National Volunteer Week: Companies giving back in their communities is good for everyone

Dec 19 2017, 10:15 am

According to the book, Corporate Karma, “the most successful companies worldwide are driven by a purpose and mission that go well beyond their balance sheet.” Fast Company agrees that “doing good can be good for the company,” and that “volunteering builds soft skills in your team, while they help build community around them.” Fast Company says 70 per cent of Fortune 500 companies offer paid-release-time through volunteer programs.”

This week is National Volunteer Week and Union Gospel Mission is pausing to recognizing the time and effort of the 6,000 volunteers that work with them each year—and especially companies like the ones mentioned in Fast Company. Bentall Kennedy, a prominent Vancouver real estate company is one of those special businesses. They have been faithfully volunteering at UGM for over four years. Every two weeks, Bentall Kennedy employees can be found helping out in UGM’s kitchen, thrift store, and cornerstone, fostering positive personal connections with UGM community members and staff.


The symbiotic relationship is evident in its popularity. While corporate values at Bentall Kennedy encourage the experience, their employees are more than willing to participate. “The sign-up sheet for volunteering goes out in December of each year,” said Malcolm Leitch, Bentall Kennedy’s COO for Investment Management, “if you don’t sign up early, then you don’t get a slot.”

A volunteer grills the meat

Bentall Kennedy values the personal interactions with UGM staff and guests and encourages community. “As a big Vancouver company you can always send out cheques, but it is also meaningful to donate time to a local charity,” said Leitch who not only volunteers through work, but also with his family.

Bentall Volunteers March 27 2014 (3)

Many Bentall Kennedy employees are frequent volunteers. Nisha Agrawal, a long-time staffer has participated in the project since its pilot phase. She loves that she can give back through work. “Volunteering has been totally fun each time,” she said. “The staff know how to run their ship and it makes the volunteer experience stress-free and really very positive. You feel like you are making a real contribution and not just getting in their way.”


By serving within the UGM community, Bentall Kennedy employees see firsthand how beneficial one meal can be in someone’s life. “A fellow came up to us and started telling us about how happy he was that UGM was in his neighbourhood so he had a place to get a good meal and meet some new people,” Agrawal said. “It was a great reminder for me to realize how something as simple as a warm meal can change the outcome of someone’s day.  It’s truly very inspiring.”

All week UGM has been recognizing (via social media) some faithful volunteer partnership with local businesses—Telus, Polygon Homes, Concert Properties, and Target. UGM’s most frequent volunteers will receive a special reusable UGM sac as a token of gratitude an appreciation event.

Union Gospel Mission has been feeding hope and changing the lives of men, women and children for over 70 years. Through its seven locations in Metro Vancouver, UGM provides counseling, education, safe housing and alcohol and drug recovery to those struggling with poverty, homelessness and addiction. The heart of the mission is to demonstrate God’s transforming love, ease the burden of the most vulnerable, rebuild the lives of the broken and offer dignity to those who feel cast aside. To find out more, visit

DH Vancouver StaffDH Vancouver Staff

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