It’s National Volunteer Week, and we’re celebrating our employees who collectively volunteered more than 113,000 hours of service in 2014.
We’re spotlighting two Monsanto employees who received The President’s Volunteer Service Award (PVSA) this year. On Wednesday we shared the story of Frank from the Muscatine, Iowa site. Today, we’re featuring Mary of Centralia, Ill. Together, they gave more than 1,250 hours of their time for community outreach.
Mary has worked at the Monsanto site in Centralia, Ill., for 16 years. Beside her duties as a seed technician, she has served as the site’s off-the-job safety coordinator for seven years, and recently accepted a national safety lead role. Mary grew up rooted in the practice of giving to others whenever and however she can – in her words, “you never know when one small act of kindness can grow into something that will save or change someone’s life.”
Q: Which organizations do you volunteer with?
A: I have been a volunteer with the Progressive Agriculture Foundation for five years as a Safety Day Coordinator, and currently serve on the Board of Directors. I have served with my local Salvation Army for approximately five years as well, and currently sit on the advisory board.
Q: How did you start getting involved in volunteer work?
A: I have been volunteering with different organizations since the age of 13. I learned from a very young age to always do for others. In 1952, my mother was babysitting for a neighbor when the house was struck by a tornado. My mother was sucked out through the kitchen window and was found, a mile away, next to a refrigerator. She was transported to the emergency disaster shelter set up by The Salvation Army, then to a local hospital. Her home was a total loss; she had nothing. The Salvation Army brought her back to her feet by giving her clothing, food and comfort. The group had a huge impact on the entire community during that difficult time.
Q: What role has Monsanto played in enabling you to volunteer?
A: Monsanto understands my dedication to community outreach – I am allowed time to do my volunteer work. Many times, Monsanto will even provide resources, such as help from other employees, for big projects. Monsanto has donated gloves, safety glasses and hearing protection aid, in addition to sponsoring Progressive Agriculture Safety Days, the Hunter Safety Course and many other activities that help improve safety in our community. Since working at Monsanto, I have placed safety as a greater priority when beginning a new task, both at work and while volunteering.
Q: Tell us a story from your volunteer work that has had a big impact on you.
A: I was volunteering at the DuBois Center’s horse barn, when we took a group of children with special needs on short horse rides. One child was nearly blind and could only see bright lights; she had also never been around horses. Despite our concerns, it turned out to be an amazing experience! We put her on one of our light-colored horses and even though she couldn’t make out its exact features, we were blown away by her smile and the way they interacted with each other. It was as if the horse knew that she was different from the other kids.
As we walked her and the horse around the arena, the overwhelming joy in her smile was something I will never forget. When it was time to leave, her parents told me that they had not seen her smile and laugh like that in years. That one day made a difference in that little girl’s life, but it also had a huge impact on me.
Q: Why do you think it’s important to take the time to celebrate volunteers?
A: Most volunteers do what they do because they want to, not because they have to. They are usually the unsung heroes that people see but don’t notice. They are usually in the background doing the grunt work and getting things done. They aren’t there to be seen, but to do. I think that celebrating volunteers is a great way to give back to those who give so much to others.