In light of recent events, there is a need for donations and volunteers in the Twin Cities. Like many in our communities, our Siteimprovers dropped everything to answer the call to help. I had the honor of sitting down with 3, out of the many Siteimprovers who gave their time and money to help, to hear about their involvement in helping out our community. 

Hi Darryl, Kim, and Kevin. Thank you so much for sitting down with me so we can hear about your experiences. Can you first tell us where did you volunteer and what has your experience been giving back?

Darryl: I volunteered with a few different organizations. One of the organizations was the Northside Emergency Resource Pop-up. We gave away diapers, baby formula, toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning supplies, hygiene products, food, and much more. I also join Line Of Scrimmage, which is one of the Premier Coaching & Consulting Groups in Minnesota for a community clean-up. We did grocery pick-up/drop-off and finished with the community clean-up and cookout - handing out free food to the community. Through my non-profit, we have done donation pick-ups and drop-offs at various locations throughout Minneapolis. It was a great experience to see people from all over Minnesota coming to help the Minneapolis community. Everyone was very eager to help out and do whatever was needed to finish the job.

Kim: I volunteered at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, in the Midway in the food donation and distribution area. The need and then the number of volunteers that showed up to help donate and distribute food was overwhelming. From packing Target bags with enough food and household products to last an individual a week to carrying those bags to peoples’ cars. Those hours spent working with other volunteers made me realize that I’ve never felt a part of my community more than that moment of working together to help.

Kevin: I volunteered at Blaisdell YMCA. It was a fun and an eye-opening experience. I was one of 15 Siteimprovers, along with other volunteers, who helped at a food bank. We helped unload and sort food donations.

 

What did you learn?

Darryl: Sometimes it takes a trying year and a tragic moment for people to see issues that have happened for hundreds of years. With minimum distractions, people took notice, and a lot of them want things to change.

Kim: Before volunteering, I never realized a family’s food security was so dependent on public transportation. There was a whole group of volunteers that dropped food off at people’s homes. These individuals couldn’t get to the grocery stores due to them being closed from the looting. On a funnier note, cases of water are heavy! Who needs a gym when you can help people by carrying food and water to their car? Volunteering with Kaitlyn and Laura was a really good way to connect after months of only being able to do virtual calls. I had fun just helping and being with people. Overall, after weeks of feeling isolated because of the pandemic, and not knowing how to process the tragic death of George Floyd and events thereafter, I felt a sense of community and happiness during volunteering that I hadn’t felt for some time. 

Kevin: Personally, I learned that there’s help needed in our very own communities every single day, not just following a tragedy. There are many people in our cities that don’t have food for themselves or their families. Sadly, we take a lot for granted.

 

What did you see that impacted you?

Darryl: The most significant impact for me was when I saw the businesses in the community burned or destroyed. It made me want to help even more and figure out not only how we are going to rebuild the city, but how do we build it better.

Kim: While I was waiting to grab donations from a car, I overheard a couple of guys talking next to me. They weren’t complaining about how hot it was outside (90 degrees), or that it was annoying to wear a mask. No, instead, they were discussing where they were going to volunteer after they just finished 6+ hours of volunteering at the Church. They were talking about other places that still needed volunteers that evening. I’ve always known that Minnesota is special, but I think sometimes I fail to appreciate the reasons for why it’s so special. It’s the people that make up Siteimprove, the Twin Cities, and the state of Minnesota that continue to amaze me with their generosity and support for their communities.

Kevin: Around noon that day the food bank was open for those in need. It was overwhelming to see a line form quickly. People from all ethnicities were there to pick up a meal and get food for their families. Because some of the YMCA workers knew many by their name, I’m guessing they were frequently in need of help. It felt great to be part of a large group, working together to help those in need in our community. I’m fortunate to work for an organization that grants their employees community “Give Back Days” and hope to see many other companies providing those as well. If everyone can pitch in for even a few hours throughout the year, we could impact so many lives in a huge way.

 

How did it help shape your future?

Darryl: For me, it made an immediate change and shift into what I do within my non-profit. We mostly focused on youth in the community, but we expanded to help the community as a whole. I think moving forward I would like to continue to build those relationships with the community members and offering a hand to help. This won’t be over next week or a month from now. This will take years, and it will take all of us to continue to lend a helping hand to make this community the best it can be.

Kim: I am definitely going to take advantage of all the Give Back Days that I have and will look for other ways outside of Give Back Days to get more involved with the community.

Kevin: I realized that to many, I’m privileged. I have the ability to help foster change by volunteering and by my everyday actions with people in a different position than me. I have two children and priority number one is to teach them to love everyone the same. Additionally, I’m taking it upon myself to get educated on civil rights history and systemic racism in our country. I’ve watched a few documentaries already and understand that we’ve got a long way to go. I need to be part of the solution.

Wow, thank you for giving us a glimpse of what you all saw and continue to see. We appreciate your time. Thank you to all the Siteimprovers for taking the time to help the Twin Cities. We all are extremely proud of you for stepping up and helping. If you’ve been inspired to give your time, or you’re already volunteering and want to continue, here are a few organizations our Siteimprovers found valuable:

Darryl White has been with us since March 2015 and is currently our Inbound Market Development Manager in the Minneapolis office.

Kim Vipond has been with us since April 2019 and is currently our Associate Corporate Counsel.

Kevin Breiter has been with us since September 2019 and is an Enterprise Account Executive for the Minneapolis office.