Giving Back to the City We Love
Community, Company Culture Posted May 3, 2021 by Samantha Sheehy
As the COVID-19 pandemic has persisted since last year, so have volunteer efforts to help those in need and assist in local communities. Last week, I had the opportunity to sit down with Shannon Mutty, manager of community engagement at Boston Cares to discuss what it’s been like in her line of work as of late. Working at the largest volunteer agency in New England, we talked about her work in the community, adapting during a pandemic, and the organization’s 30th anniversary celebration. Shannon also happens to be the older sister of fellow CHENer, Claire Mutty!
Check out what she had to say below:
Sam Sheehy: Tell us about Boston Cares and what they do.
Shannon Mutty: Boston Cares is the largest volunteer mobilizer in New England. We were founded on the idea that anyone should be able to volunteer wherever and whenever they want. We do that by partnering with other nonprofit organizations and schools, helping them to fill their volunteer needs. We are most known for our calendar program where volunteers can sign up on our website to lend a hand in areas they want to serve. Boston Cares works with about 200 organizations and fills over 25,000 volunteer spots annually.
SS: What is your role at Boston Cares and what led you there? What makes this job so rewarding?
SM: As the manager of community engagement, I handle our nonprofit partnerships and manage their schedules. I fill their volunteer needs and meet with the organizations often. During my time at Stonehill College, I spent a lot of time working with nonprofits through Campus Ministry, so I knew that I wanted to continue that work after graduation. Fortunately, that’s exactly what I do every day! The relationships with our partners make this job rewarding and the volunteers motivate me every day. I can’t thank our volunteers and partners enough for everything they’ve done for the city of Boston this year.
SS: What organizations does Boston Cares serve? How do you select which ones to work with?
SM: We serve all different types of nonprofits and schools around the greater Boston area including food banks, environmental agencies, tutoring sites, homeless shelters and Boston public schools. There are a wide variety of organizations that we serve, so there is something for everybody, no matter what impact area our volunteers want to serve. Many nonprofits come to us through word of mouth. If there is an area that our volunteers want to serve that we don’t already have a partnership with, we are always open to new opportunities!
SS: We noticed that Boston Cares just celebrated their 30-year anniversary on April 6th. What does this mean to the organization? How did you celebrate?
SM: Wow 30 years! It’s awesome to see the volunteers and partners that have been around for more than 25years. We held a virtual celebration to honor those that have been with Boston Cares from the beginning. We also got to honor our volunteers that worked so hard during the pandemic. Each year, we have volunteer service awards where we recognize volunteers that have served over 100 hours in a 12-month period. They get a Presidential Volunteer Service Award or Boston Service Champions award given by the mayor of Boston. We also honor our partnership milestones with corporate and nonprofit organizations. We combined all of this together with our anniversary. Although we were unable to hold our ceremony in person, we got to celebrate virtually.
SS: As a volunteer-based organization, how has Boston Cares had to adapt during the pandemic?
SM: It’s been amazing to see all the volunteers that have stepped up during the pandemic. When Covid hit, we saw a huge increase in volunteers that wanted to serve Many of our partner organizations have had to hit the pause button on volunteer efforts as they have vulnerable populations so we haven’t been able to send volunteers. We are hoping to bring them back as more people get vaccinated. However, we started new partnerships with food banks in the city. Food insecurity has taken a big toll on vulnerable communities in Boston during Covid. It’s important to get volunteers out to them but ultimately puts them on the front lines. We are so grateful for them and their dedication.
SS: What are some ways people can get involved? Can they volunteer individually, or do they have to be part of a company?
SM: You don’t have to be part of a company! There are 350 volunteer projects per month that you can sign up for as an individual volunteer. If you are not comfortable volunteering in person just yet, we have tons of virtual opportunities as well. You can write letters to front line workers and vulnerable populations, or join the virtual knitting and mask making group. There are so many ways to get out there and volunteer.
SS: As CHEN PR is a fellow Boston-based company, what are some ways that the agency or other organizations can give back to the community?
SM: If you are a company or group looking to volunteer, you can come to Boston Cares and we can design a meaningful day of service for you. We can tailor it to serve a community that has a connection to your group. We can also design a virtual project for you. Boston Cares can set up a “new volunteer orientation” to help your employees create Boston Cares accounts so they can get involved on their own. The account gives you access to lots of volunteer opportunities around the city.
SS: Are there any exciting opportunities or events planned in the coming months that you’d like the community to know about?
SM: We are just wrapping up celebrating April’s National Volunteer Month. It’s been great to recognize all our volunteers! There are always ways to get involved with Boston Cares. We want it to be easy for you to give back. If you are a volunteer looking to give back or a nonprofit looking for volunteers, let’s partner together!
To find out more about Boston Cares and how to get involved in the community, visit their website at www.bostoncares.com or follow them on Instagram using the handle @bostoncares.