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Making a Difference: Building a House with Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity

I admit it—I am not a morning person. Happiness for me is being able to sleep in on the weekends. So, as my alarm began blaring at me at 6:00 AM on a Saturday morning, it was hard not to wake up feeling a bit grumpy. As I strapped on my boots and put on my volunteer T-shirt emblazoned with the big UPS shield across the back, my grogginess and irritation quickly shifted to pride and enthusiasm (caffeine helped too). Why? Because I knew I wasn’t just giving up some sleep on a weekend; I was going to help make a difference in someone’s life.

That morning I was assisting at the UPS sponsored Habitat for Humanity house build. As the sole sponsor of a new house for the Jacinto family in Woodstock, GA, various UPS departments had been helping with the build each weekend. My department was tasked with painting the interior of the house.

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Still Rebuilding, Seven Years After Katrina
St Bernard Project

I had originally written a story about post-Katrina New Orleans to be posted on the anniversary of the storm. But, like everyone from the Crescent City, my plans were delayed by Isaac. Now that the most recent storm has passed, I think it is even more apropos to focus on people who refuse to let their city wash away.

I had never heard of the St. Bernard Project (SBP) before the day I arrived at a home full of UPSers hanging drywall and rolling paint. It was Global Volunteer Month five years after hurricane Katrina, and my first time back to New Orleans since the devastation. I remember how shocked I was to see neighborhoods still abandoned and houses still marked with spray paint from the search and rescue teams.

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What is it Like to Make a Difference?
Backpack in the Park

When I attended high school in Russia, we had a Peace Corps volunteer (named Todd) from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He taught English as a foreign language and worked in after-school programs. Todd made a difference in my life; he inspired me to experience what it is like to be a volunteer. Giving back to our community and knowing that we make a difference in someone’s life is an awesome feeling. We are not only helping our community grow stronger, but we are also helping ourselves become stronger.

I always did volunteer work; no matter where I lived in the world. In Russia, I volunteered at local orphanages. In China, I taught English and Russian in kindergarten. In Florida, I volunteered for Junior Achievement, United Way, American Heart Association, IABC and other organizations. When I started my career at UPS, I joined the newly created Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) & Allies Business Resource Group. Being a member of the group has opened a new window of volunteer opportunities for me.

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At 75-Years-Young, UPSer and Marathoner ‘Miss Mary’ Exercises for the Health of It
Mary Hansford

Mary Hansford is a walking example of motivation. She has worked at UPS for 15 years, had an entire previous career as a Certified Nurse’s Assistant before retiring and run the New York City Marathon — all by the young age of 75, or going on 76 as she proudly points out.

Miss Mary, who works at UPS’s Worldport global air hub, started her career at UPS as seasonal help in 1996 to earn a few extra dollars. Close to 15 years later, she is still at it, attributing her ability to keep at it to years of healthy living, running marathons and the sheer desire to stay active. She has no plans to retire any time soon. “I’ll know when it’s time to retire, and that time isn’t here yet,” she said.

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Jim Casey’s Legacy: UPSers are Everyday Heroes

This month, UPS celebrates 104 years of business. Our founder, Jim Casey, instilled in UPSers a spirit of service to our customers and our community. While Jim may not have regarded himself as a “hero,” his commitment to community service has delivered a lasting impact. Jim and his siblings founded the Annie E. Casey Foundation (AECF) in 1948 to honor their mother, who struggled to raise the family as a young widow. The AECF serves as an advocate to help vulnerable children and families succeed.

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UPSers set Volunteer Record in the Fight Against Poverty

A few weeks ago more than 750 UPS employees laced up their sneakers and hit the field at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California. They joined 2,400 other runners and walkers during the third annual Walk United to help fight poverty. UPS was a Home Run Champion for the event that raised about $150,000 for food, medical care and shelter for families in need.

George Willis, president of the South California district, received the award for having the most volunteers at the event – a few UPS employees even made the trip from Las Vegas to participate.

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UPS Partners with Merck Director to Deliver Needed Allergen-Free Food to Japan

In April, Merck Director Tai Eto reached out to UPS Customer Solutions to ship allergen-free products for children to Japan. Tai and his wife, originally from Japan, are the parents of a child with extreme food allergies and they thought this was a cause worth supporting. Tai’s wife, Rimi, had gained support from both people and companies across the U.S. to help kids and adults with food allergies who had been suffering after the earthquake and tsunami. Together, Tai and Rimi worked with different manufacturers across the U.S. to collect donations of allergen-free food and were seeking to close the loop with the final transportation component. 

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Hands Across California

UPS employees join hands with community leaders, politicians and celebrities in support of higher education.

Recently, Hands Across California approached UPS with a unique logistical challenge: help them connect a human-line of nearly two million people across a 1,500-mile route using UPS package cars as gathering points for volunteers. In addition, Hands Across California organizers asked if UPS employees would volunteer on the day of the event to ensure the human-line was realized.

From Sacramento to San Diego, and everywhere in between, UPS employees and their families volunteered to either drive package cars or hold hands as part of the line. “I’m here because two of my kids are getting ready to attend community college,” said UPS HR Representative Maura Pina. “It helps us out financially and allows them to get their core classes done before transferring to a four-year college.”

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The Muramatsu Diaries

On March 11, a record 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck near the Japanese city of Sendai. The quake had an epicenter just off the east coast, which spawned a 32-foot tsunami that surged a quarter of a mile inland, instantly killing thousands of people. The earthquake also damaged nuclear power plants, causing a third emergency with a partial nuclear meltdown and a widespread radiation scare. Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan described the aftermath of the quake as Japan’s worst crisis since World War II.

The Logistics Emergency Team (LET), a partnership between UPS, Agility, TNT and Maersk was deployed to provide logistics support to aid humanitarian relief efforts. I work as a Supply Chain Solutions Ocean Import Supervisor and as the UPS LET coordinator. Here is my journal.

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Logistics and Disaster Relief: How to Help (and Not Hurt) Relief Efforts When You Donate or Volunteer

I just returned from the annual meeting of the National Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD) in Kansas City, just hours from Joplin, Missouri. The outpouring of support from the public has been unbelievable. But based on feedback I heard from first responders at the meeting, unsolicited donations of water, clothes and other items have significantly challenged relief efforts. One relief organization told me they have thousands of cases of water in their warehouse. The AP highlighted this issue in a story about junk donations creating problems for relief agencies helping tornado victims in Alabama.

In my role with The UPS Foundation, I receive hundreds of calls asking for UPS to ship unsolicited goods. The challenge is that these donations don’t meet the needs of the relief agencies that are helping victims. UPS does not transport collected items from unsolicited donors for relief efforts. Instead, we’ve established in-kind agreements with relief organizations like the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, CARE, UNICEF, the World Food Programme and the Aidmatrix Network. Our goal is provide logistics support to deliver the right items to the right place at the right time.

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