MRA is a strong supporter of community involvement. Through the Community Service Day Program, employees can volunteer at a charitable institution of their choice. It is a great experience knowing that their work helped serve the community. Below are some of our employees' volunteer day contributions.
Second Harvest Heartland
On Friday, January 27th, the MN office came together for an opportunity to give back to our community by volunteering with Second Harvest Heartland. MRA has a longstanding partnership with Second Harvest Heartland as members, and we were thrilled to partner with them in a new way to pack food for distribution around the Twin Cities. Not only was this a great way to give back, but it was also a fantastic team-building opportunity.
MRA's Golden Valley, Minnesota Employees
Hunger Task Force
Each year, MRA encourages its employees to spend a day volunteering for their favorite charity or community organization. This year I volunteered the day before Thanksgiving for the Hunger Task Force fundraiser “Food for Families” phone bank with WISN Channel 12. The WISN anchors were great! When they came into the studio set, where we were located, they were so encouraging and thankful for the work we were doing. It also was interesting to see the power of television at work, because as soon as the anchors were on camera talking about the food drive, the phones would light up and start ringing. It was a lot of fun talking to people who wanted to make a donation to the Hunger Task Force during the Thanksgiving holiday. While I don’t think a television career is in my future, we were able to raise more than $130,000 during the two-day food drive!
All the Ingredients for MRA to Make a Difference!
MRA’s Volunteer Day is a great benefit for employees to help out in their community in a meaningful way. It allows each of us to pour our passion into the charities, organizations, and non-profits that are personally important to us. This year, I volunteered at the Hunger Task Force to help assemble 500 Thanksgiving Day food boxes that were distributed to food pantries in southeast Wisconsin. These boxes included a turkey and all the trimmings for a complete Thanksgiving Day dinner for 500 families in need.
I’ve been an advocate for fighting hunger for many years now and as part of the Hunger Task Force executive committee, I get to participate in a number of fun and worthy events to help end hunger in Wisconsin. There are several upcoming fundraising opportunities for anyone who wishes to participate this month including Touchdowns for Hunger with Sargento Cheese, holiday greeting cards and a holiday pub crawl fundraiser called the 12 Bars of Charity.
Patrick Farrell, Director of Marketing and Engagement
Eras Senior Network & Misfits for Jesus
This year, I enjoyed my volunteer day on Wednesday, December 8th. It was active, I was sore, and people were helped---it was FANTASTIC!
A friend and I raked leaves for a senior in the community, who still owns his own home but cannot do most yardwork. Eras Senior Network provides this service and much more. Since the city leaf pickup wasn't available, we filled nine huge garbage bags, and that weekend, my family and I took them to the Waukesha Drop-Off Center. The client sent us off with a firm, appreciative handshake, and a smile!
That afternoon, we continued to volunteer, but for Misfits for Jesus. This Christian-based organization provides food, clothing, hygiene items, and ministry to the homeless. The warehouse in Waukesha is full of these items to be taken to the streets and donated. My job was to sort hygiene items. Sounds simple, but there were so many donations, it took all afternoon! What's pictured in the grocery cart wasn't even half of it. They'll make Blessing Bags of soap, toothbrushes, etc. to give away.
It's humbling to take a full day and just serve others. I look forward to next year's volunteer day!
Tina Heinonen, Senior Registrations Specialist
Hmong American Women’s Association (HAWA), Inc.
The Hmong American Women’s Association (HAWA), Inc. is a nonprofit organization founded in 1993 by a group of 13 community women who had a strong passion to advocate, organize, and share concerns reflected on women in the larger Hmong community. HAWA advocates and supports social services, health education, literacy development, Hmong cultural enrichment programs, tutoring, and mentorship for youth, as well as convening safe spaces for Hmong women and girls to build sisterhood.
My takeaway from this experience was memorable! Everyone was welcoming and friendly. Helping HAWA move to their new building was a great opportunity. They are a small group with great passion. They provide great resources and tools for the community. I am super excited to see their organization grow and look forward to attending their grand opening in 2022 with the new building.
Yee Yang, HR Specialist
Care Net Pregnancy Center of Milwaukee
Care Net Pregnancy Center of Milwaukee is a nonprofit organization providing services for women facing an unplanned pregnancy. Opening its doors over 35 years ago in an underserved area of Milwaukee, Care Net provides free, confidential, compassionate, and practical services to women, their children, and partners, if they choose.
Pregnancy testing, ultrasounds, counseling, education and training of all kinds, clothing, diapers, and so much more is available free of charge to all who come. Care continues with the family until the child is 3 years old and is customized to each unique family situation. Women receive a basic startup nursery gift bag, plus other items when they come to the clinic for their monthly visit. One-on-one personal time is spent caring for each woman and impactful relationships are often established.
While it has a few paid staff, this organization is able to offer its many services and free goods through many generous donations and a group of dedicated volunteers.
Volunteers can help sort, clean and organize the many donated items, including clothing of all sizes and seasons for the kids and pregnant moms, blankets, diapers, wipes, formula, shoes, toys, and so much more. Additionally, volunteers can help administratively in the office, be trained as client advocates or educators, and so much more.
I was able to assist as a volunteer for a day during the holiday season when extra tangible gifts and needed items are made available during visits. I was able to participate in a range of services that day and look forward to continuing volunteering my time at such a grassroots, impactful, high-touch organization.
Thanks, MRA, for supporting your staff in being involved in their community in volunteer capacities.
Jeanine Bly, Roundtable Facilitator
Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin
MRA is a strong supporter of community involvement. Through the Community Service Day Program, I was fortunate to volunteer during the holidays with MRA member, Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin. They are the leading hunger-relief organization in the state, operating food banks in Milwaukee and Fox Valley. Together, with a network of about 600 member organizations, they provide food to nearly 400,000 people each year in 36 counties, including 124,000 children and 41,000 seniors.
I was so excited for the opportunity that I showed up at the Feeding America downtown warehouse bright and early at 7:30 am for my volunteer tour of duty as a warehouse sorter. I was a bit overzealous as my shift started at 9:00 am. Mick, the Operations Manager, met me and several other volunteers at the door. He explained that our role was to sort donated food from large banana boxes to 31 different bins. Mick described the different types of food and where they belong. After 15 minutes we were put to work! I spent the rest of the day with 30 of my closest community service friends sorting food such as potato chips, coffee, sauces, ketchup and ho hos.
It was a great experience and knowing that my work helped our member serve the community made me feel good. Thank you MRA for allowing me to help our members make a difference!
Junior Achievement Biz Town
I attended Junior Achievement’s BizTown along with the Metro Milwaukee SHRM group on 2/15. I spent the day with a massive group of 5th-grade students, where they learned about how to be good citizens and employees. Each student was assigned a job and associated tasks that they had to complete throughout the simulation. I was assigned to City Hall, where I helped staff the Mayor and guide the police department through a potential PR nightmare after a citizen saw an officer breaking one of their rules—no running at BizTown!
Sam Siebenaller, HR Services Manager
In December, I had the opportunity to spend my MRA Community Day volunteering at Junior Achievement Biz Town, where 96 fifth grade students from the Golda Meir School in Milwaukee operated a bank, Culvers restaurant, city hall, newspaper, Kohl’s store, and 10 other businesses. I had a great group of students who worked together to operate the Supply and Delivery Store, which was responsible for delivering all of the products that the businesses would need for the day as well as letters and other items sent through the mail.
Each student had a job description and list of tasks to follow, including invoicing and paying bills, taking inventory of supplies, and paying employees. The mayor of the town as well as each CEO had to present in front of the entire group at the town meetings. The students earned two paychecks with a salary based on their job and were able to shop at the various stores at the end of the day and purchase products, invest their money, or donate to a charity.
Junior Achievement is a great organization giving students real-world experience using tools and technology they may see in the future. I had a lot of fun interacting with the students and am thankful that MRA allows employees the time to give back to the community.
Amy Weyker, Human Resources Business Advisor
Tina, Joe, and Taylor recently had an exciting five weeks volunteering with Junior Achievement! They were placed in Mrs. Schellhaas's 1st-grade classroom at Pewaukee Lake Elementary and had the opportunity to spend 30 minutes/week with 23 eager and energetic first-graders. The lessons and activities provided by JA were both fun and educational, giving students an opportunity to learn about careers, money, businesses, and entrepreneurs (including their own imaginary cake shop), and the positive impact these have on families, communities and neighborhoods. They had a great time in the classroom - students were eager to learn and participate as well as share their own experiences. The three are looking forward to future opportunities with JA, and if you are interested in learning more, feel free to chat with any of them!
"My experience in the classroom was enjoyable, motivating, and refreshing to see the eagerness of the students at that age. They loved to learn and loved to share their input. I am sad this session has come to an end, but looking forward to future opportunities in JA classrooms!" - Taylor Teske
"It was very fun walking into an elementary school and working with kids so excited to learn! Junior Achievement provides the entire lesson plan and all the materials, making this a seamless volunteer experience. I was nervous at first, I admit, but each lesson took little planning, and it was helpful working with fellow MRAers. Plus, first-graders are attentive and interested, and they always had a fun activity to complete during the lesson. I would highly recommend JA to anyone who has never taught before!" - Tina Heinonen
"Volunteering for JA was extremely fun and rewarding with minimal outside prep work. JA does a fantastic job of setting you up to succeed in the classroom with plenty of well-designed and engaging activities. The students had a fantastic time learning and it was also a great team-building opportunity for the three of us." - Joe Grennier
Tina Heinonen, Senior Registrations Specialist
St. Vinny’s Food Bank
Last month, I spent my MRA community day of service in the basement of an old church at the St. Vinny’s food bank in Milwaukee. There my family and I delivered, set up, and served supper to 140 hungry men, women, and children. During the food service we were greeted with many grateful eyes, smiles, and thank yous. After "seconds" were called and the guests of the food bank had their fill, the volunteers were offered a plate of food, so we sat and ate with those we just served.
It was a humbling experience, one that really can’t be put into words, but one that I am very thankful for. And I’m thankful for a positive experience for my kids to see life through a different lens for a bit, while helping those who really needed it. Cheers to MRA for giving me the opportunity to give back to the community with my family.
Minnesota's Adopt a Highway Project
Our "Orange Is the New Black" Clean Team completed another productive Adopt a Highway outing on October 19, out in the farmlands west of the Twin Cities. We had a beautiful, sunny, and very windy day for our event. Bill Hansen, Linda Jancaric, Stephanie Rutt, Karen Ekberg, Karen Zolik, Ann Kline, and Heidi Armstrong made up the trash crew this year.
We’re convinced that our visibility and setting the example for keeping our roads trash-free has made a big impact on how remarkably clean "our" road has stayed. That, and those attractive orange vests we all wear and get to keep! Big liquor bottles, little liquor bottles, pillows, and sheets were a part of our treasures. And nothing dead. Sounds like a sleepover party, doesn’t it? Good times! We have only one more date to fulfill our two-year commitment to the state. We can’t believe it! And already, some MRA team members are talking about re-upping for another few years. As one said, "We’re doing this again, aren’t we? This is fun!" Fun indeed!
Linda Jancaric, Compensation Director
Futures Free From Violence - The Women's Center
On August 23, MRA sponsored a fundraising event for MRA member, The Women's Center. The Women's Center helps women and children in situations of abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking. It was a wonderful event and we are proud that MRA supports this organization with such an important mission. In attendance from MRA, were Kathy Krohn, Meagan Boyer, Taylor Teske, Rachel Campbell, and Laurie Greenlees. We were able to network with other attendees and also have a great time at the event. Thank you MRA for sponsoring the event and the invitation to attend!
Kathy Krohn, Member Relations Manager
Minnesota State Fair's Moo Booth
This year for my Community Day, it was important to me to find an opportunity that my kids could volunteer with me and be a part of giving back. As a family, one of our favorite things to wrap up the summer is our trip to the Minnesota State Fair. This year the kids and I decided to spend an extra day at the fair by volunteering through the Fair's Moo Booth. We arrived bright and early (before the crowds) and settled into the Moo Booth coloring contest. It was fun talking with families, as they visited the building, and watching little kids color and learn about dairy farming.
One of the parents shared with me that she grew up on a dairy farm, where she now takes her own kids to visit. Her daughter was excited to find the farm toys at the booth and start building her own little farm. Each of the coloring contest participants was given a gift bag, which was sponsored by MRA member Associated Milk Producers Inc. (AMPI). It's great to see that even when we are volunteering, there is a connection in our community between MRA employees and the member companies that we support.
Kate Nelson, Training Scheduling Manager
MOM: Mission of Mercy
This summer I had the opportunity to use my MRA paid volunteer day helping out at MOM: Mission of Mercy. "What is that?" you ask. It is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that since 1994 has been providing free healthcare, free dental care, and free prescription medications to the uninsured, underinsured, and those who "fall through the cracks" in our health-care system.
This was my first year volunteering with MOM, but it was my sister's, brother's and mom's fourth year. We volunteer in my Dad's honor, as he was a dentist and the department head of prosthodontics at Marquette University School of Dentistry and the University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine.
My volunteering position was a "runner" in the extraction area. In this curtained off area, there were 14 dental chairs up and running and equipped with dentists and assistants. I kept the supply table equipped with clean and sterile instruments used for the procedures. All the "used" equipment had to be returned to the sterile area and supplies had to be kept stocked and ready for hands-on use. I easily got my 20,000 steps in for the day!
The site was truly eye-opening and it was very heartwarming to see the hundreds of people who volunteered for this two-day event at the Wisconsin State Fair Park. We serviced over 2,000 patients doing everything from education of dental care, cleaning teeth, pediatric dentistry, pulling teeth, making fake teeth etc. ... you name it - these dentists probably did it!
Erin Ramstack, A/P Accounting Specialist
The Greater Waukesha Literacy
MRA rocked out at the 26th Annual Greater Waukesha Literacy Corporate Spelling Bee on June 14th. Lindsey Hofmann, Sara Benjamin, Diane Fowler, Kendalynn Becker, Alyssa Johnson, Taylor Teske, and Kathy Price celebrated some of the catchiest music from a decade of singers and bands from the 1980s, all while spelling away! While the team did not walk away with the win, the spellers brought their "A" game. The winning word? Boutonnière.
The Greater Waukesha Literacy provides confidential, one-on-one tutoring and other services to individuals who need help with reading, writing, spelling, speaking, math, and English language learning. The team was proud to support a great cause!
Kathy Price, Director, Learning & Development, Instructors
The Next Generation of HR Professionals
On April 27, MRA hosted its annual spring "The Next Generation of HR Professionals" event for college students pursuing their degree in the field of human resources. We had students join us from UW-Whitewater, UW-Milwaukee, and Waukesha County Technical College. Susan Fronk opened the session with a warm welcome and inspirational message. Jim Morgan shared his wisdom on where the jobs are, how to get them, and how to make an impact on the job.
Laurie Greenlees explored the spectrum of workplace conduct, as it relates to the #metoo movement and shared how HR can gain trust and respect from colleagues. We closed the afternoon with a career panel discussion, where students asked their burning questions of Rachel Campbell, Deidre Garrett, Andy Marris, and Laurie Greenlees. A lucky student was awarded complimentary registration to MRA's aPHR class along with prep materials, compliments of HRCI.
Hats off to this engaging group of students, and a special thank-you to Taylor Teske, Lindsey Hofmann, and Rachel Campbell for their time and talents that helped bring this event to life!
Jim Morgan, VP, Business Development & Workforce Strategies
Our Harmony Club
At the end of February, I had the amazing opportunity to volunteer at Our Harmony Club. I chose to volunteer with this organization because I see some of the struggles my grandparents face as they get older. I wanted to know what organizations, like Our Harmony Club, do to help people keep living life to the fullest.
Our Harmony Club is a nonprofit organization which provides social day programs for elderly members of the community who may have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease, suffered a stroke, or who may be socially isolated. Our Harmony Club offers six hours of affordable respite care for caregivers, while their loved ones are engaged in activities.
While at Our Harmony Club, I had the opportunity to see how much work goes into preparing one of their locations (six total) and planning activities for a day with the members. Once the members have arrived, the day is full of smiles and people who are glad that you are there to interact with them. During my volunteer day, I helped members create beautiful crafts and played bocci ball and bean bag toss in teams. (You'd be surprised by how competitive those folks are!) I also got to contribute in a unique way by providing the members with some music from one of my Pandora playlists. They sang and danced to classics such as Frank Sinatra, Louie Armstrong, Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, and Dean Martin.
At the end of club, some of the other volunteers came up to me and asked if I could come back every day. They also told me that I had done a great job with one of the members I had been paired with. Apparently, that member could become very sad when coming to club because it wasn't her usual surrounding, but they said I helped her have a good day. Those compliments from the other volunteers touched my heart because I made a difference in their members' lives. I am so glad organizations like Our Harmony Club exist and can be a resource for families.
Rachel Campbell, Recruiting Business Partner
LifeForce Family Chiropractic Center
Have you checked your spine health lately? On December 1st, I spent the day volunteering for LifeForce Family Chiropractic Center in Savage, Minnesota. Since February of last year, my family has been receiving a special kind of adjustment called "torque release," which aims to correct the nerves attached to the spine. The goal of this adjustment is to get to the root of any problem in the body, and we have seen some great results, including cured ear infections, elimination of spine/neck pain, digestion improved, and reduced anxiety. Since my family has benefitted so much from our visits to this office, I wanted to spend the day helping to educate others about this revolutionary technique.
As families were busily shopping at the Burnsville mall, I held up a replica of a spinal cord and engaged in conversations about spine health with those who had time to chat. It's sad to hear the stories of so many people daily dealing with back and neck pain (often occupation related), along with various other conditions that could be improved with chiropractic care. I felt encouraged to share an opportunity to address their health issues with an alternative approach to drugs and medication. Several people were ready to take advantage of a low-cost opportunity to alleviate their painful conditions! What a joy it was to see a spark of hope in their eyes after sharing the science and the stories of recovery I came prepared to offer. I made some great new friends, and felt empowered by the experience. I encourage everyone at MRA to see a chiropractor regularly as a supplement to your primary physician's health protocols for you and your family! Best wishes for your health!
Feed My Starving Children
My daughter, Lily, and I had the opportunity to serve at Feed My Starving Children, on January 15, 2023, for a couple of hours. We were part of a small and mighty group of volunteers, packing 56 boxes, which equals 12,096 meals, and will feed 33 kids for a year! Feed My Starving Children is a Christian nonprofit organization called to feed God’s starving children, hungry in body and spirit. Their mission states: You will hear us say this again and again: “We want to reach everyone until ALL are fed." We truly mean this. This means reaching the hard-to-reach people and places, the “least of these.” They will be found, and they will be fed. With God’s help, we will work together with organizations and ministries across the globe to end hunger. Our task was to fill bags with vitamins, veggies, soy, and rice. Lily was in charge of the vitamins and veggies, and I held the bag on the funnel, as the ingredients were added and weighed. We are thankful for our varied diet! Many thanks to MRA for supporting their employees while they do community work.
Debbie Rich, Affirmative Action Business Partner Lead
I recently had the amazing opportunity to serve alongside my son, Simeon, at a "Feed My Starving Children" food pack-a-thon. Through the efforts of 1,500 volunteers, over 388,000 meals were packed over the course of a weekend at Concordia University, to be sent to third-world countries. Milwaukee's TMJ4 news team was filming during our food packing shift, so take a peek to learn more about this important organization and its mission, along with "scoop" on who receives these life-saving food packets. As my son's classmate, Andrew, says in the video, "I felt great because I just want to help." Well said, Andrew-me too!
Bernie's Book Bank
Opening the Chicago Tribune day after day and seeing more bad news about the state of downtown schools and city violence is very sad news. My son and I decided we wanted to do our part to help kids in Chicago whose families can't buy books for them. As an avid life long reader myself, I could really relate to this opportunity. So we volunteered at Bernie's Book Bank in Lake Bluff, IL, to sort and package books for underprivileged school children.
A few facts about the place: Bernie's Book Bank was started by my neighbor's brother to honor the memory of their book-loving father, Bernie. It's a large warehouse supported by many corporate donors and individual volunteers for the cause. Books are distributed to preschool-age children through the WIC program, and are distributed to school-age children through Chicago Public Schools. The Mission: Bernie's Book Bank collects, processes, and distributes new and gently used children's books to significantly increase book ownership among at-risk infants, toddlers, and school-age children throughout Chicagoland. As of March 6th, the organization has distributed almost 8 million books since 2009. They have a goal of getting 4 million books into children's hands during 2017. A sticker is added to each book's cover with a picture of Bernie and a note that says "enjoy this book and pass it on." What a wonderful legacy!
Laurie Walker, Human Resource Business Partner
St. Alphonsus Food Pantry
I volunteer at the St. Alphonsus Food Pantry in Greendale. The director resigned mid-year, so I'm co-running it with two other friends, a nurse and a social worker. We are open one day each month for food distribution and then on call for emergency needs as they come in throughout the month. The territory assigned to our food pantry is Layton down to Rawson, and 42nd Street west to 92nd. We work in conjunction with the county-wide 211 help number, that refers clients to us, in addition to other area referrals.
We do an intake process and "interview" our clients to find out their situation and needs, and make referrals to other community organizations that may provide assistance such as budgeting, job seeker help, payment plan options, medication, etc. Often, the interview process becomes an update of their current situation, and sometimes, just a shoulder to cry on and be heard.
On average, we provide food to 60-80 people on distribution day, which includes a large Pick-N-Save tote box, a bag of bread donated by Pick-N-Save, a bag of fresh food including meat and fruit from some generous monthly donors, and a miscellaneous bag of whatever we have the most of. It fills a trunk, which is intended to supplement, not be, their food source for the month.
We have about 14 volunteers from age 15 to 75, and many long term clients who all have different life stories. I took Friday off to help relocate all the pantry food, shelves, and furniture because our building is being torn down and reconstructed. It took about 10 hours to pack everything up, and with the help of more great community volunteers, about 5 hours to pack a semi and unload it at our temporary location. It is important to do our part to provide some relief where it is most needed!
Janet Kloser, Learning & Development Instructor