At Sandy Spring Bank, volunteerism is rewarded

January 13, 2013

Company: Sandy Spring Bank.

Location: 49 branches in the Washington area.

Employees: 700.

When employees at Sandy Spring Bank volunteer in their communities, the company supports that commitment by kicking in a contribution of its own.

If a staffer at the Olney-based bank works 50 hours for a single nonprofit group, the bank donates $200 to that charity. It’s a twist on typical employer gift-matching programs in that it rewards employees who roll up their sleeves and donate their time rather than their dollars.

Dawn Weglein, senior vice president and human resources director, said that even though the contribution is a modest one, she believes it can have impact.

“Employees are really proud of that, if you can take $200 to your Girl Scout troop,” said Weglein. “And for a smaller organization, that $200 can really go a long way.”

Jason Mihm, a teller supervisor at the Springfield branch, recently earned a donation for the Oakton-based Northern Virginia Family Service. Through the organization, Mihm works as a mentor for an 11-year-old boy from Alexandria in an effort to keep the child away from gang activity. Last year, the pair went to the movies, took a trip to the zoo and visited the National Mall, among other activities.

Mihm said he appreciated his employer’s support of his volunteerism.

“It’s nice to know that they’re giving back to the community some, and helping me out, too,” Mihm said.

In addition to the monetary donations, Sandy Spring aims to foster an office culture in which it’s easy to build in time for charitable work.

For example, Mihm’s manager has allowed him to arrange his work schedule to accommodate his mentorship sessions. He leaves early on days he meets up with the child.

“We’re a community bank. It’s part of our core values here, giving back to the community,” Weglein said.

Sarah Halzack is The Washington Post's national retail reporter. She has previously covered the local job market and the business of talent and hiring. She has also served as a Web producer for business and economic news.
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