Monthly Archives: December 2012

A Leap of Faith with Aetna’s Clinical Consulting, Strategy and Analysis Team

Build bikes in-house or venture out into the community? This was a major Aetnaquestion that one of Aetna’s employees grappled with when contemplating the development of an annual team meeting. The goal of the service portion of the team meeting was to engage a team, typically scattered across the country, in a meaningful health and wellness oriented project lasting approximately 3 hours in duration. Hands On Hartford’s Engagement team did just that for the team of 35 clinicians.
Although it was a Aetna 3wintry day complete with snow, the interior of Marshall House Salvation Army was warmed by the friendliness and enthusiasm exuding from the employee volunteers. The employee volunteers arrived exactly at 3pm and were greeted by Hands On Hartford staff and the shelter’s Director of Operations. After the orientation, the volunteers received a tour of the facility before rolling up their sleeves and delving into service.
The volunteers performed myriad projects including:
• creating health oriented murals in the pediatric room where UConn Medical students see resident children
• creating murals Aetna 2promoting physical activity in the Tiny Tots Room
• conducting three workshops on topics such as – hygiene, nutrition/vitamins and winter illnesses
• preparing hygiene gift bags for adult residents
• preparing nutritious health sacks for the children complete with illustrations Aetna 5promoting good health
• preparing a well balanced dinner consisting of – a fruit salad, green salad, kidney beans, wild rice and stuffed chicken breasts.
The exAetna 4perience was great for all involved and provided the volunteers an opportunity to connect with those in need in a meaningful way as well as learn about the issue of homelessness in the community. We certainly appreciate Aetna’s Clinical Consulting, Strategy and Analysis team taking a leap of faith with Hands On Hartford, purchasing the raw materials to make the event possible and bringing a great can-do spirit to the home of nearly 55 families.

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HOH Family Volunteer Day

Family Service day 2

Family volunteering cultivates positive values (such as caring and empathy) in children/youth and can be done by the whole family together, by one parent and one child/teen, or with extended family such as grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. When families engage in service it can ultimately lead to the mobilization of thousands of new volunteers and instill in the next generation a lifelong commitment to volunteering. On November 17th, Hands On Hartford participated in its very first Family Volunteer Day, sponsored by Disney’s Friends for Change and powered by our friends at GenerationOn (the youth arm of Points of Light). Family Volunteer Day was created 22 years ago by Points of Light and is strategically held on the Saturday before Thanksgiving to “kick-off” the holiday season with giving and service.

Family Service day 5
This event was unique because it was the first of its kind that we organized and because of the volunteer base that we drew from. Hands On Hartford reached out to its non-profit partners, who are typically the beneficiaries of our service projects and engaged them in this specially created service project at Weaver High School. A medley of groups participated in our half-day event including students/teachers from the American School for the Deaf, Wish and ML King Elementary Schools. We were also pleased to see our friends from Marshall House Salvation Army – who brought all of its families to lend a hand. Moreover, we had youth volunteers from girl & boy scouts, RISE UP (a leadership development program associated with Weaver High) and youth from a local Boys & Girls Club.
The volunteers:
• created dazzling Thanksgiving cards to be included in Hands On Hartford’s annual Turkey Boxes – boxes distributed to needy families that contain a turkey and all the fixings for a meal
• cleaned all of the doors within this massive school building
• painted the future main office of the school (including the area outside)
• painted a classroom on the first floor
• created culinary art themed murals
• painted select walls on the 2nd floor (including the cafeteria area).

Family Volunteer Day
All 93 volunteers were eager to participate in the projects and many of the volunteers were grateful for the opportunity to give back. It was wonderful to see a resident from Marshall House sit with his children and make Thanksgiving cards for the Turkey Boxes (which was distributed to our food pantry clients). He commented that he and his family have often received these types of hand outs and he knows how much the cards will mean to the person/s receiving the Turkey Boxes. It was also great to see another volunteer, who happened to be from the same shelter, take the lead directing other volunteers. This opportunity empowered not only youth, but also the disadvantaged.

Family Service day 4
Some of the volunteers even brought turkeys for our Thanksgiving Boxes. The day culminated with lunch and a youth friendly reflection. In honor of Disney and fairy tales, we decided to have a “magicwand” reflection. Each group was provided with a magic wand (chopstick) and asked how the experience was similar to granting a wish. The students loved the activity, in particular the wands and not only did they get the connection but also wished for those who are less fortunate to have many of the material things that they have.

Family Volunteer Day 3
Nine year-old Maria Shrivers shared, “I liked how we made cards for other people that go to the soup kitchen. I liked painting the walls at the high school. The last thing I liked was when we had Subway for lunch. I learned from doing this that I can be of help to others, and you should treat other people how you want to be treated.” We truly appreciate the opportunity that both Disney Friends for Change and GenerationOn afforded us, the youth and our partner agencies; it was a wonderful way to “kick-off” the season of giving.

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Aetna at the Weekend Backpack Program

Aetna NotesThe 275 children who participate in our Weekend Nutrition Program must have been pleasantly surprised when they opened their green backpacks to find the usual suspects and then some. Raisins. Pretzels. Cheese & Crackers. An extra pudding. A fruit cup. Oh my.
When Aetna’s Learning & Performance for Sales and Underwriting contacted Engagement about a team-building community service project a couple of months back, they were immediately drawn to our Backpack Program. On November 28th, nearly 30 employees arrived via school bus to South Church ready to pack 300 bags with kid-friendly foods over a 2-hour period. The company made a $3,000 donation towards the purchase of the food (2 breakfast items, 2 lunch items, snacks, drinks, etc.); this contribution afforded Hands On Hartford the ability to purchase the staple products along
with the extras.
The emploAetna Group Shotyee volunteers formed two lines on either side of the fully stocked assembly tables. At the end of the assembly line, the employees went to the note writing station to pick up inspirational hand written note-cards that their colleagues prepared to include in each child’s sack. Each volunteer had an opportunity to write cards and pack bags. The room was filled with laughs, festive music, a friendly competitive spirit and lots and lots of bags. During the project, we also took small groups down to tour the newly revamped food pantry. The volunteers were genuinely excited about the pantry and even asked great questions such as “when you get new packs of meat weekly, do you turnover thAetna Bags and Signe older content?”
The sales team finished packing the bags well within the 2 hours. They were uber efficient and energetic – one employee even commented on how much time it took him to complete a bag and wondered what the record was. After the bags were completed the team headed downstairs to a more intimate space for a reflection activity. When asked what is one word that you would use to describe today’s experience…many uttered grateful and blessed. We were also joined by two sixth grade students from Grace Academy who shared their thoughts on the Weekend Nutrition Program. They both commented that their absolute favorite food item in the bags are……you guessed it – “Goldfish.”
The reflection was two-folAetna Lined: a time to reflect and a time to celebrate as it was the birthday of two of the employees. Everyone, including the invited students were able to partake in the celebration and cake. At the end of the reflection, employees continued to ask great questions and even expressed interest in returning with their children to pack bags. The employees also collected a cash donation for the Backpack Program prior to departing. It was truly an afternoon well spent. Aetna’s Learning & Performance for Sales and Underwriting truly went above and beyond with their contribution of financial resources, man-hours and enthusiasm. Thank you Aetna for bringing smiles and much needed meals to the children we serve!

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