Does Your Company Pay You to Volunteer?
Apple employee and enthusiastic volunteer Aaron Peabody frequently joins WTA work parties. But his employer increases his impact -- they give WTA a financial donation for the hours Aaron spends with us on trail. Does yours?
Apple employee and enthusiastic volunteer Aaron Peabody frequently joins WTA work parties. But his employer increases his impact: they give WTA a financial donation for the hours Aaron spends with us on trail.
We wanted to get to know Aaron a little better, find out what prompted him to spend so much of his time and energy with us on trail, and learn how he discovered this awesome benefit from his employer.
WTA: How did you first get involved with WTA?
Aaron Peabody: When I got back into hiking after a hiatus in early 2014, I began using WTA’s website regularly to find hikes and read trip reports. A couple months later, I became a member and that’s when I started learning more about what the organization does, including working with volunteers.
Over time, knowing about WTA's work created a sense that it’s something I should be doing. But I didn’t sign up for my first work party (which was in December of 2014) until my employer started matching volunteer hours with a financial gift. That was to be the shove I needed.
Why did you keep coming back to volunteer with WTA?
That first work party proved to be an absolute blast, including getting soaked, muddy and frozen! I met some really interesting people, enjoyed the work, and found myself telling stories about the experience. The latter especially, led to me getting more involved with fostering employee volunteering at my work place, which sent me back to WTA for more.
When I began volunteering up along Highway 2 in 2015 and met Evonne Ellis, I became especially motivated to continue. What has kept me coming back more than anything, though, is how meaningful and rewarding I find the work to be.
I’ve always been an environmentalist, and this is a way that I can give back to that community and to the hiking community at the same time. I feel really good about that.
What are some of your favorite memories from volunteering with WTA?
So many! Fighting for hours in a muddy pit to cut a huge root out of the trail on my very first work party. Learning that a Forest Service shovel is the best way to debark a log. Enjoying lunch while an assistant crew leader (ACL) played Irish folk songs on a recorder.
Bringing out a group of my coworkers for the first time and watching them discovering how much fun this is. Learning how to build rock structures from the undisputed master, Pete Dewell.
Attending my first Volunteer Appreciation event. The eight days of non-stop wonder and happiness which was my first Volunteer Vacation. Earning my WTA nickname.
I could probably go on and on.
How did you find out that your workplace matched volunteer hours for donations?
This was one new benefit that rolled out in a package of benefit improvements in autumn of 2014. While many of my coworkers were most excited about increased maternity/paternity and student loan refinancing, this was the one that jumped out at me and—ultimately—led me to where I am now.
Where are you scheduled to volunteer next?
I’m on the waiting list for the Middle Fork work party on September 24, and will be bringing out another group of my coworkers to Dirty Harry’s Peak on October 7. I’m also trying to figure out if I can squeeze one more in with Evonne up on Highway 2 before she’s done for the season.
Suffice it to say I’m not planning on stopping any time soon!
Want to find out if your company offers financial donations for volunteer hours logged with WTA?
Check out the list below:
- Aetna Foundation
- Jackson Healthcare
Other companies may match your financial donation with one of their own.
Great interview Aaron! Love the picture of our Packwood Lake Volunteer Vacation. I would encourage anyone who utilizes WTAs website, and benefits from the trails, to consider doing some volunteer trail work. It's always tons of fun! I am partial to the weeklong vacations but there truly is something for everyone. You'll meet a great bunch of like-minded individuals, learn a lot, work a bit, laugh a lot and get some trail work done. It doesn't matter what your abilities are, there's always something to be done. Check it out!
LizzyRN on Sep 22, 2016 01:07 PM
Mark & Phil on Does Your Company Pay You to Volunteer?
If I contribute 50 hours in a year to a nonprofit, Verizon will make a cash donation to the nonprofit. Working on BCRTs, I have earned the $750 payment each of the last three years. The trouble is that WTA has never acknowledged any of these gifts. I had to send e-mails to see whether the payments had been received, and I was thanked when they replied. This year I was notified that WTA was paid, but unless I ask for it, WTA has never sent me an acknowledgement. Verizon provides my info with the payment. If WTA solicits these payments, they should figure out a way to acknowledge the employees that earn them, without having to be asked.
Mark & Phil on Oct 09, 2016 07:26 PM
Reply to Mark & Phil
I am so sorry for the confusion, thank you for commenting to let us know. Mark, we did receive your contribution this year and, in addition to being very grateful for it internally, we mailed you a thank you letter on September 8. We'd love to double check your mailing address, to make sure it was sent to the right place.
I must admit, though, that all of our acknowledgement systems for workplace donations aren't perfect. Many times employers will send us only emails (or sometimes even only names) for people and without the ability to verify their identity, we can't match the donor to the donation.
All that to say, please shoot me an email so we can verify your mailing address and resend your thank you letter! Thank you again for reaching out and letting us know. - Allie (firstname.lastname@example.org)
To all other generous volunteers and donors -> If you give through your place of employment, please try not to check the anonymous box if that is an option! (Unless you truly want to be anonymous.) We cannot send you a tax receipt for your contribution if we do not have your contact information. Thank you so much for donating to WTA!
ATripp on Oct 10, 2016 02:02 PM
Mark & Phil on Does Your Company Pay You to Volunteer?
I volunteered 13 days of BCRTs in April and May. I applied for the $750 Verizon grant to WTA. Well, I just received a very nice thank-you letter from Kate Neville acknowledging my gift through my employer! I'm very happy that WTA improved their systems to provide these acknowledgements. With or without acknowledements, I'll continue to earn these grants for WTA, but I have to admit that I appreciated the acknowledgement. Nice work! Thank you!
Mark & Phil on Aug 17, 2017 12:48 PM
Kate Neville on Does Your Company Pay You to Volunteer?
Hello, Mark & Phil, Kate here! Thank you so much for your dedication to trails- both as a volunteer and through workplace giving!
Kate Neville on Aug 17, 2017 01:44 PM