GIVE Day (Get Involved Volunteer Everywhere) is the corporate global volunteer day for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and is our largest employee community event. My name is Helen O’Connell, Manager of Community Relations and self-proclaimed Chairwoman of GIVE Day. There are three of us on the Community Relations team and we have the pleasure of creating and leading our annual GIVE Days, as well as ongoing employee volunteering programs and management of all corporate charitable giving globally.
The concept of GIVE Day came from our Chairman & CEO, Richard D. Fain. Seventeen years ago Richard attended a service day for his synagogue and decided this would be a great alternative to a company picnic. Not only is it a very important way for our employees to give back to our community but it serves as a terrific team-building event for the company. Every year, Adam Goldstein and other brand presidents roll up their sleeves alongside colleagues, family and friends for GIVE Day.
Selecting a project site for GIVE Day is challenging. Our goal is to ensure that our efforts will provide a long term impact to the underserved areas in our global communities, and we focus on the environment of the communities where we operate both shipboard and shore side. As you can probably imagine, creating a large scale one day event with more than 1,000 volunteers at a given site is no easy task. We have to consider basic event logistics such as volunteer parking, audio/visual needs, food and beverage, first aid and day care for the children.
This year our South Florida GIVE Day took place at Oleta River State Park, a Florida State Park on Biscayne Bay in Miami. We worked with contractors and partners weeks in advance in order to prep the site before the big day. The project improved the infrastructure of a state park that is used by the general public, underserved children in after school programs and special needs sailing camps.
We had over 2,000 volunteer hands to transform the park’s grounds. We painted 22 buildings on the site and we used over13 thousand plants, trees and shrubs to landscape surrounding areas and create a butterfly garden. We also restored gravel trails damaged by erosion, refinished a fishing pier and bridges, built a playground and removed and recycled litter from the park’s shoreline. Plans are underway for our offices around the global to execute their 2014 GIVE Day projects.
GIVE Day’s success is defined by the smiles on the faces of the volunteers as there is no match for the satisfaction we get from doing our part to make a positive impact. Our charitable partners are always so grateful for our donation and the long term impact GIVE Day has on their organization. All of our hard work was definitely worth it.
GIVE Day has also become infamous with our guests onboard. One of our valued GIVE Day contractors, Carmen Mendez, met the Frach family from Hamburg, Germany on a Celebrity cruise and she eventually shared her role in developing our corporate volunteer day. Fascinated by the concept of GIVE Day and our corporate initiative, the Frachs now make it a point to plan their travels to the US to coincide with our GIVE Day before a cruise vacation. This year marks Irma and Hubert Frachs third GIVE Day and is the first year their daughter Lena participated. Stories like this exemplify the GIVE-ing spirit.
GIVE Day is one of my favorite days of the year because joining together as one team at one location ensures we can make a huge difference in just one day. Do you participate in community clean ups or group volunteer days? Let me know in the comment field below as I am always interested in learning about other types of venues and team volunteer activities.