Making Connections in Our Communities
Supporting and celebrating our employee volunteers helps us make deep connections in the communities where we work and live.
Health Care Service Corporation’s employees have a long history of dedicating time, talent and passion to help people and organizations in their communities.
We support and encourage their service. It’s an important part of our commitment to making deep connections in the communities where we work and live.
Some 7,320 employees recorded 136,097 hours in 2018 volunteering with organizations across our five states through Blue CorpsSM, our volunteer program.
Their efforts help nonprofits and community partners address social determinants of health that often drive health disparities, which increase medical costs. Their volunteer activities, for example, help relieve hunger and improve safety and employment opportunities.
We want to continue this support and double our impact over the next three years by encouraging our employees to volunteer 1 million hours of service by 2021.
Each year, we honor a few employees whose efforts make significant and lasting contributions. Our Volunteer of the Year award celebrates employees who have shown what it means to be part of a community.
Erik Larson, Illinois
Erik works hands-on with some of Chicago’s most vulnerable youth through SLAM, a mentorship program that reaches hundreds of kids each year through team sports and other activities. SLAM is part of GRIP Outreach for Youth, which serves at-risk and fatherless teens.
Erik leads a team of about 25 other volunteer mentors. Over the years he has “walked life” with high school students from Chicago’s most underserved neighborhoods. One was a high school sophomore who was paralyzed during a South Side shooting. One was a North Lawndale teen who enlisted in the Army. Another was a student from West Humboldt Park who went on to college.
“Fear is a daily reality for many of our kids, and it is unacceptable,” says Erik. “SLAM is a refuge to hundreds of high schoolers who just want a space where they can be kids — a space free from violence, chaos and fear, where they can be connected with loving adult mentors who want so much more for them than they're getting from the streets and who will personally invest in their futures.”
Sam Allen, Montana
Sam has been volunteering for more than 20 years. He rarely says ‘no’ to an opportunity, so the list of organizations he has helped along the way is long.
They include 4-H, United Way, Habitat for Humanity and the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Hunter Education Program, the Helena Trap Club, Queen City Football Club and Helena Girls Softball Association.
Sam also has taken part in the company’s KaBOOM! playground build, which created a safe space for kids to play.
“I want the same opportunities that I had as a kid for the next generation,” Sam says. “I want my kids to experience and gain the knowledge that I had, and to build relationships. The best feeling in the world is to see the look on people's faces after helping them accomplish their goal or when a project is completed.”
Kristen Myers, New Mexico
Kristen started volunteering with the Girl Scouts of America when her daughter was young. She is still volunteering nearly 12 years later because she sees what a difference the organization makes in the girls’ lives and in the community.
“The most rewarding thing about volunteering with the Girl Scouts is seeing a girl’s face light up when she accomplishes or experiences something new,” Kristen says.
Kristen also has volunteered for the Barrett House shelter for women and children in Albuquerque. She also helped with our company’s Operation Back to School and holiday Adopt-a-Family efforts to help children and families in need at these important times of the year.
Jessica Lozano-Alvarez, Oklahoma
Jessica remembers what it was like to get help when she was a child and her family was struggling. She has been volunteering since high school because she wants to help others in need.
“I know what it’s like to lose everything, to not have food to eat or a place to stay,” Jessica says. “I give back because when my family was at its lowest point someone gave us a hand and picked us up. I want to be that hand for our community.”
Jessica volunteers for Catholic Charities, Reading Partners and New Leaf, an organization that helps people with developmental disabilities become more independent.
She is a member of Leadership Tulsa, and is also president of the Coalition of Hispanic Organizations, a group dedicated to advocacy and education for Hispanics in Tulsa. Jessica also mentors youth through Hispanic Young Professionals Entrepreneurs (HYPE).
At work, Jessica is a member of the Latinos for Advancement Business Resource Group, and she helps with the company’s participation in events with Pathways to Health, a nonprofit coalition dedicated to improving health and wellness in Tulsa.
“Volunteering is about understanding our community's needs and doing something to help,” Jessica says. “You will never understand your community unless you serve, interact and build relationships.”
Adam Quintanilla, Texas
On the weekends you’ll find Adam installing wheelchair ramps with the Boots on the Ground ministry of Beltway Park Church.
The team works to prevent harmful situations in the homes of the elderly, disabled and poor. By building ramps, Adam is restoring some freedom and mobility for people who might not be able to leave the house — or only with difficulty.
In addition to building the ramps, Adam handles the organization’s Facebook page and creates videos to help with the effort. He also volunteers for other ministries at Beltway Park Church.
Adam challenges others to find ways to improve the lives of people in their community.
“So many people need help, even with small things,” Adam says. “Yet so many people just walk by and think someone else will help them. They don’t realize that they are the ones who should help.”