Wells Fargo employees embrace company’s Welcome Home volunteer initiative
Volunteers dedicated more than 24,000 hours in support of more than 100 charities during a monthlong, companywide volunteer initiative to create more affordable and sustainable homes and communities.
On a mild fall morning, a dozen Wells Fargo volunteers sporting red shirts and equipped with paintbrushes and rakes worked on multiple projects at Robert Montour’s home. As they cleaned the gutters, applied a fresh coat of deep red paint on the home’s exterior, and touched up the white trim, a playlist of classic tunes kept the mood light and fun. Montour has lived in his modest, ranch-style home for more than three decades. The 87-year-old lives independently despite health challenges, but caring for his house — especially the exterior — has become challenging. “It’s falling apart on me, and I haven’t been able to keep it up,” said Montour, a Lakewood, Colorado, resident. “I can see what’s happening and I can’t do anything about it.”
That was until he learned about the Paint-a-thon program run by housing nonprofit Brothers Redevelopment. In September, Montour’s home and three other Colorado houses received much-needed repairs and a new coat of paint as part of Paint Across Colorado, a partnership with Wells Fargo and Brothers Redevelopment to help seniors stay in their homes.
“I didn’t know this program was out there,” Montour said. “It’s a big relief.”
Paint Across Colorado was just one of 274 volunteer events in September as part of Welcome Home, a Wells Fargo program dedicated to creating more affordable and sustainable homes and communities. The companywide volunteer initiative drew more than 5,500 employees from all facets of the company who spent more than 24,000 hours volunteering for projects and charities in their local communities.
“People are motivated to volunteer for different reasons,” said Anna Bard, head of Employee Volunteerism, Charitable Giving, and Disaster Response. “Welcome Home created a sense of collective purpose. I could volunteer in Washington, D.C., while my colleagues in the Philippines were also volunteering as a part of the same initiative. It emphasized the importance of service to the culture at Wells Fargo.”
Making an impact in the community
Brigid Fitzgerald-Atsemet, a Wells Fargo senior business execution consultant and president of the Colorado Employee Impact team, brought her husband and sister-in-law along to volunteer. Bonding with colleagues from different parts of the company for a common cause was rewarding, she said. But the best part was talking with Montour, a Navy veteran, and his daughters, who were there for support, Fitzgerald-Atsemet said.
“It wasn’t just about volunteering for a nonprofit; it was about Mr. Montour as an individual and his family. He had tears in his eyes. He and his family were moved that the community was there for him.”
Jason Stutzman, volunteer coordinator for Brothers Redevelopment, said Wells Fargo has been a longtime supporter of the organization devoted to providing safe, affordable, and accessible housing for low-income older adults and residents with disabilities in Colorado.
“We know through surveys that post-Paint-a-thon, our homeowners have restored pride in their home, and they feel more connected with their neighbors and their communities,” Stutzman said. “I’ve learned working with older adults — especially through the pandemic — that our neighborhoods, communities, and homes are critical to well-being. Even more so for older adults who are trying to age in place.”
Coming together for a common purpose
Wells Fargo Welcome Home volunteers dedicated their time in support of more than 100 charities, working on everything from Habitat for Humanity builds and Rebuilding Together repair projects to teaming up with the American Red Cross to install smoke detectors and building tiny homes with the Veterans Community Project (see video).
One of Bard’s goals for the Welcome Home initiative was to engage volunteers by focusing on one of the Wells Fargo Foundation’s funding priorities — housing affordability. She leaned on the company’s community relations teams — who work closely with philanthropic partners — and Employee Impact teams to identify dozens of volunteer opportunities. The excitement around an initiative as extensive as Welcome Home was palpable, she said.
“Welcome Home is particularly appropriate now because we're coming out of a two-year volunteerism pause, where for a long time we weren't all together in our red shirts out in communities,” Bard said. “It’s a homecoming of sorts — not only are we returning to the office, but we’re also returning to our communities, working together to make an impact in an area that’s important to us. It’s a celebration of what we can achieve together.”
At the end of day, Wells Fargo volunteers left Montour with a freshly painted house, clean gutters, and a tidy yard. Inside his home, an additional grant from Wells Fargo to Brothers Redevelopment was used to update a bathroom, making it accessible for Montour.
“This has been a godsend,” he said. “It feels like there’s a load being lifted. I don’t like to be dependent on anybody, and I’m not, but I appreciate the help. I appreciate somebody being concerned about my well-being.”
Theresa Montour-Foland, one of Montour’s daughters, said the work being done on her father’s home was a big relief.
“My dad is pushing 90, and I don’t want him to feel like he’s out of control of his environment. He’s a very proud man. He’s proud of his yard and his house, and I want him to continue feeling that way.”