Concorde Celebrates National Volunteer Week

community service - PNG

This week is National Volunteer Week, and that makes it a highly-regarded and important week for Concorde Career College.

Volunteering in the community and making positive impacts within communities is something that is very near and dear to the mission and values of Concorde ... so much so that, this year, the company initiated Concorde Community Time, a program where employees can take up to eight hours off regular work time to go out in their communities and perform service.

"At Concorde, our commitment to community is one of the pillars of who we are, so giving our associates time to work in their communities was a natural fit," said Martin Riggs, Vice President of Human Resources at Concorde Career Colleges, Inc. "We wanted our associates to be able to invest their time with an organization that they are passionate about and that they are committed to at a personal level."

"We do a lot of work in the community as an organization, particularly in the areas of health care and dental care. This benefit allows our associates to extend their impact further into the community."

It's clear as day, written into the pillars of Concorde's Mission and Values Statement - student-centered,achievement-driven and community-based.

Points of Light

National Volunteer Week was established in 1974 and has grown exponentially each year, with thousands of volunteer projects and recognition events scheduled throughout the week. The week is about taking action and encouraging individuals and their respective communities to be at the center of social change - the collective power to make a difference.

Points of Light, which spearheads National Volunteer Week, is the world's largest organization dedicated to volunteer service. Through affiliates in 250 cities and partnerships with thousands of non-profits and corporations, it engages four million volunteers in 30 million hours of service each year.

The theme for this year's National Volunteer Week is Celebrate Service.

Getting Students Engaged

Students are encouraged to get involved in community service and grow as leaders and role models at all 16 of Concorde's campuses.

"Most of our staff and all of our students are in a healthcare-related field, and the need for local volunteers in this field has never been greater," said Valerie Kindall, Director of Student Affairs at Concorde's Kansas City campus.

Kindall pointed to a number of annual events in which Concorde-Kansas City students participate. There are food bins located on campus during holidays and food drives to collect goods for Harvesters Food Pantry, which feeds homeless and underprivileged families.

Each year, Concorde-KC sponsors "Power Walk," a charitable 5K put on by Connections to Success that helps single mothers. They co-sponsor World Aids Day with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. They host two blood drives, run by students on campus, with the American Red Cross. And, each year dental hygiene students host "Team Smile" that provides free dental care to children.

Mary Fry, Director of Student Affairs for Concorde-Memphis, said community service is a key to the Memphis campus being one of Concorde's most successful.

"When we get a student involved, it's like a bonding process," Fry said. "The success rate for completion increases. The student feels they are a vital part of the Concorde community, and we are on our way to having our student say my favorite sentence - 'This is MY school.'"

Each of the Memphis campus's programs have different volunteer projects - always suited to the students' chosen career paths - they complete each year.

"Community service has a well-rounded purpose in Memphis that starts with a student building a relationship with us, connecting with future employers and referring a friend to start the cycle again," Fry said.

At Concorde Career Institute-Jacksonville, Fla., volunteerism is approached from a team aspect.

"Recently, we volunteered to help the homeless by visiting the shelter and handing out snacks and hygiene items," said Ray Riley, Director of Student Affairs. "We also participate in community event walks to show unity and support for the cause. And, we participate in service learning projects at local elementary schools when able."

Riggs, who as a human resources professional should know such things, said having community service experience to put on a resume could prove invaluable when searching for employment.

"Many candidates use their volunteer work as a way to gain valuable experience that may not have been available to them in their current role," he said. "You can get experience leading teams and in project and event management working with some charitable organizations."

Enjoying Success

According to Riggs, the feedback on Concorde Community Time has been overwhelmingly positive.

"We have invested more than 100 hours in volunteering in the community in the first couple of months," he said. "What is really exciting is all of the new groups, such as Shadow Buddies in Kansas City and Habitat for Humanity in California, that will be hosting Concorde associates soon."

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