Powered by Purpose: Colleagues Use Volunteer Hours to Give Back

Employees use MIND’s volunteer paid time off policy to serve their communities.

Like many people, the holidays are a time when I take a step back to reflect on what I’m most grateful for. I am grateful for my husband, my family, and having a great job that allows me to help so many talented individuals launch their careers at MIND. 

This year is extra special for me because I am about to add a new and exciting role to my resume—mom. And as I wait patiently to meet my son, the thought of parenthood has made me think about what I can do to make the world a better place for him. 


I am truly blessed to work for a mission-driven organization that encourages employees to bring their whole hearts and minds to the workplace. As HR Manager for MIND, a large part of my job centers on creating a culture that empowers colleagues to use their talents to make an impact beyond their job description. 

One of the ways we encourage colleagues to volunteer in their communities is by taking the scheduling difficulty out of the equation. Each month, all MIND colleagues are offered paid volunteer time (up to 5% of our working hours), a program called ‘Open MINDs.’ This helps everyone balance their workload and coordinate with teammates so they can be fully present while supporting a program or cause of their choice. 

Supporting Communities with an Open MIND 

I recently moved to Arizona with my husband to be closer to family. Since we were new to the area, we thought volunteering at a local food bank would be a great way to introduce ourselves to the community. Together with the other volunteers, we helped pack 24,624 meals which will feed 67 kids for one year! 

Brittney uses her volunteer time to help a local food bank

I also wanted to get a sense for how other colleagues were using their Open MINDs hours this year. Instructional Developer Mio Nuñez, and Administrative Specialist Tatiana Hernandez both shared their thoughts on their volunteering experiences. 

Mio Nuñez Fights Hunger in Columbus, Ohio

Mio recently joined the Curriculum and Instruction Team as an Instructional Developer. By day, she works with her team to produce inclusive and culturally relevant instructional content. Off the clock, she spends her time fighting hunger in the greater Columbus area. This year, Mio and a team of volunteers prepared and served hot food to over 250 people at the Stowe Mission. While this volunteering experience was demanding, it was also very rewarding for her.

Mio Nunez uses her volunteer time to serve food to those in need

“Volunteering to feed people is not as simple as it seems when you're responsible for preparing, cooking, packing, and serving, all within a short four-hour window,” said Mio. “Our team that day was small, but diligent in executing strategies to help assemble lunch boxes for the public. Preplanning was key to making this volunteering event successful because there are so many unknowns. Since the team size can vary significantly, thinking ahead about what foods can stretch to feed 250 people and which foods can be safe to serve temperature-wise can make things easier. To do this job, you need to be flexible, shift directions quickly, and troubleshoot as you go along—things that I consistently do when I’m developing instructional resources for teachers.”

Tatiana Hernandez and Malinee Chum Stand for Social Justice in Irvine, CA

At MIND, our mission is to ensure that all students are equipped to solve the world’s most challenging problems. By all students, we mean every student across all dimensions of diversity and background.

Malinee + Tatiana-2

In addition to volunteering at a local charity or organization, Open MINDs hours can be used to show support for larger social causes. In 2020, colleagues Tatiana Hernandez and Malinee Chum used their Open MINDs time to march in support of racial equality and social justice.

“When MIND announced in June 2020 that we were allowed to use our Open MINDs hours to join a demonstration, Malinee and I jumped at the chance,” said Tatiana. “2020 was a difficult year for various reasons; it was hard not to feel overwhelmed and helpless. Being able to take some time out of our day to join and march in solidarity with others was such a light for us in a very challenging time. I am so grateful to work for an organization that values its employees' voices.”

Open MINDs hours are just one reason to love life at MIND! You can find out more about our organization’s values, perks and current job opportunities here.

How are you empowering your workplace and colleagues to give back this year? Find us on Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram, and share your plans.

Brittney Zurbano

About the Author

Brittney is MIND’s HR Manager based in the East Valley of Arizona. Following her passion for early childhood education, she joined MIND’s mission over six years ago and has been one of the central architects of our work culture ever since. Outside of work, Brittney enjoys traveling with her husband and finding hidden places to eat.


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