Jennifer Gray, Fidelity Investments‘ Senior Community Relations Manager, asked the Volunteer Fairfax Corporate Services team in early May whether they were up for a bit of a wild idea. For the past 5 years, as a member of Points of Light’s Corporate Activation Reserve Squad (CARS), Volunteer Fairfax had answered the call to manage two School Transformation Days with Fidelity Investments employees, supporting schools in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. That normally meant working with the schools to design projects making a difference on the campus while engaging roughly 400 employees every year. Projects included building, painting, and transforming classrooms to build pride and school spirit in the students and staff. Knowing this year would be different, given the COVID-19 pandemic, Jennifer floated the idea of doing this all from the comfort and, most importantly, the safety of home.
Like many others, the coronavirus pandemic turned VF and Fidelity’s plans upside down. With the first activation slated for mid-March already canceled, the team wondered how best to move forward in an ever-changing environment. Then the pivoting began. It became clear that flying to Texas was no longer an option. So how could Fidelity still make an impact at the school? Given the past year’s events, all involved knew the stakes were particularly high for Thomas Jefferson High School (TJHS) in Dallas.
On Sunday, October 20, 2019, two days after the VF and Fidelity teams completed TJHS’s Transformation Day, a tornado swept through and damaged the school to the point that the students had to be relocated to a temporary location for at least the next two years. Both the VF and Fidelity teams committed to returning to TJHS at their temporary location to make it feel more like a home away from home.
With this knowledge, the two teams knew this new virtual volunteering concept was worth trying and invited the Fidelity Employees to work on projects at home. To their astonishment, more than 165 employees and their family members signed up and quickly got to work on impactful projects. From building benches for an outdoor classroom, painting murals of the school mascot and geometric canvas artwork in school colors, to donating much-needed items, the Summer of Transformation for TJHS swung into high gear.
Several community members and groups also stepped up to assist. Local DFW muralist Ruben Orozco sketched “paint by number” murals on several canvases, as well as Alex Marshall and his team at the Home Depot in Northwest Dallas cut, bundled, organized, and delivered materials to assist with the projects. All in all, Fidelity Employees constructed 29 benches, painted over 140 canvases, and donated more than 2,000 Amazon Wishlist school supplies while maintaining socially distancing and meeting contactless drop off requirements. Although we could not participate in a typical (in-person) Transformation Day, the VF and Fidelity teams successfully adapted to ensure that TJHS students and staff were encouraged and supported during these difficult times as a new school year begins.
“Fidelity Investments’ community response to the pandemic is focused on identifying immediate and long-term opportunities to make a difference in North Texas,” said Gray. “As one example of our efforts, we mobilized to empower our employees to volunteer virtually and support students and educators at our long-time partner school Thomas Jefferson High School in Dallas during these challenging times.”
Volunteer Fairfax is experienced at crafting strong corporate-nonprofit partnerships that benefit our community through our BusinessLink program that offers volunteer program and project management support based on a company’s unique goals. Offering skills-based and team-building projects, as well as industry-specific and direct service opportunities, our comprehensive project management ensures a high impact day of service that meets employees’ expectations and furthers philanthropic goals. BusinessLink offers customized employee engagement at sites in Northern Virginia and throughout the Greater Washington DC metro region during COVID and beyond. Our team can leverage creativity to synthesize company goals to make a community impact.
Interested in learning more about our BusinessLink program? Contact Corporate Services Manager Mayjean Deem for more details. #FidelityCares2020 #FidelityAssociate #TJSTRONG