Well Beyond Work: Community Engagement
By Robin Hendrickson | Published January 25, 2021
As we continue our OH&S Well Beyond Work blog series, this month will be on the benefits of being connected in our communities, as an individual and as a collective group. Many people have advocated that to achieve a life of well-being, individuals will strive to attain a state of being healthy, happy, and having a sense of purpose. Well-being has been described by many as an awareness and understanding of the importance of several key life experiences, and the choices we make can influence our state of well-being including physical health, mental, emotional, financial, career, intellectual, and this month’s topic: community.
What is community?
Wikipedia defines community as a social group with commonality such as norms, religion, values, customs, or identity. Communities may share a sense of place situated in a given geographical area (e.g., a country, village, town, or neighborhood) or in virtual space through communication platforms.
For individuals, a sense of community can create:
A affording communication and support.
Safe spaces to influence change by sharing your voice on issues that you have a personal interest.
to work together to learn, respect and acceptance of others’ wisdom, life experiences and opinion.
and healthy local and global communities.
Realizing and fulfilling a personal driven purpose in life.
As I started writing this blog, I was inspired by the Obama Foundation, a non-profit organization founded in 2014 by former President and First Lady Barack and Michelle Obama. The foundation’s mission is to “Inspire, Empower and Connect people to change their world” through local and global community outreach programs. A few examples of these programs are focused on building community leadership, empowering adolescent girls around the world through education and marshaling mentors for young boys and men of color. One of the key messages on the website encourages people to make their community stronger and more resilient by volunteering, citing: “Studies have shown that volunteering is a predictor of better mental and physical health, self-esteem and happiness on an individual level as well”.
At Newfront, we are just as passionate about community as we are about our professional service. We encourage our team to be actively involved in community and charity groups closest to their hearts – as donors, volunteers, and leaders. Throughout the year, Newfront hosts fundraisers and events for the American Cancer Society and through the Learning Without Limits program, an educational program we host in partnership with the Golden State Warriors, as well as participating in a wide array of smaller wellness and citizenship initiatives.
Additionally, Newfront supports a variety of voluntary, employee- led committees and employee resource groups, that align with our company’s dedication and culture of a diverse, inclusive, empathetic, and healthy organization that our employees are proud to be part of including:
Committees: Wellness/Balance, Employee Safety, Toastmasters, Giving, Fun and DEI council
Employee Resource Groups: Black at Newfront, Newher, and Working Remotely
During the pandemic, shelter-in-place orders have restricted in-person gatherings and, as a result, I have witnessed how my own community, and local neighbors are craving for any type of human interaction. I have been taking early morning walks in my neighborhood for years and occasionally would get a ‘hello’ from a passerby. Now, with a significant number of people walking or taking their children to the local park, adorned with our masks, hats and sometimes gloves on, I get an overwhelming number of hand waves, a cheery ‘good morning’ and small chats with people I have never met, especially elderly adults living alone. This small gesture of being connected and knowing we all experience a collective spirit of fellowship motivated me to extend my human connections amongst a broader group in my community by volunteering at the local food bank. Even during these troubling times of the pandemic, I have regenerated a fresh sense of community which has boosted my overall well-being.
As I wrote this blog, knowing it would be posted by February – a month many people around the world celebrate Valentine’s Day, I thought what a perfect time to support our communities by spreading acts of kindness to those in need as well as appreciation to our courageous front line essential workers. Have fun and be creative on ideas that are thoughtful and simple, such as writing a thank you note to your local grocery, postal, healthcare, food delivery workers, police, and firefighters, checking in on elderly people living alone who may need help with getting food, cleaning up a local park that has been neglected as well as exploring how to volunteer in your community, including many virtual volunteer opportunities. Your actions and engagement of compassionate human connections can support a key foundation of our well-being.
As Newfront’s Occupational Health & Safety practice leader, Robin leads a team of experienced workers’ compensation claims management, wellness initiative, and loss mitigation and strategy consultants. Robin, and her team, work with employers to reduce occupational risk exposures, implementing best practices to control claim costs, and keeping employees safe, healthy, and productive.