A new university program will allow full-time employees to take one full-paid day each year and use it to give back to their communities by volunteering at schools and not-for-profit organizations.
NIU President Dr. Lisa Freeman first announced the program during her State of the University address in October, and employees can take advantage of the program beginning Jan. 1, 2020.
“Huskies are a community who care, and we want to foster that as a university,” Dr. Freeman said. “We know that many of our employees already actively volunteer and this is a way for us to support both them and the causes they are passionate about. Hopefully, it also will encourage other employees to share their time and talents with worthy groups.”
Ben Bingle, director of the DeKalb County Nonprofit Partnership, which is helping to promote the opportunity to agencies around DeKalb County, is excited for what the program could mean for the community.
“From larger organizations like the Voluntary Action Center (VAC) and YMCA to smaller ones like Barb Food Mart and the Hinckley Historical Society, we have more than 130 member groups,” said Bingle. “This provides an opportunity for them to leverage the vast range of talent at NIU, from the skills of building service workers, to information technology professionals,” Bingle said.
Organizations in need of volunteers can apply to be part of the program and are encouraged to register online at https://hrs.niu.edu/apps/huskies-give-back/vol-org. To date, roughly 20 organizations have registered.
Employees can select from that pre-approved list of opportunities, or submit the name of an organization or school where they would like to give their time. Submissions must be made at least three weeks in advance so that the organization can be reviewed by the university’s Ethics and Compliance Office. Public schools are considered pre-approved, but private schools must be vetted. Volunteering for political activities is not allowed as part of this program.
Employees have the option of volunteering at schools or organizations outside of DeKalb County as well, if they get them approved in advance and can choose to divide their 7.5 hours of volunteer time over a number of days if they wish. Employees can begin volunteering under the program at approved organizations after Jan. 1, 2020.
Dr. Freeman is excited to see Huskies unleashed to work in the community.
“What is inspiring isn’t the impact that one individual can make in a single day, which can be quite significant, but the cumulative impact that hundreds, or thousands, of days of service by NIU employees could have,” Freeman said.
Details of the program, including information on how to register an organization, can be found online at https://www.niu.edu/hrs/work_life/huskies-give-back/index.shtml