Thursday, June 17, 2010

"They set a wonderful example for other businesses to follow."

Empire BlueCross BlueShield is a most deserving recipient of the 2010 Corporate Community Partnership Award, which is given to an organization that has helped the American Red Cross in Greater New York to help other others through exemplary action including employee volunteerism and support of Chapter programs and activities.

Empire BlueCross BlueShield has had a multiyear, multilevel partnership with the NY Red Cross that began in 2005 when more than 20 of their employees established a Response Call Team after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast. The team spent many hours from September through December in the NY Red Cross National Disaster Call Center, assisting callers who had been affected by the 2005 hurricanes. Katrina also prompted 40 Empire BlueCross BlueShield employees to take disaster training courses in mass care/feeding. Since then, Empire BlueCross BlueShield, and its parent company, WellPoint, has continued to help the Chapter provide support and relief services to New Yorkers affected by emergencies and disasters.

Last year WellPoint selected the NY Red Cross as one of three New York City nonprofit organizations where its employees could choose to volunteer on their annual “Community Service Day.” Empire employees came to NY Red Cross headquarters in Manhattan, where they reorganized the Chapter’s mass-care room (the storage area for food and beverage supplies), cleaned disaster-response vests, conducted an inventory and added new supplies to the Chapter’s health and mental-health disaster kits. Some volunteers also worked on creating and painting a trio of murals depicting the humanitarian services of the Red Cross on a wall outside of the headquarters building. The costs of all supplies and materials were generously donated by the WellPoint Foundation. Additionally, Wellpoint has encouraged Empire employees throughout New York State to support the American Red Cross through their annual workplace giving campaigns, resulting in significant financial assistance.

For its part, Empire BlueCross BlueShield has conducted annual awareness and personal emergency preparedness training as a part of its annual Associates Workplace Giving Campaign for its 2,500 employees throughout the New York City metro area and New York State. Since 2009, staff members at the company’s Brooklyn and Middletown, NY operations centers have taken Red Cross disaster training and established their own Ready When The Time Comes disaster reserve team of 30-plus employees.

Mark Wagar, Empire BlueCross BlueShield President, who joined the NY Red Cross Board of Trustees in 2008, said, “Especially during difficult economic times, it is important for community leaders and businesses to recognize the importance of the organizations that help people when they need it most. I’m proud to serve with the American Red Cross in Greater New York and to support its mission of helping people prepare for and respond to disasters.”

Mr. Wager has been instrumental in obtaining a grant from the WellPoint Foundation to support NY Red Cross disaster health and mental-health services. Empire BlueCross BlueShield also provides philanthropic funding to the Chapter through sponsorship of the annual Red Cross Ball and the Great Things Every Day breakfast.

David Gibbs, New York Red Cross Director, Corporate & Foundation Relations, said, “The support, encouragement and leadership of Empire BlueCross BlueShield/Wellpoint has been ongoing for more than five years. They have been strong advocates of the importance of supporting the Red Cross by encouraging others in the health-care industry to join them in meaningful partnerships with the Chapter. Their continuing relationship with the New York Red Cross encompasses employee volunteerism, community service, philanthropy and disaster preparedness. They set a wonderful example for other businesses to follow.”

Empire BlueCross BlueShield is the recipient of the  2010 Corporate Community Partnership Award

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