THE COMMERCIAL APPEAL
Sunday, September 15, 2012 | Memphis, TN | Business Section
FedEx team gives back with service
By Wayne Risher
Looming large above the former Defense Depot Memphis, FedEx jets made final descent into Memphis International Airport, their roaring turbines drowning out chain saws, weed trimmers and the chatter of volunteers sharing a bonding experience on the ground below.
The strategic location in the flight path made the Memphis Athletic Ministries Park Golf Course and athletic complex a perfect target for 126 purple-shirted employees taking part in FedEx Cares on Friday.
Russian-born Dennis Shirokov, 38, and Colombian-born Jake Hochman, 36, work together in FedEx’s interactive digital marketing department at the FedEx Express World Headquarters in Memphis.
The eighth annual FedEx Cares Week community service project was an opportunity for them to get out of the office and into the great outdoors on company time.
They brushed forest green paint onto wooden water cooler stands and tee box markers on the nine-hole golf course and recalled other service projects they’ve done during more than a decade with the company.
The lists were long and varied: volunteering with hugely successful food drives for the Memphis Food Bank, landscaping and cleaning up at a retirement home, holiday season programs for children, cooking meals at FedEx Family House.
“It’s sort of the ‘people, service, profits’ philosophy of FedEx,” Shirokov said. “Taking care of not just our own people, but the community. It would be kind of neat to see just where folks went and what they did this week (around the world),” he added. “People take it very seriously, which is good.”
They were among about 4,000 FedEx team members who worked on projects, from building transitional housing for poor families in Latin America to cleaning and landscaping a park in Guangzhou, China.
About 500 employees turned out for Memphis events, which also aided MIFA, the United Way, Porter Leath Children’s Center and Youth Villages. FedEx Cares coincides with the kickoff of the company’s annual United Way fundraising drive.
FedEx presented the United Way of Greater Memphis with a corporate donation of $1 million earlier Friday at Cummings Street Missionary Baptist Church. Employee contributions will be announced in November.
FedEx and employees gave more than $15 million to the United Way last year. The 2011 FedEx Global Citizenship report in July reported charitable contributions were 1.51 percent of pretax profits in 2010, a level that was flat with 1.5 percent in 2009.
Volunteers at Memphis Athletic Ministries (MAM), which also hosted about 30 employees from International Paper, spruced up golf course, soccer field and overgrown shoulders of Ball Road between MAM’s Grizzly Center and Airways.
Vince Alfonso Jr., golf pro and vice president of golf for the faith-based group, said the volunteers were touching hundreds of lives: children who participate in MAM programs and their families, along with community residents. The golf course is open to the public free of charge when youth programs aren’t going on.
“They’re giving probably $10,000 to $15,000 worth of labor in this one day,” Alfonso said. “We could never afford to do that.”
The roadside cleanup clears the way for children to walk to the Grizzly Center and uplifts community pride, Alfonso said.
The crew included employees from FedEx’s security data research and analysis group, William Johnson, Barbara Weeks and David Baldwin.
“I enjoy helping causes like this,” said Johnson, 58, a security analyst and 27-year FedEx employee. “FedEx is all about giving back. We’ve been blessed over the years to be a profitable company. It’s only natural to give back.”