Volunteering: Good Medicine for Bayer, Police, and Your Organization
Adult volunteers, including teams from nearby companies and organizations, are learning that volunteering at LifeTown is good for the soul and provides an opportunity for local engagement. In one week in early December, volunteer groups came from places as disparate as Bayer, the global pharmaceutical company, and the Livingston Police Department. The experience left everyone inspired and ready to return.
“Building a sustainable, inclusive and diverse culture is more than a commitment to our employees; it is essential to the fiber of Bayer,” said Jaya Pal, ENABLE Disability Inclusion Business Resource Group NJ Chapter Lead and Bayer Strategic Initiatives Project Leader, who helped organize the visit. “These community engagement experiences help us to create an inclusive and supportive workplace for both existing and new employees.”
For police, it’s also about gaining insight into their work. “I was thrilled to visit LifeTown with my fellow officers and interact with the students in the shops,” said Officer Joy Klapal, who coordinates community outreach programs in Livingston. “Research shows that people with special needs are more likely to have police encounters than their peers. Visiting LifeTown helps our department to become more aware and understanding and helps the students feel more at ease with the officers.”
Some of the volunteers served as “shopkeepers” in the LifeTown Shoppes area, running the pet store or activities in Ahuva’s Art Store or perhaps the flower shop. Police officers served as, well, running the intersections in the street. Other volunteers paired up with students as they explored the shops. All gained insight into the needs of people with neurodiverse thinking, and had the opportunity to provide some support.
One Bayer volunteer said she was “amazed to see the facility and all the work that went into building something to support skills development.” She added, “It was truly inspiring and humbling.”
As is often the case, the volunteers usually gain as much from the experience as the participants. “It was very rewarding to be able to help the students with disabilities feel good about themselves,” said another Bayer employee. “I enjoyed giving a little of my time to make an impact and difference in someone’s life.”
For the police, the visit was part of an ongoing series of interactions with the LifeTown community. As for Bayer, “We will definitely return to volunteer again!” said Pal.
Companies are welcome to make volunteering at LifeTown a part of their corporate community engagement! There are plenty of opportunities for daytime group volunteering experiences available. Visit www.LifeTown.com/volunteers for more information.