Joe Cutillo: CEO of Sterling Construction on Volunteerism
Volunteer Appreciation Week is in April 17-23. New Danville benefits from its dedicated volunteers, as all nonprofits do. Whether the volunteer serves regularly at Jazzy Junque (our upscale home décor resale store), occasionally at a special event or as a program/class assistant, or as part of corporate-related team that takes on significant on-site projects, we appreciate all that they do to make us successful. In the past year, the corporate team of Sterling Construction has visited New Danville to tackle day-long projects three times. Joe Cutillo, CEO of the company, shares his perspectives on volunteerism in this month’s “Guest Voices.”
I can’t help but look at volunteerism from various perspectives: as a leader of a major company, as an individual who is part of the human race, and as a member of the community. Those views fit into all my ideas about volunteerism, but for our involvement with New Danville, I also look at our team’s efforts as a father.
I believe that all people are giving and want to help others who are in need. Volunteering is one of the most rewarding things that we can do with our time. It has been said by many that the volunteer always gets more from the experience than the people who benefit from the volunteers’ efforts; I believe that to be true. I’ve seen it with every project that we undertake.
Our corporate team began volunteering as a team once per quarter. I was not sure how dedicating a day of service would be received by the team. I could not be more pleased or proud of the team for how quickly they adopted the notion of a day of service. Now they ask “Where are we going next quarter? What do we get to do this time?” in anticipation of our next effort. I hope, and believe it to be true, that their experiences encourage them to adopt the notion of service on a personal level and begin to involve their family and friends with volunteer opportunities in the community.
Volunteering provides the opportunity to learn, too. Many of my team members learned a lot about the challenges of special needs adults by working on site. I think the average person does not realize the realities of life for a special needs person. I was one of those average people until my wife and I learned that our son was on the autism spectrum. We had a lot to learn. I believe my team has learned a lot by coming to New Danville. Any time you serve a population with different challenges than your own, you learn something important. Since we began helping at New Danville, several people have shared that they have friends, relatives or family members with special needs. They want to talk about it; that is a good thing.
As a company leader, I am always looking for ways to develop a sense of camaraderie and team. Volunteering does that. It provides a day of focus and we can see the results of our efforts on the same day. In the busyness of projects, travel, meetings and the million things that go on in people’s personal lives, it is helpful to separate from the rush and focus on service. Not only does it help develop a team mentality, but it provides fun stories that become part of the company culture, like the story of the two guys who painted themselves into the center of the bridge at New Danville. We still laugh about that.
Whether as an individual, a group or as a company, we are all called to help others. We are part of the community, as individuals and as a company. Sterling Construction has 3,500 employees across several states. The day of service concept has worked so well for the corporate team that we are now encouraging it throughout the company by using internal and social media to promote the idea and the benefits that come from it. You just have to get started and let the ripple effect happen.
Everyone has causes that are important to them. I’ve learned it is more important to take action and get started with volunteering than to worry about picking the perfect organization to get started with.