Teaming Up to Help Students Thrive

November 08, 2017

Thrive Academy Laptops
Mrs. Perry's 10th grade English class hard at work learning and understanding credible and reliable sources, as well as useful research for papers and presentations. Keep it up Bulldogs!

Charity and volunteer work is an important part of our social structure — so much so that we teach children to do it, expect high school students to complete an appropriate number of volunteer hours and an estimated 10 million people per year even plan vacations around doing good works (known colloquially as “voluntourism.”)

Like many good companies, Sparkhound has a charitable side. The Sparkhound Foundation was established in 2010 as a nonprofit charitable organization focused on promoting happier, smarter, safer and healthier communities. 

While the concept that volunteering and donating to charity is a good thing for a company to do feels natural and obvious, have you ever wondered, “Why?” Why would for-profit businesses take up this mission, to the point where even companies like Sparkhound are encouraging employees to be involved? 

Beyond the obvious societal benefits for the worthy organizations and beneficiaries, we also know that doing good works has individual health benefits for the volunteers, including decreased stress levels, increased dopamine levels and decreased risks related to mental health concerns like depression.  

Encouraging employees to help their communities AND seeing actual results in worker morale and life happiness, and maybe even lower health insurance premiums? Sign us up! Everyone wins, right?  

Actually, yes, everyone does win — including the business itself. Shawn Usher (our Top Dog here at Sparkhound) discovered something interesting.  

“Building strong relationships between ‘Sparkies’ is a critical factor in our success and what makes Sparkhound unique. These relationships help to instill a uniquely Sparkhound culture, provide a strong support system, and keep everyone focused on what is important. This can be a difficult thing to do when our consultants are on location at our client offices daily,” Shawn explains. “We’ve discovered that nothing is better for bringing a team together than volunteer work. Giving back to our community helps us recognize how fortunate we are. Moreover, the accomplishment and common experience strengthens the bonds within our team and ultimately makes us a better organization.”

Community, company, team and individual benefits all come from volunteering. That is why Sparkies are deeply involved in our local communities, lending a hand to our neighbors. When possible, we also invite our clients to be a part of the good, like our recent work with Thrive Academy in Baton Rouge. 

Thrive Academy is a charter boarding school that serves significantly disadvantaged children in the Baton Rouge area. Sarah Broome founded the school on a shoestring budget and very effective in changing the lives of its students. One particular challenge they had is that the students are required to take online standardized tests on a regular basis but there were far too few computers to complete the tests due to budget constraints. This made it difficult for Thrive Academy to stay compliant with school regulations and, more importantly, it deprived the students from timely feedback, ample study time and ready access to information. 

Here is where the Foundation sprang into action. We reached out to Murphy Oil, one of our valued clients in Houston, and broached the topic with the IT Director, Mike Orr. In the end, Murphy Oil donated more than 40 laptops to the cause.  Sparkies prepared the laptops for shipment to Baton Rouge, worked for hours to obtain software and re-image the laptops, and installed and tested the laptops on location at Thrive.  As you can see, this was a real team effort!   

These types of activities help us spread the spark from employee to client, client to community, and community to our children. What types of volunteer work have you done with your company, or would like to do? Share some interesting stories and hopes with us!

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