H&R Block celebrates National Volunteer Week, associates making blocks better
At H&R Block we believe in improving the communities where our associates live and work through Make Every Block Better, our community impact platform. With tax pros living and working in communities across the country, we know building connections among neighbors and supporting small business owners is important to us and to our communities. Volunteering is core to Make Every Block Better and as part of Block Horizons, the company’s transformation strategy, we have a goal of reaching 1 million volunteer hours by 2025. That’s why, during National Volunteer Week (April 18 – 24), we’re encouraging all of our associates to give back while celebrating the service of our most committed associates through the Make Every Block Better Volunteer awards.
Associates committed to serving their communities in exceptional and personal ways lead us towards our lofty goal of 1 million total volunteer hours by 2025. The community volunteer awards recognize exemplary service to the community in three categories: connecting with neighbors, fostering the spirit of entrepreneurship, and exceptional volunteerism to make their block better.
“Every community looks different and there are many ways that each of us can take it upon ourselves to find unique ways to connect people and improve life for those around us,” said Tiffany Monroe, chief people officer at H&R Block. “I’m incredibly excited to recognize those among us who go well above and beyond in volunteering and making their blocks better, with the Make Every Block Better Volunteer Awards.”
The 2020 Winners
- Building neighborhood connections:
- Winner: Gloria Guevara, senior tax consultant and multi-unit team leader, of Baytown, Texas, for outreach and volunteerism in the Latinx community
- Second place: Doug Gettle, senior tax advisor, of Hibbing, Minn., for his work with North St. Louis County Habitat for Humanity
- Fostering entrepreneurship:
- Winner: Lauren Garcia, senior tax analyst, of Smithfield, R.I., for her work in mentoring and training new barbers
- Exceptional volunteerism for making every block better:
- Winner: Sue Jayaratne, director of human resources, of Overland Park, Kan., for her work with the KC Women’s Employee Network
- Second place: Wayna Sue Burgess, franchise associate, of Ashdown, Ark. for her work during COVID-19
Each winner and second place awardee is given the opportunity to direct a $7,500 first-place or $2,500 second-place grant, to the charitable organization of their choice.
Meet a few of our 2020 winners and learn more about how they’re working to make their block better:
Supporting the spirit of entrepreneurship by helping new barbers
Lauren Garcia is a senior tax analyst who has been with H&R Block for more than 16 years. Garcia and her husband, Emmanuel, have also owned Details Barbershop, a small business in Cranston, R.I., since 2011. Garcia says she and her husband enjoy coaching, supporting and mentoring new barbers. Since they began, the Garcias have seen the openings of at least two new barber shops started by former employees. Of mentoring, she says, “The education of cutting hair is a small aspect of it. It’s learning how to run a business and manage their money. It reflects what I do at H&R Block – teaching people how to be smart with their money, provide a good service and build a customer base. The two go hand-in-hand.”
Over the past six years, the Garcias have also provided grooming services to people experiencing homelessness through several shelters, including Harrington Hall, a Veteran’s homeless shelter. Garcia says the work grew out of a personal experience where the Garcias gave a local man a haircut at no cost and he went on to interview for and land a job. They saw the confidence boost a new haircut provided and decided to scale up by working more closely to donate haircutting services to local shelters. Garcia directed her $7,500 grant to the Rhode Island Dream Center to uplift many more in her community through its programs providing food, clothing, and services to those in need.
Connecting with Latinx neighbors
Gloria Guevara is a 14-year senior tax consultant with H&R Block in Baytown, Texas who was inspired by the opportunities she received as an H&R Block associate. Guevara sees herself as an ambassador to the local Latinx community. Knowing many in the community lacked an essential understanding of personal finance, Guevara helped bring financial confidence to her neighbors by teaching them about available tax services. Guevara is also an Income Tax Preparation Course instructor and notary, all while being a mother of three.
While juggling her many roles, Guevara finds time to volunteer weekly at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church. As Secretary of their Altar Society, she helps fundraise for three annual scholarships that benefit Latinx students in need. As the Make Every Block Better volunteer winner in the connecting to neighbors category, Guevara directed her $7,500 grant from The H & R Block Foundation to the Altar Society “so that next year’s college-bound students may have the funds necessary to get the education they deserve.”
Welcoming neighbors home through Habitat for Humanity
Doug Gettle is a senior tax advisor who has been with H&R Block for 18 years. He has also been involved with the North St. Louis County Habitat for Humanity as a founding member since 1995. Known in the community as “Mr. Habitat,” Gettle currently serves as board president and is passionate about his work with the construction committee, even serving as a project site supervisor before the organization hired a full-time construction manager.
Habitat for Humanity is a national partner in H&R Block’s Make Every Block Better platform, and Gettle’s involvement is an example of the benefits local communities receive from H&R Block tax professionals and associates giving back locally. As a volunteer leader, Gettle connects new homeowners with their community, ensuring stability and a sense of belonging for families in need of affordable housing. This year, the North St. Louis County organization hopes to serve it’s 100th family and will receive a $2,500 grant directed by Gettle from The H & R Block Foundation.
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Read our photo essay on neighbors and volunteers from Topeka, Kan. coming together to make their neighborhood ‘a better place to call home.’