101 in 1001 #32: Lead a project at work.

Being totally honest, I'm shocked I get to check this item off my 101 in 1001 list this early both in my career with my current employer, and in my 2.75 years of 101 in 1001!

This August, I was asked to participate in my company's Employee Giving Campaign as a committee member, with a "to-be defined" role. It then evolved into serving as the entire campaign's communications coordinator and co-chair...a leading role that I find a tiny bit hilarious, given I didn't even work for my company at the time of the last Employee Giving Campaign! 

I was super excited to get to participate, and humbled by the invitation to lead--it's an honor to have been asked, being as new to the company as I am and having so little experience. While I was involved to a lesser degree with my old employer's campaign, it can't hold a candle to the all-out lengths my current company goes to to make the campaign a success. 

In my role, I got to help out with all the campaign special events, which offered great exposure to other people and parts of the company I haven't gotten to meet yet. It's so funny to me...even having been here for nearly a year, it's hilarious how "new" I still feel. Scores of people made sure to remind me of my newbie status, in the most good-natured way, when I wouldn't know who so-and-so was and, really, probably should have known. 

Traditional campaign events have always included a 5k fun run through downtown Saint Paul and along the Mississippi River, a super-intense basket raffle (this year the total worth of the baskets raffled off was $15,000!), and jeans days for Fridays from September through October. This year, I got to help spearhead the addition of two new events: a campus-wide picnic and a "Day of Caring" volunteer event on-site. The sheer effort and coordination required to work through these events for 2,100+ employees was staggering. Factors I never considered came into play; whether it was corporate restrictions on what could go in a raffle basket, liability waivers for media use at our Day of Caring, or city permits for the 5k, I got to be exposed to all of it. 

My personal favorite event was our Day of Caring. We were lucky enough to bring in Feed My Starving Children, an iconic Twin Cities non-profit focused around mitigating childhood malnutrition, to run a MobilePack event at my company's office. Feed My Starving Children packs super nutrient-dense meals and sends them to disaster relief areas and third-world countries, with over 92 cents of every dollar making its way into direct philanthropic impact. To do so, they rely heavily on volunteers to pack meals. It's such a blast to get to do the packing--we had over 300 volunteers assemble teams and pack for eight hours. While the hairnet photos and 90s jams while packing were hilarious, the impact we made in those eight hours took us from engaging in hilarity to embracing humility. Our 300 volunteers packed 41,700 meals, which will feed 110 kids for an entire year. Talk about a meaningful contribution. 

The best feeling through the insanity of campaign weeks was knowing that, in my role, I directly contributed to making the campaign the most successful one my company has fielded in memory. We raised over half a million dollars for four Twin Cities area charitable organizations through our special events and corporate pledge drive. Further, we achieved record volunteer percentages and hours logged, with over 25% of my company contributing nearly 800 total volunteer hours in two weeks.

Getting to be in charge of marshaling those people, organizing event logistics, and driving participation gave me a huge rush, beyond how good it will look on my résumé someday or how much fun it was to meet more colleagues. I've always loved doing good, and getting to lead this specific project fulfilled not only my desire to stretch myself professionally but to better myself personally. 

To check out the rest of my 101 in 1001 list, and my progress to date, head over here!