Edward Jones re-launched their Day of Caring initiative where 19,000+ offices and employees across the country are encouraged to support their communities through a day of service.
On August 29, 2022, Free Arts hosted 11 Edward Jones employees for a jam-packed day of learning, teambuilding, and volunteering at our building, the Bob & Renee Parsons Place for Art and Transformation. This day could happen any time during the year for any organization of their choice. The regional headquarters in Tempe has been a longtime partner of Free Arts and chose to spend their Day of Caring with us. To maximize our six hours together, Tenneille Choi, Free Arts Development Officer, and Devon French, Edward Jones Senior Department Lead, devised a unique agenda that would prepare employees for a holistic experience of Free Arts as both volunteers and ambassadors for our work.
Like our programs, the Day of Caring began with introductions, a practice Free Arts uses to help children get to know each other and establish group dynamics and a sense of safety. For some attendees, this was actually their first in-person event with their colleagues. Then the group took a tour of the newly renovated building, learning about the children’s artwork on the walls, the programs that have taken place in the multipurpose space, and the resources used to train and support our volunteer mentors and professional teaching artists.
Then attendees settled in for a one-hour volunteer orientation. This is a comprehensive presentation about Free Arts that serves as the first step to becoming a volunteer mentor in our programs. This is to help people understand our programs and volunteer commitment. By including the orientation in the Day of Caring, attendees learned about our work and were one step closer to becoming a mentor if they were interested.
Attendees then got a taste of our Professional Artist Series with longtime teaching artist Eileen Morgan. She led the group in a 30-minute session on Japanese Taiko drumming, where they explored culture, mindfulness, and teamwork. Between the beats and chants, there was a lot of focus, laughs, and of course, mistakes, but attendees experienced the Free Arts motto first-hand: “There are no mistakes in art.” In other words, it’s about the journey, not the destination.
After a lunch break, Edward Jones spent two hours on a volunteer project making affirmation cards. This group created a total of 126 affirmation cards! That means 126 children will use these cards as tools for living healthier lives and preparing for future success.
Finally, the Day of Caring ended with a wrap-up discussion. Like we do with children in our programs, we asked attendees to reflect on their experience that day. They felt more connected with their inner child and were excited for children to receive their affirmation cards. They loved the Taiko activity for the passion and physicality. We also asked for feedback. How can we improve this kind of event for future groups? Attendees gave many great ideas for increasing engagement and adjusting the pace of activities.
Day of Caring was a wonderful learning experience not only for Edward Jones employees, but for Free Arts too. We are excited to host more in-person opportunities at Parsons Place, and Day of Caring created a template for a new kind of event where supporters can experience our programming and speak to others about our impact. Many thanks to Edward Jones for their ongoing support!