For the last two years, it hasn’t been hard to find Xyla Gatilao on Monday nights.
That’s because each Monday she joins a group of volunteers to shop for food, cook, serve and eat with the residents of Breakthrough Urban Ministries' transitional housing centers on Chicago’s West Side.
“One of my passions is addressing homelessness and our most vulnerable communities,” Gatilao says of why she chose Breakthrough. “We get to break bread and create community and get to know everyone’s story. It’s really rewarding.”
COVID-19 restrictions haven’t slowed Gatilao down. She and her group now pick up food from restaurants and drop it off at Breakthrough’s door.
She is just one of thousands of Health Care Service Corporation employees who volunteer in their communities at nonprofits like Breakthrough. That connection to community was one of the reasons Points of Light recognized HCSC as one of its Civic 50 honorees this year.
In fact, 8,935 HCSC employees volunteered more than 175,500 hours in their communities in 2019, benefitting hundreds of nonprofit organizations. That amount of volunteering is an economic equivalent of more than $4.4 million invested in the community.
HCSC amplifies employees’ volunteer efforts by donating $20 for every volunteer hour employees log with a community partner.
The Civic 50 award recognizes the 50 most community-minded companies that use their resources to improve the quality of life in their communities.
“We make volunteering a priority because it’s aligned with our mission and vision as an organization,” says Clarita Santos, executive director of corporate and civic partnerships at HCSC. “It’s foundational to who we are and the way we think about doing business and being connected to who we serve.”
Points of Light has named HCSC one of its Civic 50 honorees each year since 2016.
“We’re proud to be known for that type of connectedness within the community,” Santos says.
HCSC also connects to communities through financial investments, focused on making a positive impact on children and families in the communities it serves.
Healthy Kids, Healthy Families® is one way it does so. It’s an initiative that partners with local nonprofits to deliver programs related to nutrition, physical activity, preventing and managing disease and supporting safe environments.
In 2019, HKHF invested more than $7 million in outcomes-based programs — including providing more than 165,100 immunizations and distributing 4 million meals.
All of these efforts are designed to positively impact communities and keep HCSC connected to the places its members live, work and play. But employees who volunteer benefit greatly as well.
“I get more out of it than they do,” Gatilao says of the Breakthrough Ministries residents. “It’s not just a meal. I get to go and eat with what we’ve created as a family.”