Service to demonstrate to her son and other children at Germantown Academy in Fort Washington. the importance of helping those in need. “We’re building a generation of givers,” she said.
Many employees make the day a family affair.
Many employees make the day a family affair. Kelsey Kern from the CSL Behring Logistics team volunteered through her church, St. Paul’s Baptist Church in West Chester, with her 16-year-old sister. Together, they prepared 75 emergency backpacks for the homeless.
Ryan Fleming from CSL Behring’s Legal Department spent the day with his two sons at a Lower Merion School District event where they made thank-you cards for local firefighters and gift bags for children undergoing chemotherapy, among several other activities. “It was a great day,” he said.
It gives me a lot of satisfaction to know that I work for a company that encourages its employees to go into their communities and participate in this special day of service. What a blessing it is to see so many people of diverse backgrounds be “great” by serving with “a heart full of grace” and “a soul generated by love.”
Jim Senft is an Internal Communications Specialist at CSL Behring.