Kari Garcia, a Lead Business Systems Analyst in the Sioux Falls office, has long known the benefits of volunteering and giving back to the community. Her parents were always volunteering and set the example for her at an early age that giving back is a small, impactful thing she could do to be grateful for what she had, while also helping others in need.
“I have been blessed with my health, family, friends and the ability to work, and that has allowed me to never feel hunger, always have clothes on my back and a roof over my head,” Kari said. “Volunteering has always been part of my family activities.”
Recently, she was inspired to give back by her dad, who has been volunteering at Habitat for Humanity of Greater Sioux Falls for about 20 years.
When the Habitat for Humanity program restarted in June 2020 after a brief hiatus due to the pandemic, Kari’s dad asked her and her son Alex if they could help out on Saturdays. They both answered with a resounding “yes!” The organization did not have as many volunteers as they did before the pandemic hit, so the three of them work from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on most Saturdays.
“Originally, I started helping in the warehouse with duties such as unloading donations, loading customer purchases into their vehicles, helping with purchases on the floor, cleaning, organizing and doing whatever was needed to be done,” she said. “I learned how to put together puzzling cabinets and furniture that was disassembled when donated and was tasked to figure out how to use many different power tools to rebuild them.”
She also went through the screening and training to be a cashier since the nonprofit would often be short staffed. If there was a need, Kari was ready to raise her hand and help in whatever way possible.
And not only was her volunteerism making an impact, she was able to log those hours through the BluesCare GivingSM program and designate additional funds to benefit Habitat for Humanity and other nonprofit organizations in Sioux Falls.
Kari, who will celebrate her 33rd Wellmark work anniversary in May, has been a longtime user of the BluesCare Giving Program to give back even more in her community.
“I volunteer for Habitat for Humanity because they help provide housing and neighborhood revitalization for those who can’t afford the basic cost of housing or upkeep or repairs to their home,” she said. “I actually created a spreadsheet I use to record my volunteer time as I perform it so I can easily submit it all either monthly or quarterly. I have a tab where I record all the necessary information including a table for contact info for approval and how the organizations are listed in BluesCare giving to easily fill out the online form.”
About BluesCare Giving
The Wellmark Foundation’s BluesCare Giving program provides necessary funding to eligible nonprofit organizations. Employees may earn the opportunity to designate dollars by volunteering or through a dollar-for-dollar matching gift donation.
In just four hours, team members can volunteer and earn $100 to direct to a qualified nonprofit organization of their choice.
To find out if your nonprofit organization is eligible for the BluesCare Giving program, contact BluesCareGiving@wellmark.com.