MANILA – The months of May and June have come to have a different meaning for employees of Citi in the Philippines. During these summer months when most Filipinos plan their getaways with families and friends, the employees of the 115-year old Citi franchise are sticking close to the communities where they live and work, to volunteer their time and talent through Global Community Day (GCD).
What’s even more impressive is that this is their 12th year to celebrate this service tradition, and each year, more and more employees are participating, along with their families and friends. According to Aneth Lim, Director for Public Affairs and Citizenship, it’s one big family affair that includes even alumni or people who used to work in Citi.
“In a word, it’s inspiring. Each year, we see greater engagement from our employees and their commitment is commendable. Take this year, we have 26 events planned for four weekends from May 20 to June 10, and we see employees with their families and friends signing up not just for one event, or two, but sometimes for three or all four weekends,” said Lim.
It takes a global bank
The planning for Citi’s volunteer events begins as early as January, as the country’s largest foreign bank scan Metro Manila and Metro Cebu for activities where its employees can make an impactful contribution. Citi reaches out to long-time non-profit partners as well as explores new partnerships to create volunteer opportunities for thousands of employees.
“We try to design a range of events that will appeal to volunteers of different ages and backgrounds. Those who like to work with children enjoy spending time with the beneficiaries of Childhope Philippines, where they are given the chance to create sand art together or just watch a movie. We also have volunteers that like to share their skills, so we see our lawyers providing free legal advice, our risk managers and information technology officers lending their specific expertise to micro business owners,” Lim explained.
What’s even more impressive is that these volunteers not only give their time, sacrificing Saturday mornings, or their talent, they also generously give donations to ensure their community service goes a long way. Last year, employees raised enough money to provide reading nooks with bi-lingual fiction books to every single classroom in Nangka Elementary School in Marikina City. This year, Citi hopes to top that by giving the same donation not just to one, but two public schools.
Partners for true service
For this year, Citi forged partnerships with Habitat for Humanity, GMA Kapuso Foundation and Bonifacio Art Foundation for new volunteer opportunities, while renewing partnerships with Philippine Business for Social Progress, World Vision Development Foundation, ChildHope Philippines, Bayan Academy and the Philippine Foundation for the Rehabilitation of the Disabled.
On May 20, more than 100 volunteers worked side by side 200 children to make sandpaper art to be sold in a charity auction. Proceeds from the auction will help fund ChildHope Philippines projects helping street children. The kids worked closely with their “Ate” (big sister) and “Kuya” (big brother), as they translated their hopes and dreams for the future using colorful crayons and sandpaper. Some children wanted to be chefs, a police captain and even the captain of a ship. These streetkids are from urban poor communities in Monumento, Morayta, Lawton, Divisoria, Binondo, Luneta, Pier, Ermita, and near the Ospital ng Maynila (Manila.)
“We would like to take this opportunity to thank our dear partner, Citi Philippines, for their continued commitment to volunteerism through the GCD. We’ve been very fortunate to be their partner for 9 years, committing their precious time, effort and energy to help boost the morale of vulnerable street children. We hope to continue forging a strong partnership with them in advancing the welfare of the children,” said Dr. Herbert Quilon Carpio, Executive Director of ChildHope Philippines.
At Longos Elementary School in Malabon, volunteers cleaned classrooms and potted plants to get the school ready for the coming school year. A group of Citi employees also participated in a Disaster Risk Reduction Training with 30 children beneficiaries of World Vision Development Foundation with kits provided by Citi. School children are now required to undergo disaster training and to have SOS kits composed of a whistle and a flashlight. Other volunteers sharpened their pencils and helped 30 kids write letters or make artwork for their sponsors to show their appreciation for their continuing scholarships.
Acting Executive Director Rommel Fuerte said, “World Vision’s success is rooted in the strong partnerships we have built, and we are blessed with a firm, reliable, and committed partner in Citi Philippines. We are grateful that they have chosen us again as a Global Community Day charity partner, which over the years have brought about remarkable change, contribution and assistance to children, families and communities in need. Citi’s generosity as a company is matched only by the fervent enthusiasm and genuine care of their volunteer employees. We are very happy with the partnership and support of Citi Philippines, and we look forward to more years of helping children together.”
At Alabang Zapote Road in Las Pinas, volunteers gamely processed inventory and tagged donated items with prices at Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore, a first in Philippines and in Asia. ReStore is a nonprofit home improvement store and donation center that sells new and gently used furniture, appliances, home accessories, building materials and more to the public at a fraction of the retail price. Proceeds will help fund Habitat for Humanity’s projects to build homes for families in need.
On May 27, some 400 volunteers trooped to Sto. Nino Elementary School in Marikina in support of the Department of Education’sBrigada Eskwela activity in partnership with the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP). Participants donned masks and rolled up their shirtsleeves to paint 280 chairs and clean 12 classrooms. Senior executives including Lim worked side by side with their teams. Their half day’s work of cleaning and beautifying the grounds and surroundings will benefit around 3,000 students who are expected to be enrolled at this public school by June.
“This year, Citi mobilized almost 1,000 employee volunteers, to help two public schools – Sto. Nino Elementary School and Upper Bicutan National High School – prepare for the opening of the school year. Employees will also raise funds for the installation of reading nooks in all classrooms of Tipas Elementary School to encourage and promote reading to its students. The engagement by Citi complements PBSP’s collective impact work to help improve access to quality education in partnership with the Department of Education. Anchored on the Filipino value of Bayanihan, this is a true testament to how the “village” takes bold steps to educate its children,” said PBSP Executive Director Reynaldo Laguda.
Breaking service records
Come June 3 and June 10, Lim is confident Citi will break more service records in its next 12 events in four cities.
“Global Community Day has become a time-honored annual tradition, as Citi employees in different parts of the world come together with their families and friends to share their time, skills and expertise to make a difference in the cities where they live and work. It has become a strong testament to the power of volunteerism to make a positive impact in people’s lives.”
Last year, Citi saw more than 85,000 volunteers in more than 500 cities spanning 91 countries and territories engage in several service activities in their local communities. This year, Citi hopes to break that record, and the team in the Philippines has certainly done its share to make that happen.