Does Your Company Pay You to Volunteer?
Apple employee and enthusiastic volunteer Aaron Peabody frequently joins WTA work parties. But his employer increases his impact -- they give WTA a financial donation for the hours Aaron spends with us on trail. Does yours?
Apple employee and enthusiastic volunteer Aaron Peabody frequently joins WTA work parties. But his employer increases his impact: they give WTA a financial donation for the hours Aaron spends with us on trail.
We wanted to get to know Aaron a little better, find out what prompted him to spend so much of his time and energy with us on trail, and learn how he discovered this awesome benefit from his employer.
WTA: How did you first get involved with WTA?
Aaron Peabody: When I got back into hiking after a hiatus in early 2014, I began using WTA’s website regularly to find hikes and read trip reports. A couple months later, I became a member and that’s when I started learning more about what the organization does, including working with volunteers.
Over time, knowing about WTA's work created a sense that it’s something I should be doing. But I didn’t sign up for my first work party (which was in December of 2014) until my employer started matching volunteer hours with a financial gift. That was to be the shove I needed.
Why did you keep coming back to volunteer with WTA?
That first work party proved to be an absolute blast, including getting soaked, muddy and frozen! I met some really interesting people, enjoyed the work, and found myself telling stories about the experience. The latter especially, led to me getting more involved with fostering employee volunteering at my work place, which sent me back to WTA for more.
When I began volunteering up along Highway 2 in 2015 and met Evonne Ellis, I became especially motivated to continue. What has kept me coming back more than anything, though, is how meaningful and rewarding I find the work to be.
I’ve always been an environmentalist, and this is a way that I can give back to that community and to the hiking community at the same time. I feel really good about that.
What are some of your favorite memories from volunteering with WTA?
So many! Fighting for hours in a muddy pit to cut a huge root out of the trail on my very first work party. Learning that a Forest Service shovel is the best way to debark a log. Enjoying lunch while an assistant crew leader (ACL) played Irish folk songs on a recorder.
Bringing out a group of my coworkers for the first time and watching them discovering how much fun this is. Learning how to build rock structures from the undisputed master, Pete Dewell.
Attending my first Volunteer Appreciation event. The eight days of non-stop wonder and happiness which was my first Volunteer Vacation. Earning my WTA nickname.
I could probably go on and on.
How did you find out that your workplace matched volunteer hours for donations?
This was one new benefit that rolled out in a package of benefit improvements in autumn of 2014. While many of my coworkers were most excited about increased maternity/paternity and student loan refinancing, this was the one that jumped out at me and—ultimately—led me to where I am now.
Where are you scheduled to volunteer next?
I’m on the waiting list for the Middle Fork work party on September 24, and will be bringing out another group of my coworkers to Dirty Harry’s Peak on October 7. I’m also trying to figure out if I can squeeze one more in with Evonne up on Highway 2 before she’s done for the season.
Suffice it to say I’m not planning on stopping any time soon!
Want to find out if your company offers financial donations for volunteer hours logged with WTA?
Check out the list below:
- Aetna Foundation
- Jackson Healthcare
Other companies may match your financial donation with one of their own.