In February, B Local PDX held the 1st Annual B Corp Day of Service where local B Corp businesses were encouraged to take part in giving back to their community. The Day of Service reinforced the idea of using business as a force for good by utilizing each company’s paid volunteer time to pour back into our communities. It created an opportunity for businesses to be the hands and feet in making a positive change for people within their community while helping local organizations get more support and recognition. B Local PDX noticed that the Portland area has a high concentration of B Corp businesses. They decided that rather than working separately towards a cause, local B Corps could join together to create an even stronger impact. The results of the collaboration between local B Corp businesses that participated in the B Corp Day of Service were tremendous. B Local PDX coordinated 16 local nonprofits with 23 different volunteering opportunities. Feynman Group employees had the pleasure of volunteering at four of these locations during the B Corp Day of Service.
Project Lemonade is a retail store operating out of Lloyd Center Mall that annually provides free clothing to foster children. They offer summer internships to these foster children as a means of gaining work experience while supporting their peers.
The clothing items at the store are either purchased or donated, but their goal is to provide new items for these children to enjoy. On the Day of Service, Project Lemonade volunteers helped by sorting clothing, tagging and organizing shoes, and managing inventory. Madisen, who volunteered with Project Lemonade stated, “it was amazing to hear the experiences of an employee who had been working with the organization for years and to recognize that this nonprofit successfully functions on almost purely volunteer help”. Many children that are placed into the foster care system don’t have much besides the clothes on their back, so the opportunity to shop at a store where the items are free is an incredible experience for these children.
Javier attended the beach cleanup at Audrey McCall Beach with Human Access Project. Human Access Project is a group dedicated to the conservation of the Willamette River. Hosting ‘The Big Float’ since 2010 to raise awareness, the Human Access Project’s mission is to transform Portland’s relationship with the Willamette River. The February weather could have not been better for the volunteers cleaning up litter from the popular Portland swimming spot.
Javier enjoyed removing plastic with fellow participating companies, including Scout Books and Permanente Dental Associates. Volunteers were equipped with gloves, grabbers, and bags to pick up litter up and down the beach where there are many items adulterating the area, such as needles. After spending a few hours cleaning up, Javier shared, “think about how much we could accomplish as a community if we stopped being selfish and dedicated a bit of time a month towards a bigger cause,” realizing the positive impacts that small investments of regular volunteer work can produce.
In the Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood, Alex helped clean and fix youth bicycles for The Street Trust, a nonprofit organization based in Northwest Portland.
The Street Trust teaches local kids that do not have access to transportation, how to ride bikes safely. This provides them with the freedom to get around independently and with the correct knowledge to do so. Ten percent of the students they receive have never ridden a bike before; The Street Trust’s program encourages and advocates for safe walking and biking. The volunteers spent their shift repairing the bikes that the organization uses for their program; checking tire pressure, brake function, gear function, and other mechanical needs. After his day of volunteering, Alex proudly noted, “we were able to prepare 50 bikes for the organization, which is the most they have ever received done in a day.”
Justine volunteered at Urban Gleaners in the SE Industrial neighborhood. Joining fellow B Corp volunteers from New Seasons and Scout Books, she helped repackage food donated by various local restaurants, corporate campuses, such as Nike World Headquarters and grocery stores like New Seasons. These meals were repackaged into well portioned, nutritional meals for low-income families.
Not only does Urban Gleaners provide fresh and healthy food for local low-income families, but they also allow people who are hungry to eat without having to show proof of low-income status. After her experience volunteering at Urban Gleaners and learning about the intentional support they provide, Justine stated, “I would like to volunteer at Urban Gleaners on a regular basis – I had a great time sorting and reapportioning fresh, high-quality food for people who are hungry that would otherwise go to waste. It was a friendly, welcoming volunteer environment and the people who run this organization are wonderful.” Nonprofits such as Urban Gleaners, not only see a need but they find solutions to fulfill that need in ways other resources might overlook.
After the B Corp Day of Service, a celebratory party was held at Shine Distillery & Grill where the volunteers collectively gathered. Participants enjoyed complimentary drinks supplied by B Corps, Sufferfest Beer and Brew Dr. Kombucha, and dinner from local food carts. It was an exciting time for everyone to greet the familiar faces of those they had been volunteering with that day and sponsoring businesses that came together to support their shared community.
As a group, B Corp Day of Service volunteers contributed 1,256 hours with 314 registered volunteers and an economic impact total of $31,261. This is an example of how B Corps are mindfully directing their collective power towards leaving a positive thumbprint on society. February 21st was the first of many B Corp Day of Service events to come, with the goal of expanding and bringing together other businesses in the Northwest region who desire to join the B Corp movement of using business as a force for good.