Viacom Corporate Volunteers Refresh a Harlem Community Center

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Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is more than just a buzzword. As more and more for-profit companies become directly involved in community stewardship, charitable organizations can benefit from meaningful support that goes beyond philanthropic dollars to include cause-based awareness building and group volunteering.

Check out a photo album on Facebook featuring our Viacom volunteers: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151536650910494.842472.302103665493&type=3

On April 20, Catholic Charities welcomed volunteers from Viacom’s annual ViaCommunity Day, in which Viacom employees join forces to support community projects in cities around the world. Thanks to the energetic team, a long-awaited and much-needed painting project was completed at the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Center in Harlem.

The Kennedy Center’s fourth floor Alumni Conference Room, a multipurpose room used for activities ranging from Bible study classes to choir rehearsals, offers great acoustics for music rehearsals – but the mustard-yellow walls have been in need of a refreshing paint job. Luckily for the Kennedy Center, roughly 25 volunteers from Viacom, the parent company of Paramount Pictures and media networks including MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and BET, dedicated their day to painting the room a crisp, bright white.

Lead by Staci Bruce, Catholic Charities Director of Volunteer Services and former Viacom employee herself when she worked for Showtime, and Tara Clark, the project’s team leader, the painting project was able to get completed by lunch time.

“I always look forward to [ViaCommunity Day]. This is a great way to build camaraderie and also help the community,” said Tara, who works for Nickelodeon.

And help the community they did. A painting project of this magnitude could be very costly and take three times longer if contracted with a private company. During times when nonprofits must contend with reduced budgets and limited funding, volunteer projects like this are often the only way these community-based charities can keep serving their clients. This is especially so for the Kennedy Center, which serves more than 6,000 people every month, operating services ranging from college preparation workshops to a food pantry for the elderly.

Stacy Katz and Kelly Sherman of Comedy Central discussed why ViaCommunity Day is of particular importance to them:

“I like to give back but I don’t always have the time to do something like this. Viacom takes charge in setting this up each year and actually encourages people to show up and help.”

The Kennedy Center wasn’t the only site that benefited from today’s event. While most Viacom volunteers painted the room, a dozen split off to work on painting a mural that will be presented to the Beacon of Hope House, a Catholic Charities Community Services program that serves physically and emotionally challenged individuals.

Viacom was named the overall leader in CSR practices by PR News in 2011.

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