“It takes an entire community to help a veteran heal.”
Those words drive the mission of the Maryland Center for Veterans Education and Training (MCVET), an organization that provides housing and comprehensive services to homeless veterans and to help them rejoin their communities. While the center is located in Baltimore, veterans come from all over the country to find shelter there — and a path to success in their civilian lives.
Every year since 2016, we partnered with MCVET during Comcast Cares Day, the annual celebration of our year-round commitment to serving the communities where we live and work. In 2018, about 250 volunteers worked as a team to weed and plant, brighten the basement and create care packages to send to active duty members. In one day, the volunteers accomplished what would otherwise take months.
We recognize and cherish the unique value that our veterans and military employees bring to our company by strengthening our core belief in giving back to the communities and customers we serve. Veterans as a group are often civically-engaged, and community service is frequently embraced as a continuation of their military service, whether they are in uniform or not. In addition, members of the military community value the ability to be a part of something larger than themselves — and volunteer programs like Comcast Cares Day provide a welcome opportunity.
This year, more than 1,000 volunteers from coast to coast joined 15 projects led by VETNET, our employee resource groups focused on sustaining our company’s members of the military community. In Los Angeles, dozens of volunteers held a family fun day in collaboration with Blue Star Families. They hosted arts and craft projects, played board games and help a military-style bootcamp for kids. In Houston, nearly 200 volunteers planted trees, landscaped and stained playground equipment at Camp Hope, a facility operated by the PTSD Foundation of America that provides veterans and their families a place to find healing, help and hope.
At MCVET, Director of Development and Community Engagement Cereta Spencer values many aspects of the Comcast partnership including Comcast Cares Day, but the connections made between volunteers and students are what truly move her. “To others, these are homeless people. But to the Comcast employees, these are men and women who have served our country, who have protected our country, who need assistance. Comcast employees understand what our men and women have done, and they have not forgotten about them at all.”
Our relationship with MCVET began three years ago with a public service announcement we aired about the nonprofit. Spencer says our work has expanded beyond what she could have hoped for. Employees have volunteered throughout the year and dropped off clothing raised at drives in Comcast offices. This past April, a Comcast recruiter held a workshop at MCVET for veterans in the program to help them prepare for the workforce and begin a mentorship program.
The MCVET/Comcast relationship goes beyond philanthropy — it builds on strong bonds created through shared experiences and understanding. Take it from Alex Whitney, who currently serves as Director of Field Operations at Comcast. Whitney is also a former Marine — and a proud Comcast Cares Day volunteer. “It’s an honor to help our brothers and sisters live a better life. I know they would have had my back during my time in Iraq. Here on the home front, we have theirs,” Whitney says.