Volunteers from WPP's GroupM Mindshare in Santa Monica, Calif., took time Jan. 21 to put a new coat of paint on the recreation room at the Boys and Girls Club of Santa Monica. The 35-member team also refreshed the center's picnic tables and pool tables. The club provides after-school activities and has served the city of Santa Monica—and an estimated 150,000 children—since 1944.
Phil Cowdell, CEO of WPP's Mindshare North America, says he is amazed and humbled when he hears the stories some staff members share about the time they spend outside the office. "You get inspired by what individuals are doing, and it is incredible what you can do," he says. "It reminds us we have a bigger, broader obligation."
Each of the offices translates that concept into its own action, Mr. Cowdell says. In New York, staff members volunteer as guest speakers at schools in the Harlem Children's Zone to show young people there are options worth working towards. They also gave up their Christmas party and used the funds to help host a party for the children of St. Nicholas Projects, located in one of the toughest, poorest neighborhoods in Harlem. The Mindshare Chicago team supports the Windy City chapter of Habitat for Humanity. Mindshare Atlanta last year donated media equipment to help students at an area elementary school broadcast their weekly news show. Employees also volunteered their time at FosterCares, a local organization that provides clothing, equipment and toys to thousands of foster children throughout Georgia.
The Santa Monica staff expects to continue to volunteer on more such projects.
"We may think we had a tough year, but a lot of other people had a tougher year than we had," Mr. Cowdell says. "Let's do something in the community."