Sharon Taylor was preparing for college when she learned that her father was seriously ill. As his condition worsened while she pursued her degree, she carried the burden with her silently, too proud to ask for help. She got it anyway.
"I was smart enough to do the work, but I was very distressed about a home life that was falling apart," said Taylor, now senior vice president of Human Resources at Prudential Financial, Inc. She credits the scholarship committee of her hometown church in Newark., N.J., with helping her stay focused by giving her support when she needed it most. She has returned the favor, volunteering her expertise and resources to help the fund grow.
"They continue to do the same fine work," she said. "Two thousand dollars in scholarships has grown into $30,000 in some years. That is a great accomplishment for this small urban church to give to students, many of whom no one else would support."
That spirit of being a changemaker is the theme of the Points of Light Foundation’s National Volunteer Week, which runs this week through Saturday. Prudential’s support of volunteerism has resulted in employees donating more than 69,000 hours of service in 2016, an increase of 36 percent over the prior year. Last year alone, Prudential’s volunteerism resulted in nearly $1 million in value to communities, including more than $386,000 in pro bono consulting. This week the company celebrated National Volunteer week by honoring more than 120 volunteers, including the company’s Volunteer of the Year, Lucy Del Guadio, who donated more than 1,200 hours to Team Red, White & Blue during 2016. Prudential encourages employess to participate in their local communities through Prudential CARES programs that range from year-round volunteer opportunities, volunteer grants and matching gifts to board participation and pro bono work.
“Since our founding, Prudential has been committed to social purpose, and our employees are an integral part of that work,” said Spring Lacy, vice president of Corporate & Community Engagement at Prudential. “We have robust volunteerism programs, that allow us to build the capacity of local partners, while also giving employees opportunities to develop personally and professionally. We know that these types of programs are critical to increasing employee engagement and improving our ability attract talent, while also raising our visibility among some of our most important stakeholders.”
It’s no surprise that volunteering helps the community and enriches individuals. For Sharon Taylor, seeing the success of the scholarship program is part of her reward. When asked to bring someone who motivates her to an award ceremony, Taylor choose one of her church’s scholarship recipients -now an attorney.
"There are numerous examples of individuals like her across every realm of the career spectrum including doctor, lawyer, executive, teacher, journeyman and craftsperson," said Taylor, who plans to retire from Prudential in August after 41 years of service. "I gain great joy in seeing these kids during their defining moments."
In Taylor’s case, the volunteer efforts of the scholarship committee that helped her had an effect that continues to make an impact today.
"I will be forever indebted to this organization of committed volunteers, because when I was at my lowest ebb, they were my cheerleaders when I really needed them," she said.
Want to learn more about Prudential’s support of volunteerism or its corporate social responsibility programs? Want to speak with Spring Lacy? Contact Alicia Alston.