What began as one woman's desire to develop a culture of giving back in her own family has grown into a multi-year relationship between Sharp Health Plan and the Monarch School for homeless children in San Diego.
Employees at Sharp Health Plan recently donated more than 900 individual toiletry kits to the school, which serves more than 300 K-12 homeless students. Members of the business development, finance, health services and operations teams donated and sorted items, then created kits for students — with soap, shampoo and other daily hygiene necessities. They also included messages of hope, encouragement and support for recipients.
The project's sponsor is Victoria Muschek, a marketing and communications specialist with Sharp Health Plan. In the beginning, she would decorate brown paper bags and stuff hygiene kits with her children and pass them out to people in need. She felt there was a better way to channel their efforts to make a bigger impact.
A philanthropic group in her community of Scripps Ranch introduced Muschek to the Monarch School. When she heard about what they were doing to break down the barriers to success, she thought, "I've got to help this group."
"I can't solve the homeless problem, but I can do one thing, and do it really well," she says.
Muschek's colleagues at Sharp Health Plan shared in her passion for giving back and immediately signed on to support the school. In 2016, members of the business development team donated hygiene kits and in 2017, the Health Plan supported the school's Butterfly Boutique, which provides clothing, shoes and other items free of charge to students and their families.
When given the opportunity to select another project for 2018, the team agreed to stay on with Monarch School. In addition to the annual service projects, several Health Plan employees serve as mentors to students at the school.
"Your support helps transform the lives of homeless youth every day here at Monarch," says Erin Spiewak, chief executive officer of Monarch School. "Your contribution empowers homeless students to succeed in school and life."
A focus on emotional growth and self-sufficiency is a core part of the school's emphasis on academic opportunity and breaking the cycle of poverty. Helping meet basic needs for students and their families, such as by delivering toiletry kits, helps provide much-needed stability and support. The donation from Sharp Health Plan will provide the school with nine months' worth of toiletry supplies for students — especially beneficial to help them maintain good personal hygiene, and reduce their risk of contracting hepatitis A or the flu.
"Projects like this are part of what makes me love working for Sharp Health Plan, a company that understands that it's not just about coming to work and doing your job well; it's about taking care of the community around you," Muschek says. "As President Kennedy said, 'To those whom much is given, much is expected.' We have a great responsibility to put out a hand and help somebody else up."
For the news media: To talk with a Sharp Health Plan expert about the Monarch School project for an upcoming story, contact Aleksandra Bruce at firstname.lastname@example.org.