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SM Foundation and its volunteer programs

The volunteerism spirit is very high among the diversified SM Group of Companies be it for church-based activities, Brigada Eskwela for school repairs, disaster relief and response and livelihood programs.

The volunteers do not use up company time and must do their volunteer work against their official leaves (sick and vacation) so as not to disrupt operations of their respective offices. Some, if not all, donate their own resources during visits to the poor and sick, the elderly, the orphans, cancer-stricken children and other worthy causes.

Vital to the volunteer program are the human resource officials and religious heads groups (for the religious activities) who trickle down the scheduled operation or activity to the personnel who would like to volunteer their time and resources to such a planned activity.

And during volunteer work, everyone—the lowliest employee to the top manager (of up to the vice president level) is made to wear the same T-shirt or uniform and share the same packed meals (snacks, lunch and breakfast).

The natural result of such togetherness during a volunteer work is that the lowliest employee, who usually does not get a chance to talk to the ‘big bosses,’ establishes a rapport between employee & their peer group or manager  and rapport is carried on even in the offices long after the activity is over, said Juris Umali, in charge of SM Foundation Inc. school building and repairs program and is on top of the collaboration of SM Group’s involvement in the annual Brigada Eskwela program of the Department of Education.

“It is heartwarming to see the volunteers (superiors and ordinary employee alike) flex their muscles in repairing school chairs, repainting walls, cleaning toilets and sinks and doing carpentry work which they normally don’t do at their homes,” Umali said.

Umali explained, however, that the SM Group gets to pick which schools to repair and repaint in a given year. Schools usually write directly to the Foundation for repairs.

Mel Elido, CEO of the  Felicidad Sy Foundation’s (FSF) said volunteerism is particularly touching when employees and officers of SM Group buy their own gifts or items to share with the people they are visiting say, on Christmas, for gift giving and relief goods for those stricken by typhoons and natural disasters.

Needless to say, the SM Group’s volunteers (including those mobilized by the BDO Foundation) are also the first to respond to natural disasters and tragedies (like fires in blighted communities) to give relief goods and whatever else is needed by the occasion.

The volunteers are also on hand during the twice- yearly recollections of FSF and serve as lectors/commentators, servers and mother butlers (those that check on everything needed before a mass) for spiritual functions at the churches built by the SM Group, Elido said.

For education, the volunteers interview and personally visit the homes of potential scholars nationwide before a school-year begins.  The Foundation makes home visits to gauge if the scholars are truly deserving of the grant.

For the livelihood programs, particularly the rural and urban farming training modules, the employees help train the farmer-scholars understand what is taught them; till the soil with them and harvest the produce. They also monitor the progress and sustainability of the training program, if the scholars are able to teach their peers for the continuity of KSK.

During the monthly medical-dental missions, volunteers are involved in processing and documenting the beneficiaries of such missions and help as well in data gathering for the smooth flow of each diagnostic stage during such missions.

SM employees also donate blood for the blood banking of SM Group—which would be given first to employees and their dependents and occasionally to those outside the SM Group that are in dire need of blood.

In the SM Group, hope springs eternal.

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