By Leah Grigsby Collins, Logbook
When the Crowley Cares Foundation, the charitable and voluntary arm of Crowley Maritime Corporation, saw food insecurity in the military family community in Jacksonville, Florida, it took action.
Food – the state of being without reliable access to a sufficient amount of nutritious and affordable food – affects millions of Americans across the country, and military families are no exception. A 2019 Military Family Advisory Network study found 12.7% of U.S. military families are defined as food insecure, and an even larger 15.3% struggle to feed himself and his family.
In response to these statistics, Crowley Cares stepped in to donate $ 25,000, through the First Coast American Heart Association, to provide groceries as well as other wellness resources to support food insecure families in Jacksonville.
Beyond donations, Crowley Cares also offered volunteer efforts, distributing meat, vegetables, baby supplies and pet food to active members in need and their families in the area.
Crowley’s Cares investment in wellness and community support, however, extends far beyond Florida. Founded in 2015 by the President and CEO of Crowley Maritime, Tom Crowley and his wife Christine Crowley, the Crowley Cares Foundation was created with two main initiatives in mind: matching charitable giving and empowering volunteer work, and finally provide a mechanism for the Crowley Corporation and its employees. to connect and give back to the communities in which Crowley serves.
When it comes to giving, Crowley Cares offers employees the opportunity to financially support charitable causes that are close to their hearts. Employees have the option of choosing a 501c3 charity of their choice to donate to, and in response, the foundation will match any donation up to $ 2,000 at 50%. Carl Fox, senior vice president of Crowley and director of the Crowley Cares Foundation, explains that there is no particular monetary amount that employees are required to pay, but that it is entirely at the discretion of the employees, knowing that Crowley will match a portion of the donation. and benefit the cause more.
This system also gives meaning and personality to charitable giving, as the foundation does not choose the causes for the employees, but rather the employees themselves choose the charities. “Giving people a choice and not pushing a certain agenda has been really beneficial,” says Fox. “You don’t want it to be something imposed on the community, but rather something that gives people the impression that they have a say and that they are the ones who are helping to make a difference. A large percentage of employees have expressed interest in using this branch of the foundation, with charities that help children, families in need, military organizations and animal welfare being some of the most popular causes. among employees.
The second branch of Crowley Cares is dedicated to volunteering. A central element of this initiative is a program that allows employees 16 hours per year to donate their time to an approved charity of their choice. During office hours, and while being paid, employees have the opportunity to choose a cause and use company time to volunteer with a corresponding charity.
Fox also describes that this initiative reflects the values of Crowley Maritime as a whole, reflecting that the company is ready to invest its resources in charitable causes that matter to both its employees and the communities in which Crowley operates. This program is currently the largest program within Crowley Cares, and has proven to be sustainable because it is particularly popular among employees.
This emphasis on volunteering comes at a poignant time – in the midst of a pandemic in which individuals and charities alike need volunteer efforts. The past year has also seen a devastating increase in climate disasters, such as the recent Hurricane Ida, in which the need for voluntary relief efforts is at an all-time high. Fox says that as such situations arise, Crowley Cares strives to establish programs to meet the changing needs of affected communities. For example, Crowley Cares recently created a site via amazon and gave people the option to buy resources and send them to people in Honduras who have had to deal with extreme flooding.
Some of the recent Crowley Cares employee volunteer initiatives include upgrading and painting orphanages, schools and homes for the aged across Central America, volunteering to raise awareness and honor past and current contributions of members of the military and maritime services, collecting and donating clothing and supplies to sailors and veterans in need, as well as providing resources for victims of abuse and those facing poverty across states United, like Clare House in Anchorage, Alaska.
In addition, a main part of Crowley Cares focuses on health and wellness. “Health and wellness are essential in our communities, and we are happy to support military families as well as the wider community with the American Heart Association and the USO in Jacksonville. The activities provide a holistic approach to healthy families and embody Crowley Cares’ commitment to our communities, ”said Fox.
Crowley Cares frequently organizes activities such as running events, for different causes, such as diabetes, or the Red Cross to name a few. On September 11, the foundation donated to the American Heart Association and participated in the Heart Walk to benefit the cause. In doing so, Crowley Cares empowers employees and their families to engage themselves in healthy practices, while also contributing to causes dedicated to the health and well-being of the community. “It’s an opportunity to rally people, to get outside, to be healthy and to be with other employees,” says Fox.
Fox further explains that the foundation is currently in a recalibration process, in which they are working to determine exactly what employees are looking to get out of the foundation and how the foundation can further meet those needs. There is currently a Crowley Cares Ambassador at each key Crowley location, and the Board of Directors meets bi-weekly to discuss the ever-evolving process to meet employee health and wellness needs. of Crowley and the communities in which the foundation aims to serve.