A day off to do good

Baylor College of Medicine launched the Volunteer Time Off Program in 2015, and since then employees have committed more than 870 hours working in the community. The program gives employees one paid day off a year to serve in the community.

The program is another way in which Baylor shows its commitment to community service, according to many of the people who have taken advantage of it.

“There is no question that Baylor is committed to serving the community by fostering a very supportive environment for students, faculty, and staff to participate in community services and events,” said Simone Tiu of the tropical medicine section in the Department of Pediatrics, who used a paid day off to volunteer at the Houston Food Bank along with her colleagues. “There are so many programs that we can choose from that match our interests, like the March for Science, Houston Pride Festival and Matthew Carter Service Day or volunteering at a local nonprofit. The opportunity through the Volunteer Time Off program to serve our community is truly invaluable in terms of helping us develop teamwork and compassion and sharing our talents to make Houston a better place.”

LaTasha Young, who works in Affiliate Operations, is appreciative that Baylor supports an environment of inclusion and helping others, and said that the paid day off allowed her to fulfill her duty to “serve the greater good.” For Dr. Michael Gleason, assistant professor of pediatrics, the program allows him and other physicians to have an “out-of-clinic experience” by working in the community.

Those employees who have already taken advantage of their paid day off for community service encourage their colleagues to do the same. “If anyone has a cause they support or are just looking for a way to give back, I encourage them to use the volunteer hours that Baylor provides – it’s so worth it!” said Monica Williams of Human Resources.

Learn more below about how employees are helping in Houston and beyond, and how they have benefited in turn.

Andrea Croft
Senior Administrative Assistant in the Office of the Provost
Volunteer organization: Faithful Paws

What did you do on your Volunteer Time Off?
I went with my therapy pup to Carnegie High School for finals stress relief. While my dog has visited Baylor to interact with medical students, it was nice seeing the younger students embrace the dogs. I talked to a school counselor while I was there, and she said there is a noticeable improvement in scores by the students who visit with the dogs.

How did you benefit?
Normally I volunteer with Faithful Paws on weekends since I don’t have time during the week. It was nice to have a change of pace and visit a new group on a new day and not have to take a personal or vacation day.

Dr. Michael Gleason
Assistant Professor, Pediatrics – Hematology/Oncology
Volunteer organization: Camp Periwinkle

What did you do on your Volunteer Time Off?
I volunteered at Camp Periwinkle, a weeklong, spend-the-night camp for children with cancer who are treated at our clinics and their siblings, where these patients can go and be a “normal” kid. The camp is staffed by physicians, nurses and other staff from Texas Children’s Cancer Center, and parents know their children will be in great hands.

How did you benefit?
I was able to spend quality time doing something that I loved without having to take a vacation day to do it. This means I can still spend the same amount of time with family for vacations but also do great volunteer work.

Tera Skeen
Research nurse, Department of Anesthesiology
Volunteer organization: Faith in Practice

What did you do on your Volunteer Time Off?
I was part of a team of Baylor and Texas Children’s employees and others that went to Antigua, Guatemala, on an eight-day medical trip. We saw patients who had been recommended for surgery and performed surgeries for four consecutive days at Obras Sociales del Santo Hermano Pedro Hospital. All work was volunteer, and we brought our own supplies with us. In total, after four consecutive days of surgery, we had performed surgery on 101 pediatric patients and had finished a total of 212 procedures. It was incredibly rewarding, and it took a lot of hard work to get through those days.

How did you benefit?
It was exhausting – four all-day surgical days, it was hot, with no air conditioning – but it was so rewarding. It reminded me why I got into the field of nursing. One of the highlights was coloring with a group of kids and teaching them how to play Tic, Tac, Toe. They were blown away by this game and called it ticky-tock. I will absolutely go on this trip again and use another paid day off through the Volunteer Time Off Program.

Simone Tiu
Project Manager, Pediatrics – Tropical Medicine
Volunteer organization: Houston Food Bank

What did you do during your Volunteer Time Off?
My colleagues and I volunteered together. We sorted food items, and we were able to prepare many boxes of food and other items that will be delivered to those in need. We were all quite tired at the end but it was a great feeling of accomplishment.

How did you benefit?
Spending half a day to work side-by-side with my colleagues to help those who are less fortunate was such a wonderful experience for all of us. It helped us bond not only as colleagues but friends to achieve our assigned tasks, and it was really fun as well.

Monica Williams
Team Leader, Human Resources – Benefits
Volunteer organization: Avon39 Breast Cancer Walk

What did you do during your Volunteer Time Off?
I worked at the Avon 39 Friday night event. We greeted walkers and helped them complete the registration process. It was a very rewarding experience just listening to the stories being told by the registrants and the survivors. I also worked the following day beginning at 4:30 a.m., and the experience was fantastic.

How did you benefit?
This program gave me the opportunity to use a paid day off versus using my vacation or personal time. It freed me up to enjoy my volunteer time and the commitment I have made to the organization for which I am volunteering.

LaTasha Young
Financial Analyst – Affiliate Operations
Volunteer organization: Women’s Resource of Greater Houston

What did you do on your Volunteer Time Off?
I was able to help update the financial education material that is passed out to class participants for the Women’s Resource inmate classes.

How did you benefit personally?
Helping less fortunate individuals gave me a greater sense of purpose and allowed me to “pay it forward” by serving the community.