Staff volunteerism has become an integral part of the community engagement strategy of the John Keells Group. John Keells Volunteers are involved in most corporate responsibility activities under key focus areas like education, health, community and livelihood development, environment, arts and culture, and disaster relief.
These programs connects the John Keells family more closely with one another and the community, while enabling employees to develop confidence, communication, leadership, teamwork, and a sense of personal fulfilment and belonging. “I witnessed society from a new angle – much different from what we see every day,” said one of the thankful volunteers.
The CSR arm of the Group, John Keells Foundation, acts as the focal point that unleashes ‘volunteer power’ to benefit communities and the environment. In fact, the foundation has only two paid employees. The Management Committee and project teams, comprising of Group employees, volunteer their time.
A wider team of volunteers drawn from across the Group supports project activities. “Volunteering has enabled me to realise the enhancement of capacity in a team and how each member can contribute with his or her unique ability to the overall objective of the team. This experience has enabled me to play an effective leadership role in both in and outside of the office environment,” said Ajit De Soyza, a team member of the Vision Project.
The Foundation recorded 402 volunteer engagements in various projects implemented or overseen by the Foundation during the financial year ending 31 March 2011. This is excluding the volunteers who engage in community or environment-related activities undertaken directly by group companies.
Volunteers have often shared their sense of fulfilment at being part of such community-based activities. De Soyza said recently: “The fulfillment that you actually gain by serving your countrymen in their needs is a very rare privilege.”
John Keells Group values the contribution of its volunteers and recognises their contribution through various schemes of which the pinnacle is the Chairman’s Award. In 2010/11, the Foundation adopted a Reward and Recognition Process of its own.
Under the new scheme, the Foundation inaugurated a Volunteer Recognition Day to recognise and reward dedicated volunteers of the Foundation. Chairman of John Keells Group awarded certificates to volunteers at the inaugural event held on 25 April 2011. The Foundation recognised and applauded 287 volunteers on their dedication to CSR activities within the year.
The Foundation will continue in its drive to unleash volunteerism in the realisation of its mission: Touching the Lives of People.