Over 100 volunteers from Aon Affinity participated in a Day of Caring today at the site of Bucks County Housing Group’s new offices, previously part of the Willow Grove naval base. Working from 12 to 3:30 pm, Aon employees did intensive landscaping to clean up the property, which has been vacant for two years. This volunteer event is part of an Aon global initiative to give back to the communities in which employees work and live. The partnership between Aon and BCHG was facilitated by the United Way of Bucks County.
BCHG assists homeless and low income families by providing affordable housing and related services. They secured this property, formerly Naval Air Warfare Center housing, just last week through the tireless efforts of their executive director, Nancy Szamborski. She was previously the Navy’s housing director for 20 years and her knowledge of Naval housing was an asset to this acquisition. BCHG will use the buildings as offices for their administrators and counseling services.
“This new location is going to help us to do a better job. We’ll have some savings because we won’t be paying rent for our offices anymore. We can redirect those funds to direct services.” explained Meg Quinn, property manager for BCHG. “It is also really close to public transportation; it’s on a bus line. It’s walking distance from Warminster train station. It will help us move forward and expand.”
The volunteers from Aon had a variety of tasks today, including dismantling sheds, spreading mulch, clearing out branches and washing windows. Everyone was working diligently and enthusiastically. “People absolutely get excited about this day. We had to limit the number of volunteers to 100 because we only had the six houses to work on. We probably could have gotten 200. People really get into it! They like helping out in our own community,” said Terry Maniscola, Aon’s Vice President of Office Services.
“We have something called the Aon leadership behaviors and one of them is to do the right thing for our colleagues, clients and community.” explained Aon’s HR Director Carol Gerson. This value was shining through as the group enabled BCHG to focus their efforts on other areas of the huge project to convert these old military homes into offices.
Aon was linked to this service site through United Way of Bucks County’s Days of Caring program. BCHG is a member agency of UW Bucks, with some of their programs funded by the United Way. Aon is a corporate partner, helping provide this kind of funding. This match was made by Jeannie Foy, UW Bucks’ Director of Workplace Campaigns.
Everyone was struck by the serendipity of this event. BCHG just secured this property a week ago. Aon was struggling to find a site big enough for so many volunteers. United Way was able to help both these partners as their needs coincided.
In addition, BCHG just received a grant for the renovations they will have to make on the property. This grant was not enough to cover both clean up and construction, so Aon’s service could not have come at a better time!
About the Contributor: Katie Pilot grew up in New Hampshire, but is now living in the area as a Villanova student and a UW Bucks intern. She was drawn to the organization based on the emphasis on the building blocks of a quality lifestyle and is looking forward to promoting this message to a county of 600,000 people through her marketing position.