● Government and Corporate Affairs Manager
● 12-year Ford Employee
● Champion of Corporate Citizenship
At the start, I was merely trying to help Ford plant employees organize their annual volunteer activities. But when Ford Philippines transitioned to a lean national sales company in 2013 and discontinued manufacturing, I knew I had to help preserve Ford's reputation as a socially responsible company."
That "start" for Josephine Gonzalez represented a typical day at the office. As a Government and Corporate Affairs manager, she was responsible for ensuring Ford's presence was a positive force in the community. The plant just outside of Manila had been turning out vehicles since 1998 and not only provided jobs, but—through its annual volunteer day—considerable good will.
When Ford closed the plant in 2012, Gonzalez's typical days were over. She asked—more like informed—her supervisor that she would like to expand her role to include community relations.
"I said, 'I would like to provide Ford and dealer employees a volunteer platform through our corporate social programs to help boost employee morale and keep Ford's reputation high,'" Gonzalez reflects.
She turned up the volume on Ford's relationship with Gawad Kalinga Community Development Foundation (GK) and other NGO partners, engaging marketing and sales employees and dealers as Ford Philippines' volunteer team.
Gonzalez leads volunteering efforts focused on four basic needs: accessible healthcare, community housing, clean water and meals for school children.
"Recognizing poor families have no access to doctors and dentists, we established free medical consultations to adults and children. Today, Ford volunteers assist in checking vital signs, distributing medication and supplements, and hold story-telling and play activities for kids while waiting," she said.
"What started as a one-time volunteer activity during Global Week of Caring, has grown into medical missions that provide healthcare interventions and training to community health volunteers."
Last year, 2,700 people were helped at 10 medical missions, during which employees and dealers put in 3,680 volunteer hours.
GK partners with private companies to transform blighted areas into peaceful and safe communities. "Poverty is massive in scope and depth in the Philippines," Gonzalez said. "All sectors of society must rally to help build up these areas."
Ford is among those who rallied. Employees work as volunteers alongside homeowners to assist with all areas of home improvement: painting, roof repairs, ground cleaning. Between 2013 and 2019, more than 300 Ford volunteers built or refurbished some 245 houses in five communities.
"This is our mission," Gonzalez said.
Access to clean water was severely inhibited in Leyte Province and neighboring islands after Typhoon Haiyan ravaged the Philippines in November 2013. Residents had to walk more than a mile to collect clean water. Within a year, remote communities had their own communal water facilities thanks to annual $10,000 grants from Ford Fund and ongoing sweat equity of Ford dealers employees and GK staff.
"Implementing the water project gives me personal fulfillment that a small grant can have a big impact on many lives."
To date, some 1,150 families in 17 communities have benefitted from the communal clean water facilities.
Meals for School children
Kusina ng Kalinga (Kitchen for Caring) operates a central kitchen in various locations to serve at least one nutritious meal a day for 120 days to children aged one to 12. Ford has provided financial support and manpower since 2017. Last year, during Global Caring month, 17 Ford volunteers prepared and distributed lunches to 300 school children.
Ford Philippines has been recognized in recent years for its corporate social responsibility activities by the American Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. Embassy and the Society of Philippine Motoring Journalists.
During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, Gonzalez pivoted quickly and effectively. She oversaw the donation of personal protective equipment and medical supplies to 17 hospitals, distributed 10,000 face shields produced by the Ford Thailand plant to the Departments of Health and Trade & Industry. Ford Transit vans and F-150 trucks were dispatched to shuttle people and carry medical supplies and food boxes to front-line workers.
"In my volunteer work, I see poverty and struggle for survival. But what affects me most is how people help each other, how they live with dignity and self-respect. Seeing this helps me become more compassionate, sensitive and respectful of other people.
Managed by the Ford Motor Company Fund, the Ford Volunteer Corps is a global network of Ford employees and retirees who have contributed more than 1.7 million volunteer hours in community service projects since 2005. To celebrate 15 years of serving communities around the world, Ford Fund is recognizing 15 Ford Volunteer Corps All Stars—Ford employees who are dedicated to community service, and go above and beyond in their efforts to help people in need.