2U Days of Service
This May 2U piloted the 2U Days of Service program, in which 2U employees participated in service projects in the communities surrounding our offices in Maryland, New York, Chapel Hill, Los Angeles and Hong Kong.
2U’s Community Steering Committee, which organizes service events in communities in and near our corporate offices, created 2U Days of Service to give employees the chance to give back while building team identity and morale. In the end, more than 150 employees volunteered at these organizations:
- Thrive DC
- K-9 Lifesavers
- Rural Dog Rescue
- Girls on the Run
- National Zoo
- Human Rights Campaign
- City of Bowie — Weed Warriors
- Crossroads Foundation
- Sustainable Community
- Do Good Bus
Below are just some experiences from 2Utes — the name we use to refer to our 2U team members — in their own words.
2U DAYS OF SERVICE in HONG KONG
2Ute: Katrina Rozga, International Admissions Counselor
Organization/project: Crossroads Foundation, Hong Kong, Packaging and painting
What a fantastic day to make a difference! 2U Hong Kong spent Friday, May 15, helping the amazing Crossroads Foundation with a few projects at their compound in Tuen Mun, Hong Kong. Crossroads is an organization that helps individuals in Hong Kong and elsewhere in a multitude of ways.
Crossroads started as a group of individuals hoping to help those affected by a devastating flood in Northern China and has grown into a large organization that works with groups and individuals in need all over the world. A few years after becoming an official nonprofit, Crossroads found they were receiving offers to donate different items and requests for items from countries all over the world. They began looking for a way to connect those with donations with those in need but soon realized no such thing existed. This prompted them to create a website, globalhand.org, that matches individuals and groups around the world who have something to give with those who need it. Today, Crossroads is a massive 14-acre compound that serves more than 90 countries. They not only provide donations but also employment and housing to those who need it most.
Upon arriving at Crossroads, we were greeted by the Crossroads team and shown a half-hour introductory video about the history of the organization as well as some of the amazing projects they are involved in. We were then promptly split into two groups and put to work. Kevin Paul, Frankie Herrera, Ben Posner and Nick Pitts were sent off to one of the site's loading areas. There, Ben and Frankie organized and prepared packages that were being sent off to Kenya while Nick and Kevin packed more than 175 emergency kits to be sent to those affected by the recent Nepalese earthquakes. Cathy Anderson and I, along with our special guest Julian Farmer, were sent to the other end of the site where we spent the afternoon painting one of the many apartments on the compound. The apartments are often used to house refugees from Africa and Asia, and a new family would be moving into the three-bedroom flat soon.
All team members had a fantastic time getting sweaty and their hands dirty giving back to those in need. After receiving our certificates and taking some photos, with all of us exhausted after the physical labor, it was amazing to hear all the team members agree: “We should do this again soon.”
2U DAYS OF SERVICE in WASHINGTON, D.C.
2Ute: Michael DeAugustinis
Organization/Project: Thrive DC, Prepping and cooking meals
It was a bright and early in the morning when 10 2Utes arrived in Northwest D.C. for what was possibly some of the most fulfilling volunteer service available to us Washingtonians. As you may know, homelessness and poverty is a serious issue in our country and especially in major cities where populations are more condensed. Thankfully, in cities like Washington there are some organizations that are doing an incredible job in offering assistance to these populations. One of those successful organizations, operating out of the basement of a Catholic church, has done a great job of providing stability in the lives of those it serves, and that organization is Thrive DC.
At Thrive DC, our little team of 10 was able to assist in the prepping and cooking of enough meals to feed more than 200 people for that full day of operation at Thrive DC. Some 2Utes were using their natural abilities to chat up the clients and set up the cafeteria for breakfast while others were developing our maybe-not-so-perfected skills of slicing vegetables and carving meat in the kitchen. After an hour of prep, it was everyone’s pleasure to serve a breakfast of French toast, hard-boiled eggs and bologna. During breakfast, several volunteers seized upon the chance to get to know some of the folks dining in, and I got to know our Thrive DC hosts. The diversity of the diners was astonishing and really showed the reach of homelessness and poverty. It was fun to watch some 2Utes break out their Spanish and chat with a group of Salvadorians while another person was having a conversation with a diner who held multiple master degrees.
There is no doubt in my mind that everyone felt a sense of humility that day in that cafeteria, but I also know that there was a great sense of pride among us volunteers. We were proud that we work for such an amazing company that is proactive in providing its employees with time to give back to our communities. We were proud of the capable folks within our company who took extra time out of their days to plan and organize meaningful service opportunities for their coworkers all over the world. And we will be proud when, the next time 2U plans a service event, the volunteer community opens its arms wide to welcome us in because they know that 2U is all about excellent (dare I say “white glove”) service.
Apart from the individual fulfillment that volunteer service brings, I think there is much to be said about the great sense of camaraderie the opportunity brought to a group of people that, although not having met each other prior, work for the same great company. Personally, I was able to meet people across all departments. My fellow volunteers were able to share valuable insight into my new job (at the time I was a week-old admissions counselor) and great stories about our mutual connections within the company.
2U DAYS OF SERVICE in LOS ANGELES
2Ute: Russellie Bongolan, Placement Specialist
Organization/Project: Do Good Bus at Jumpstart, Creating resource materials for children
For 2U Days of Service, 30 2Utes from the L.A. office took a short break from the ride on the rocket ship and stepped on board the Do Good Bus! The Do Good Bus is an organization with a mission to promote volunteering, community and awareness by providing fun rides to local nonprofits doing great work to improve the world around them. The rides include a Do Good Guide, fun activities and a trip to a surprise location in need of help from some friendly volunteers.
We started the day by getting on the refashioned old school bus. Our energetic Do Good Guide, Jenna, led us in playing some fun team-building games as we began our journey. After some laughs and healthy competition to get our day going, we made it to our first stop: Grand Park in the heart of downtown L.A. Jenna instructed us to hop off, grab some daisies (which she provided) and spread some goodwill and random smiles to people in the park. Of course, as 2Utes we were more than excited to put on our best white-glove-service smiles and go hand out flowers to anyone we might meet. From older women crossing the street to busy people power walking while talking on their phones, it felt amazing to see frowns become smiles and to share a “Happy Friday!” with fellow Angelinos.
“While it felt a little awkward giving a strange man a flower, it was a fun to go outside my comfort zone and make someone’s day,” said MSW Placement Specialist Peter Goetz.
Our second stop was at Jumpstart, a nonprofit just a few miles from the 2U L.A. office. Jumpstart is a national early education organization that recruits and trains volunteers to serve preschool children in low-income neighborhoods. Their proven curriculum helps children develop the language and literacy skills they need to be ready for kindergarten. The folks at Jumpstart had set up a “resource creation party” for us, where we made insect-themed graduation packets for preschoolers. We got to work laminating, cutting and crafting learning tools.
MSW Student Support Advisor John Bell said, “It took me back to my internship days at an elementary school!”
It was so much fun and such a beautiful moment realizing that we were in some small way helping children at the very beginning of their educational careers. Who knows — perhaps some of those very same students who received the cartoon bumblebees that we put together will one day receive a diploma from one of 2U’s university partners. It was a great day of helping to ensure #NoBackRow for the children of Los Angeles.
2U DAYS OF SERVICE in NORTH CAROLINA
2Ute: Kyle Cyree, Regional Administrator
Organization/Project: Partnership for a Sustainable Community, Community bocce tournament
On May 14, the Chapel Hill office helped set up and referee a community bocce tournament. The tournament was organized by the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce on behalf of their nonprofit, The Partnership for a Sustainable Community, in order to raise money for its operations. The Partnership provides leadership training to other nonprofits in the area, and the event raised several thousand dollars for Extraordinary Ventures, a local nonprofit that creates jobs for young men and women with autism and other developmental disabilities. The Partnership also prepares a “State of the Community” report, a very thorough analysis of data about Chapel Hill’s economic health, community involvement, environmental impact and social well-being.
In the morning, several of us drove over to UNC’s club to help set up. We hauled chairs and tables, set up bocce courts, hammered in stakes and posted all the signs for the event.
Fun fact: A bocce court is 13 feet wide and 91 feet long! It’s also one of the oldest sports in existence, dating back to 5200 B.C., according to a painting discovered in an Egyptian tomb. As for the United States: It’s really only been popular for the last 30 years.
In the afternoon, a couple of us drove back over to the fields to help referee. In bocce, teams score points by bowling the bocce balls closest to the pallino, a small ball that serves as the goal. Since the courts are 91 feet long, it can be very difficult to figure out which ball is closest to the pallino! We got to socialize with the bocce teams as we helped them calculate scores. The teams were all local business owners and workers, from business such as Beer Study (a craft beer store and bar) and Piedmont Health. It was great to get to know other leaders in our community as we helped the Partnership run its biggest fundraiser of the year.
For more photos visit our 2U Facebook page!
If your are interested in being a part of a future 2U Days of Service, please contact our Community Steering Committee at community(at)2U.com.