Comcast Cares Day is the nation’s largest single-day corporate volunteer effort, and it is fueled by our employees’ dedication to giving back – an important value many of them want to share with their children. Of our record-breaking 100,000 Comcast Cares Day volunteers this year, more than 23 percent were under the age of 18 – including the family of West Palm Beach employee Andrea Nelson, for whom Comcast Cares Day is an annual tradition.
In 2003, Andrea Nelson began what she thought was a temporary job in customer service for Comcast. Nearly 12 years later, Andrea is still with the company and loves what she does. Now an administrative assistant for our technical operations team in West Palm Beach, Fla., Andrea’s enthusiasm for her job has earned her the nickname "cruise director Julie," a playful nod to the energetic character from the 70’s television series The Love Boat.
That energy and enthusiasm really shines when she talks about her favorite day of the year – Comcast Cares Day. Andrea has participated every year since joining Comcast, and in 2008, she became a team leader. "No one is better at rallying the troops than Andrea," says her supervisor, manager Warren Lyon. "And no one is more passionate about Comcast Cares Day."
Andrea’s passion is rooted in her childhood. Growing up in Jamaica, she learned the importance of giving back from her mother, who would regularly take her and her two sisters to visit a nearby senior citizen center. Many of the residents didn’t have family of their own, so Andrea’s family would stop by on Sundays with a warm meal and conversation.
"Those Sundays reminded me how lucky I was to have a loving family and enough to eat," says Andrea, 42. "It really made an impression on me, and I wanted my kids to have the same appreciation."
But when she was ready to share the importance of giving back with her son and daughter, Andrea had a tough time finding a volunteer opportunity because few organizations offered kid-friendly activities.
"That’s what made Comcast Cares Day such a perfect fit for us," Andrea says. "I could bring my kids with me and they could actually help. Comcast really makes an effort to have something meaningful for them to do, no matter how old they are."
Her children began participating in 2006 when Andrea’s son, Theo, was 9 and her daughter, Tiffani, was 8. They worked side-by-side planting and weeding the grounds outside West Gate Elementary School in West Palm Beach. Since then, they have spent almost every Comcast Cares Day together – and they have the t-shirts to prove it.
"My kids really look forward to it," Andrea says. "My daughter (now 17) puts it on her calendar early and tells her friends that she’s busy that day."
Volunteering on Comcast Cares Day provides Andrea’s kids the opportunity to meet her "work family," while also sharing a teachable moment the family can experience together.
"Comcast Cares Day is a real eye-opener for them," Andrea continues. "It sparks conversations that we wouldn’t otherwise have, and as they’ve gotten older, the conversations have gotten deeper and more meaningful."
For example, in 2014 the family volunteered at the West Palm Beach Salvation Army, leading Andrea’s children to dig deeper about the people who came to the facility and why. "The more they know, the more they connect with the work they’re doing and the people they’re serving," Andrea says. "That day, they learned that life’s challenges can affect us all, and why it’s so important to give back when you’re in a position to."
In April 2016, Theo will be completing his freshman year at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, and Tiffani will be celebrating her high school graduation. But the family already has plans to spend Comcast Cares Day together. "It’s our family tradition," Andrea says.
Watch the video below to see how employees and their children are making Comcast Cares Day a family tradition.