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By Denise Brodey
| December 6, 2017
Joshua Messenger grew up in Melrose surrounded by sports. His father helped manage the basketball, soccer and baseball leagues while his mom ran the food stand. Today, Messenger carries on that family spirit, coaching his daughters, 7 and 5, in basketball and soccer leagues. “Coaching is a family tradition that I truly enjoy,” says Messenger, “but I think I get more than I give, like the days when my daughter gets shy and wants to hold my hand on the soccer field.”
Yes, Messenger’s enthusiasm for volunteering is rooted in his childhood. But it’s also embraced and encouraged by his employer, Eastern Insurance, where Messenger, an assistant vice president, has plenty of colleagues who share his volunteer spirit.
Megan Donnell volunteers for the MAGIC Foundation, a non-profit that supports families of children afflicted with chronic or critical disorders, syndromes and diseases. Brian Bolduc challenged himself to lose 80 pounds so he could donate one of his kidneys to save his mother’s life. Michael Uretsky volunteers for veterans’ support and networking groups. Christina Sheehan has run the Boston Marathon twice, raising thousands of dollars for charity. And Traci Maslanka, like Messenger, is a passionate youth sports volunteer.
“The collaborative teamwork that we foster in this firm brings the best to our customers,” says Hope Aldrich, president and CEO of Eastern Insurance, one of the largest independent insurance agencies in the state. “Because we are a mutual company, we can take a longer view of our objectives and that affords us the opportunity to invest in people and systems and things that make the business effective. Our focus is on our customers, our community and our employees.”
Why volunteerism matters to employers
Eastern Insurance, a wholly owned subsidiary of Eastern Bank, joins its parent’s Join Us For Good campaign. Their collective purpose; to do good things to help people prosper, every day. Volunteerism is one way that happens.
Eastern Bank and Eastern Insurance employees combined served more than 50,000 volunteer hours in 2016. Employees are encouraged to track the time they spend volunteering, some of it even during the workday as a team-building exercise.
That approach to volunteerism is grounded in a belief that research supports. Volunteering is seen as an active way of practicing gratitude, which has been scientifically shown to promote mental wellness. Researcher Richard Emmons of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, says that “doing” — as opposed to writing a check or simply ‘liking’ something on social media — is one of four key ways to show gratitude.
Under Eastern Bank’s Join Us for Good movement, bank and insurance employees have helped on a variety of projects, from staining decks at group residential homes through Arc of the South Shore to making superhero capes and masks for children in the pediatric unit at UMass Memorial Medical Center through a partnership with Boston Cares, and much more.
Showing gratitude to your community through volunteering manpower isn’t an easy concept for many employers to embrace. But Messenger says, “Eastern Insurance makes it easy for people to volunteer.”
Employees benefit too
More employees volunteering, in the view of Eastern’s approach, means happier employees and a company more invested in its community. For example, by volunteering to help victims of a tornado, or a devastating fire, or flooding, all of which New England has experienced in the recent past, you are acknowledging the incredible challenges people face, but still setting a positive example that shows how recovery is possible, and that every individual can make a difference.
Another benefit is that helping others, according to a British 2016 study of volunteers, has a direct correlation with better mental well-being, lifting self-esteem and reducing the feeling of isolationism. All of this, paired with the demand for volunteers from non-profit organizations, is a win-win for companies and their employees during the stressful holiday season.
Even if volunteering, like coaching a soccer team of 7-year-old girls, isn’t exactly stress-free.
Messenger, a single father, chuckles as he describes his coaching effort as more like an exercise in ‘controlled chaos.’ But he takes it seriously, explaining his belief that he deeply values how teams build neighborhood friendships and teach kids how to be team players.
“The big win for me,” he says, “is being able to spend that much quality time with my family and my community.
To learn more about how Eastern Insurance Group LLC embodies the Join Us For Good brand, click here.
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