Even if her employer didn’t encourage community volunteerism, Diane Atiyeh would still be a volunteer. Why? She loves the way it makes her feel to help others and she loves seeing how the ones she is helping react to her. So it’s a good thing that the Big Brothers Big Sister of the Lehigh Valley Waiting List Club came along when it did.
In 2011 Laura Haffner, former Wells Fargo Greater Region President (now located in the Central PA region), joined the BBBSLV board of directors and quickly went to work getting her team at the bank involved in the organization. In 2012 they formed a Bowl For Kids’ Sake team, and worked with the Wells Fargo Foundation to secure a $15,000 grant in 2016 to support the creation of the BBBSLV Waiting List Club.
When the Waiting List Club began in 2017, Diane was one of the first 10 bank employees to volunteer. She brought her teenage daughter Taylor along to volunteer with her. “Since she is considering attending college to become an educator or a counselor, this was a perfect fit for her,” said Diane.
Each time they attend they are paired up with a Little in Waiting for the evening. Diane and her daughter have attended several of the monthly Waiting Club sessions and said that the Littles often remember them from month to month, even if they weren’t able to attend the previous month. Sometimes the Little will remember what game they played last time they were together or what they did together. “They will greet us with a big hug. It’s so sweet. We really make a connection,” said Diane.
Volunteering and being involved in the community is important at Wells Fargo. They believe in leading by example and encourage staff to be leaders in their community. Employees are allowed to volunteer on two workdays a year and are paid for their community service. “Of our more than 16,000 team members in Pennsylvania, last year they collectively volunteered over 40,000 hours at nonprofit organizations,” she explained. “That’s quite an impact!”
Some of her favorite Waiting List Club experiences so far include attending a Lehigh Valley Phantoms game where they got to walk on the ice in the arena and meet the players. She also enjoyed the visit to the Banana Factory where they made a sketchbook, and the mad science night, and the visit by the magician. “I have as much fun attending the sessions as the Littles do!” she said.
In the past year that Wells Fargo has sponsored the Waiting List Club, they’ve received such positive feedback from the BBBSLV staff and their own bank volunteers on how great the new program is, that the bank recently decided to financially support it again for 2018.
When asked what she likes most about volunteering with the Waiting List Club she said, “After a long day of work it’s just a great stress reliever. It makes you feel good to help these kids. I highly encourage everyone to get involved with BBBSLV in whatever way they can. It’s definitely worth your time to make a difference in the life of a child.”