Employee Volunteering Projects

From building places to play to beautifying our neighborhoods, our employee volunteer projects and events meant a great deal to everyone involved.

The following stories are highlights of our 2022 employee volunteering efforts.

photo of a man mixing cement for a playground build

Playground Build

Southwest Pennsylvania

The neighborhood playground is more than just a place for kids to unleash pent-up energy and for parents to take a breather. During play, children learn social skills, develop their fitness, and uniquely explore their world.

Highmark joined a group of business leaders and organizations to support a collaboration between the city, Pennsylvania Municipal League and KABOOM! a nonprofit that helps to build kid-designed play spaces in underserved areas. The months-long partnership culminated in October’s three-day “Build Week” installation at the West Penn Park in Pittsburgh’s Polish Hill neighborhood.

Now, neighborhood children have a safe place to play that they literally inspired with drawings of their ideas for the playground.

“Encouraging play and physical activity is vital to the overall health of the youth of our community, and what better way to do so than to provide a new, vibrant playground in the heart of Pittsburgh,” Dan Onorato, executive vice president and chief corporate affairs officer for Highmark Health, said in a release. “Highmark Bright Blue Futures is proud to be a part of the annual Pennsylvania Municipal League playground build. We believe this new community asset will contribute to healthier, brighter and stronger futures for the visitors of West Penn Park.”

photo of a group of people representing the west virginia food bank

Mountaineer Food Bank Volunteer Project

West Virginia

Serving over 460 programs and distributing over 23 million pounds of food in 48 West Virginia counties annually, the Mountaineer Food Bank is the state’s largest emergency food provider — and one that Highmark is proud to support.

In 2022, through the Highmark West Virginia Charitable Fund for Health, we provided a $100,000 grant to the food bank’s Veterans Table program. The program uses a mobile drive-thru to distribute food and supply boxes, including fresh produce, dairy and proteins, to a monthly average of 1,200 veterans who identify as food insecure. In a state where 7.6% of veterans are unemployed, 8.3% live in poverty, or even just live paycheck-to-paycheck, one box can make an enormous difference.

“A lot of veterans are in need,” said James S., a veteran who was interviewed by Mountaineer Food Bank. “Some of us that have 100% disability are still in need, because of the way cost-of-living is, the gas and all that stuff. We’ve got several on my hill where I live that won’t come because they’re too proud to ask for help.”

In addition to our financial contribution, a group of 50+ Highmark employees, along with Highmark West Virginia President Jim Fawcett, Senior Vice President, Market Executive Steve Seftchick, and Vice President and Executive Medical Director Dr. Caesar DeLeo participated in a November volunteer event in Parkersburg, where they helped assemble 1,500 hygiene kits to be included in the monthly veterans’ boxes.

photo of a employee volunteer

Employee Volunteer Day

Western New York

If you were driving through the Buffalo area on the last day of summer last year, you might have seen more than a few members from our team making a difference in the community. Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York held its Employee Volunteer Day on Sept. 21, 2022, with more than 50 team members spread across three locations.

Helping to spruce up some of the city’s green spaces, 20 volunteers performed outdoor landscaping and cleanup for Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy. Another volunteer group also spent time outdoors, with 18 team members cleaning and landscaping, as well as performing some light indoor cleaning at Gerard Place, which provides housing and support programs for unhoused people, single-parent families and community members in need. Meanwhile, the Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center kept 15 more volunteers busy, as they assisted with indoor/outdoor cleaning, landscaping, greeting patients and the retail shop.

Altogether the team volunteered for 102 hours, and they enjoyed the time spent together supporting the communities they love.

photo of kids having fun at the boys and girls club

Boys and Girls Club

Schenectady, New York

With more than a century of experience as a national organization focused on building children’s character and helping them reach their potential, Boys and Girls Clubs of America overwhelmingly achieves its goals. The group reports that 97% of Club teens expect to graduate high school and 80% are applying to a post-secondary institution; 75% volunteer in their community; and 89% of members say they “can stand up for what it right.”

In September 2022, Highmark employees came together for a busy — and exciting — day of volunteering at a Schenectady, N.Y., Club location. Team members cleared and tidied landscaping, ordered storage closets, cleaned up playrooms and organized gymnasium equipment. Beautifying and organizing the Club helped to make the space more attractive for kids and parents seeking a safe after-school option for fun and socialization. Team members felt a sense of pride and knew they boosted a group that matched their own values.