Volunteering is a simple and effective way to increase employee engagement in the workplace. The statistics are compelling. Strong employee engagement can demonstrate as much as a 58% higher return for shareholders, while low engagement can cut their productivity in half. Millennials in particular want to be engaged in their jobs by being involved in an active community with strong social ties.

Given that Sabre builds technology for an industry dedicated to exceptional service, Sabre employees are enthusiastic and passionate about serving our local communities. Recently, that commitment was introduced to us, the group of over 100 interns joining Sabre as part of our summer experience.  On a recent Friday, a group of 75 enthusiastic interns from Sabre’s Southlake location spent the entire day volunteering for Meals on Wheels, a non-profit that delivers meals to home-bound citizens.

A strong advocate of Sabre’s Corporate Social Responsibility policies, Katherine McClendon has initiated the Meals on Wheels event for the interns the last two years. Meals on Wheels is a national organization, committed to improving the quality of life of vulnerable seniors. Operated by VNA in Dallas, Texas, several Sabre volunteering events have taken place there over the years, including during Sabre’s Give Time Together event.

The cause is a personal one to Katherine, who also serves on the Board of Directors at VNA. It started with only fifteen interns volunteering in 2014 and has since grown every year. This year’s event was the largest yet, with seventy five interns driving 20 different routes and delivering 343 meals to seniors. The routes also delivered a cost-savings of $2,058, which is the equivalent of serving a senior meals for more than a year.

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Marsha Gehant, who co-leads the summer intern program, saw the key benefits for the interns as a fun, team-building activity — with a purpose.

“It provided us the opportunity to support local communities where there is a great need for assistance. By delivering meals, we have a unique experience to connect with those we are directly impacting.”

The interns also stayed back to wrap gifts for VNA’s Holiday Gift Project. Everyone participating had fun wrapping various essential toiletry items which will be delivered to the seniors on Christmas day. Sometimes, this is the only present the seniors receive, which made the occasion even more significant. Together, the interns managed to wrap over 2,000 presents.

The occasion worked as a great team building exercise for the interns, most of whom got together in groups of 3 or more to deliver the meals. Everyone appreciated getting the opportunity to work with others they don’t normally collaborate with, exchanging stories about what they’re working on in Sabre and even competing to wrap the most presents.

April Elkins, an intern in Hotel Product Marketing, was glad to spend her workday contributing to the community:

“I think it’s amazing that Sabre allows us to volunteer in place of our workday. Allowing us to spend an entire day working together in groups for a great cause is fulfilling to us and helps out those who need it most.”

Perhaps most meaningful of all is that the interns got to experience the impact of their actions firsthand, coming back with a stronger sense of belonging within Sabre and the community. Many recounted stories of how nice it felt to stop and chat with the seniors for a bit and expressed a willingness to volunteer even more time in the future, says business analyst intern Dallas Rehberg, :

“The focus Sabre places on volunteering speaks volumes. Seeing the passion each person has for giving back to the community makes me very excited to be a part of such a great organization.”

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The team in action