In Wisconsin, One Day Makes a Difference in Lives of Others

From working at food pantries to helping young adults improve their job search skills to landscaping a home for people with disabilities, Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) chapters across Wisconsin took One Day to Make a Difference in 2010.

The project earned the Wisconsin State Council a 2010 Pinnacle Award; it was one of two state councils and seven U.S. chapters to win the coveted national competition. SHRM announced the winners during the Leadership Conference in November 2010.

“The idea was really pretty simple,” said Kristine L. Hackbarth-Horn, SPHR, past Wisconsin Council Director, during a SHRM webinar. She is COO of People for Goodwill of North Central Wisconsin.

“We wanted to be able to organize an effort, organize the time, and do something different to get the HR brand out into our local communities” while helping nonprofits in the communities where chapter members worked.

The idea came about during the 2009 SHRM Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C., as a way to build on the council’s initiatives of focusing on communication, collaboration and cooperation, the council wrote in its Pinnacle application.

“People should take advantage of [the Pinnacle Award] as an innovation tool,” Hackbarth-Horn told SHRM Online. “It gives you something to shoot for that, hopefully, makes you think out of the box.”

The council presented the idea to its chapters in February 2010 and it was implemented June 9 and 10. More than 280 SHRM members from 11 of 18 Wisconsin chapters participated.

“Not every chapter was able to play, and we knew that going in,” she said. Chapter autonomy was an important part of the project, she noted.

“We didn’t want to be in a position to mandate anything,” but instead the council aimed to provide a general framework for the vision. The council also pulled together a committee to find in-kind sponsors for a web site and volunteer T-shirts; create a PowerPoint presentation; and handle administrative duties such as shirt orders.

A few chapters, including Oshkosh and St. Croix, that already had humanitarian projects planned for a different date were included in the council’s branding efforts.

That branding included a logo that appeared on the shirts and website. The website listed ideas for community projects, highlighted and linked to each chapter’s project, and recognized sponsors. Additionally, the council promoted the event with a LinkedIn site and Facebook page, and provided chapters with a PowerPoint presentation to use as a promotional tool with their members.

Chapters gave the council a brief summary of their projects with accompanying photos, which the council used in a presentation at the Wisconsin State Conference. The chapters and their projects follow:

Blackhawk chapter—partnered with the Southwest Wisconsin Workforce Development Board and Rock County Job Service to provide writing and interview workshops for 50 displaced workers who had successfully completed basic resume and interview help from the Job Center. Chapter members also talked to job seekers at a recruitment booth the chapter operated during the workshops.

Chippewa Valley chapter—prepared and served food at the Community Table of Eau Claire, where a daily meal is offered year-round.

Fond du Lac chapter—partnered with the Fond du Lac Morning Rotary Club to assist with children’s activities and serve food at the Rotary Tent during the city’s annual Walleye Weekend festival.

Fox Valley chapter—partnered with Rebuilding Together Fox Valley, which revitalizes the homes of low-income seniors and people with disabilities. Volunteers landscaped, painted, stained the deck and washed the walls of one home.

Green Bay chapter—partnered with Forward Services of Green Bay and Brown County Job Center on job search programs.

Greater Madison Area chapter—partnered with three area food banks to sort and repackage groceries and assist food bank clients.

Jefferson chapter—partnered with St. Coletta of Wisconsin, an organization that cares for and houses people with developmental and other disabilities, to paint and perform yard work at two group homes.

LaCrosse chapter—partnered with the Salvation Army to serve meals at the Salvation Army shelter, landscape and paint the playground. The chapter also partnered with the Hunger Task Force in working in a Community Garden, assisted at a community picnic and partnered with the Boy Scouts of America to landscape and prepare a camp.

Lakeshore chapter—collected food donations for the local domestic violence shelter and collected cash donations for the local American Red Cross.

Metro Milwaukee chapter—partnered with the Milwaukee Center for Independence to lead a Workforce Readiness Program for teens and young adults. Volunteers provided individual sessions on interviewing skills, resume building, networking and fundamentals such as customer service skills to more than 150 youths.

Oshkosh chapter—partnered with the local Workforce Development office to provide interview and resume-writing workshops.

St. Croix chapter—packed bulk food items for UNICEF’s global Feed My Starving Children project.

Hackbarth-Horn sees the project as a tool to recruit new members and reach out to at-large members and demonstrate “that our chapters are doing more than just coming to a meeting.” Some Wisconsin chapters, such as Metro Milwaukee, also view the project as a steppingstone to achieving gold status for the SHRM Affiliate Program for Excellence (SHAPE).

Plans are under way to repeat the project in 2011.

“Sometimes what we need is an inspiration and a vision that makes us want to do something different, that makes us feel as if we’re part of something,” she said. This project provided a unifying factor “across the state of Wisconsin for HR professionals as a whole” while raising HR’s visibility in their communities, she added.

For three people at the Blackhawk chapter’s event, it meant landing a new job.

The above was written and published on May 16 by SHRM’s Kathy Gurchiek and is available for SHRM Members on the SHRM website here. Reprinted with permission of the Society for Human Resource Management (, Alexandria, VA, publisher of HR Magazine. Copyright SHRM.

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