Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Job My Wife Accepted For Me

Two years ago at our annual holiday party, my general manager offered me the role of Community Council chair, overseeing Medtronic's philanthropic and volunteerism efforts in the Denver metro area for a two year period. Speechless, my mind raced through thoughts of how much time would be expected of me in this volunteer role, how I already felt stretched with other responsibilities at work, home, and in the community, and how this opportunity did not even fit in with my focus on the developing world. Embarrassed at my lack of response, my wife nudged me and jumped in with "I'm sure Ryan would love that, wouldn't you, Ryan!" I found myself agreeing, "Yes, thank you so much for the opportunity." The rest is, as they say, history.

Looking back at this past year, I'm so glad my wife accepted the Community Council role for me. I am especially grateful to have worked so closely with a group of individuals who care so much about helping others. Here are a few of the biggest highlights:

United Way Drive: In 2009, our Louisville, Colorado office raised $38K for our local United Way, including $ for $ matching from our Minneapolis-based Medtronic Foundation. Medtronic was the largest donor for our local United Way last year, which is all the more reason that our 47% increase to $56K this year was so rewarding.

Holiday Food Drive: Our 2010 food drive competition ended last Friday, December 17, and up until a few days before the judging it looked like a quiet year. I initially thought the United Way Drive had increased at the expense of the Food Drive; however, we continued to share inspiring stories with employees and to incite competition among teams. In the end, teams contributed and pledged $30K worth of food, money, and time, up from $18K the year before, for a 67% increase.

Foundation Grants: For each of the past several years, the Medtronic Foundation has entrusted our local business unit with about $50K to grant to local non-profits in the areas of health, education, and human services. Based on the strength of our grant decisions in 2010 and our pro-active identification of additional unfunded opportunities, the Foundation upped our 2011 allocation by 50% to $75,000. Rocky Mountain Youth Clinics is one of the organizations we funded in 2010 that has worked hard to develop a partnership with us.

Community Fair: About 150 of our 300+ employees came out to our Community Fair in August to meet the non-profit partners we selected earlier in the year. Our Community Council especially highlighted the Volunteer Grants program, under which employees can apply for a $500 grant from the Medtronic Foundation after completing 25 volunteer hours with a qualifying non-profit. How did we get such a good turnout? We called it the iPads and iCecream Community Fair, and attendees got gourmet ice cream and a chance to win a free iPad.

Walkathon and Bikeathon: Brain cancer and Parkinson's are two conditions that Medtronic products treat, and we had about 40 total employees participate in a walkathon and bikeathon raising awareness and funds for those conditions.

Giving Tree: In addition to our annual food drive, around the holidays we also collect toys for needy children in our community. This year we collected 60 toys.

Project 6: Medtronic's mission statement has six tenets, the sixth being "to maintain good citizenship as a company." Accordingly, during the sixth month (June) of each year, Medtronic asks every site worldwide to designate a service project as our Project 6 volunteerism project. This year about 15 employees from our facility volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, and based on employee interest that's likely to increase next year.

I had a great deal of fun working with my colleagues on activities to give back to our community. Despite my initial concerns about being overstretched, I'm very glad my wife accepted this role for me. And I'm equally glad to be passing off the baton in the new calendar year, though I plan to remain involved in a different capacity.

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