Section 3: Brightening our backyard

At Great-West Financial and Empower, we know our talented associates are our greatest asset. We encourage them to share their skills with community organizations and support their efforts by offering volunteer activities, paid volunteer time and donation-matching programs.

Last year, about 650 associates volunteered more than 5,180 hours at nonprofits and community organizations across the country. The company matched every dollar they donated, volunteered and fundraised up to $6,500 per employee. This amounted to nearly $540,000 in contributions.

The Volunteer Committee consists of associates from offices across the country. The committee engages co-workers in the community by organizing volunteer opportunities, company drives, a volunteer recognition program and teams for events.

Associate volunteer award winners

The Volunteer Awards Program recognizes associates who give their time to local organizations. The company donates $100 on behalf of each winner to the nonprofit of their choice.

Jan Ankele,

Jan volunteers 200 hours each year with Kantorei, an organization that promotes choral arts in Denver. Jan is a founding member and spends time each week rehearsing, conducting and fundraising on its behalf. She also works one-on-one with students to help them prepare for auditions.

Shelley Baker,

Shelley helps Colorado’s homeless youth through Urban Peak. For five years, she’s led a group of co-workers in serving a monthly meal to these young people. She also organizes a holiday drive for the youth at the shelter and recruits associates to help.

Damian Bulf,
Senior Data Administrator

Damian volunteers at Junior Achievement Finance Park. He also helps with Extreme Community Makeover. He also volunteered with Extreme Community Makeover and Empower to work alongside underserved individuals to improve their homes and neighborhoods. Damian is active in the company’s American Heart Association programs as well.

Kevin Cahn,
401(k) Account Manager

Kevin has volunteered with Mount Saint Vincent Home, a residential treatment center for children ages 5 to 12, for more than a decade. As one of the few constant adults in the lives of these children, Kevin serves as a positive adult role model, reading to the kids, playing games and helping with daily routines.

Brian LaCarrubba,
Senior Business Process Analyst

Brian supports The Park People. This organization focuses on preserving, enhancing and advocating for Denver’s parks and open spaces. He uses his technology skills to help the group strengthen its technology resources. He also volunteers as a tree planter.

Jennifer Lees,
Manager Client Services

Jennifer and 11 women spent about a week in Guatemala lending their physical strength, finances and resources to building two homes for underprivileged citizens through the nonprofit From Houses to Homes. At home, she’s a volunteer coach for her son’s soccer team and helps organize vacation Bible school at her church.

Tracey Murphy,
Implementation Analyst

Tracey is passionate about animals and volunteers with Lifeline Puppy Rescue. She helps with puppy adoptions, cashiering, kennel cleaning, and watering and feeding the puppies. She also fosters sick puppies until they are healthy enough for adoption.

Elizabeth Whitaker,
Product and Fund Reporting Project Leader

Elizabeth volunteers at the Arapahoe County Residential Center (ACRC) and the Children’s Hospital of Denver Blood Donor Center. At ACRC, Elizabeth works with female offenders re-entering society. She hopes her actions help these women know they matter and believe they can become fruitful members of their communities. As a Children’s Hospital volunteer for more than 13 years, Elizabeth donates platelets every other week for children undergoing cancer treatments.

Tonja Petticrew,
Pricing Analyst

Tonja strives to make a difference in the lives of individuals impacted by cancer by volunteering with the Love Hope Strength Foundation. She volunteers about 250 hours each year with the group. She also helps save lives by registering thousands of concertgoers to become bone marrow donors.

Shaffner Reed,
Account Coordinator

Shaffner has volunteered with Colorado Connect for more than 10 years. The organization helps at-risk youth become good studentathletes through sports. He coaches and mentors a young men’s traveling basketball team. Shaffner also coordinates fundraisers like the Christmas Food Basket Program. He volunteers with the Lions Club Back to School Giveaway as well and serves as the company’s team captain for the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk.

Raquel Smith,
Assistant Manager Plan Conversions

Raquel has been a Big Sister through Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Colorado for several years. She meets with her little sister, Annie, twice a month and works hard to make their conversations meaningful and educational. Raquel believes knowledge is power, and she wants to provide Annie with an example of what it means to be a strong female.

Deahna Visscher,
SAP Implementation Support Analyst

Deahna was a team captain and top fundraiser for the 2014 American Heart Association Heart Walk. Her passion for the event comes from a personal hardship she experienced when her 11-day-old son, Grant, passed away in 2008. Born with a heart defect, he had open-heart surgery. Deahna turned her hardship into hope for others. This year she raised nearly $3,800 and her team of 25 members reached a fundraising total of $4,290. Deahna also volunteers with the Patient Safety Committee at Children’s Hospital of Aurora and with The NOVEL Project, which seeks to create a gold standard nationwide for inserting feeding tubes.

Notes from the field

Great-West Financial and Empower associates serve our customers through offices across the country. These associates also serve local communities nationwide through volunteerism and financial contributions.

Overland Park, Kansas

For more than 20 years, Overland Park associates have supported Operation Breakthrough, one of the largest single-site early education child care and social services facilities in Missouri. In 2014, the company pledged $20,000 to help children living in poverty develop to their fullest potential. Associates also organized drives, volunteer activities and holiday parties.

For nearly 10 years, this office has participated in the Kansas City Corporate Challenge benefiting Special Olympics. In 2014, more than 200 of our associates competed in this Olympic-type event that allows local professionals to go head-tohead in a variety of sporting events.

Overland Park associates spread holiday cheer by donating 100 gifts to the Operation Breakthrough holiday store, a store where parents can shop free of charge to acquire holiday gifts for their children. The team also adopted six Operation Breakthrough families and their 19 children and provided a holiday dinner for each family and gifts for each child.

No tricks, just treats! Associates hosted lunch, treats and games for about 30 children at Operation Breakthrough’s annual Halloween party.

Andover, Massachusetts

Andover associates helped 60 families with items such as towels, dishes, clothing and toys through a holiday drive for Lazarus House, an organization that helps individuals living in poverty to regain their dignity and become self-sufficient members of the community. Associates picked ornament cards from a Giving Tree. Each card listed requests from the families, and the office’s volunteer committee delivered the gifts to Lazarus House.

Glendale, Wisconsin

The Glendale team loves to collect items for those in need. In 2014, the team collected almost 75 hats, mittens and scarves for the Milwaukee Rescue Mission; more than 3,800 pounds of food for the Hunger Task Force Food Drive; over 175 binders for Journey House; and holiday gifts for 125 children through Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Community Services.

Somerset, New Jersey

Somerset associates kicked off the company’s annual Employee Giving Campaign last fall with an ice cream social and a $100 charitable donation giveaway to an employee’s charity of choice. Maria Alexander, account coordinator, won the drawing and donated $100 to Hosea Feed the Hungry and Homeless.