26 Nov Giving Thanks this Holiday Season
Over the past year, we have highlighted a few of our Giving Back initiatives in this blog. This month we’re very humbled to share an interview with ReloTrans President, Frank Peditto in the Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley newsletter, a group we’ve had the pleasure of working with over the past few years. As a small team in an incredible community this is one of the key highlights of working at ReloTrans.
Profile in Giving: A conversation with Frank Peditto
In last month’s newsletter, we profiled ReloTrans, a local company whose owner and employees volunteer monthly at one of our Brown Bag Program sites. This month, we talk with the owner, Frank Peditto, and explore his decision to get involved with Elder Services.
How did you get started volunteering?
The catalyst for my volunteering was two very special people. My daughter is a speech and language pathologist. She was working with a young teenager who has autism, helping with his functional life skills, like using the telephone. So twice a week she would have him call me. It was an incredible, heartfelt feeling that something so simple could make such a huge impact on someone’s life. On those afternoons, I really looked forward to his call.
How did you and your company, ReloTrans, get connected to our Elder Brown Bag Program?
From the experience with my daughter’s client, I began to think about doing something my team at ReloTrans and I could do that would support our community and that we could feel good about doing. I spoke with my staff about this effort. I made sure they understood that whatever was decided, it was strictly a volunteer opportunity. That’s when the idea for the ReloTrans Giving Back Program was created. That ended up being the easy part. The hard part was finding the right fit. I called a handful of non-profits in the area but they weren’t interested in a long-term, team-type commitment. The assignments they wanted help with were one-time/one-day building projects or a collection drive– really just “one and done” deals. My team and I were looking for something more permanent, something we could all do together on a schedule we could be depended on to follow.
That’s when I mentioned something to my neighbor who works for Elder Services and we were finally connected to the Elder Brown Bag Program.
Besides you, who else at your company is involved?
We have a staff of 25 employees and each month five or six volunteer off the floor to help at the Horace Mann Silver Hill Charter School in Haverhill packing up 350 bags of groceries. Sometimes it can be a bit of a struggle, especially in summer which is our busiest season when staff is out, but the managers believe in the effort, step up and volunteer themselves because it helps with morale and it’s a great team-building project. Sometimes even spouses have offered to help. We are very excited each month when we arrive in our t-shirts, wearing a smile, with muscles ready to fill the bags with food because we know we are making a positive impact in an elder’s life.
How has this experience impacted you and your staff personally?
One of my favorite business quotes is from Virgin Airlines owner, Richard Branson. He said, “A business is simply an idea to make other people’s lives better. If you can make peoples’ lives better, you’ve got a really good business.”
Branson is 100 percent right. My challenge as the company owner is keeping my employees engaged, offering incentives and showing appreciation for their effort because they are your most important asset. To this end, I wanted to create a win/win experience with our volunteering. For example, the staff who volunteer on Brown Bag Day, are given the rest of the day off.
What we do at Brown Bag is truly a team effort. We love to roll up our sleeves and dive right into the assembly line. There are volunteers from other places and the staff at Elder Services who help with this effort. We’ve all developed a wonderful comradery and we complement each other’s strengths. All this adds up to being better people, a better company, a better community.
Recently we began delivering some of the bags to the Salisbury Council on Aging and interacting, in a small way, with the recipients of these bags. Reports tell us the bottom line of value would be about $6,665, if these were paid positions. However, there are no reports to describe the thankful and grateful looks of appreciation from these elders we deliver bags of food to – that bottom line is priceless!