When the boss says, “Go big, or go home,” the question is: How big is big enough?
At Ford Motor Company’s Legal Alliance of Women (LAW), a professional women’s networking group in Ford’s Office of General Counsel (OGC), going big meant going global.
Hundreds of attorneys from Ford OGC and affiliated law firms from eight countries volunteered time for the Sept. 27 LAW day of service, a new program to provide legal aid and assistance to community nonprofit agencies.
Organized by the LAW, more than 90 law firms supporting the work of Ford OGC participated. Many of the projects focused on helping women and girls through educational, empowerment and support programs. The focus on women and children is a cause Bradley Gayton, Ford group vice president, chief administrative officer and general counsel, is passionate about.
Other programs provided safe walking paths in rough neighborhoods, supported the arts by helping cut and sort materials, assisted nonprofit agencies with door-to-door canvassing and improved blighted communities with yard cleanup and landscaping.
“I have always maintained that it is important to give back to the communities in which we work, and our attorneys and partner law firms did that in a big way,” Gayton said. “Today, our neighbors are less hungry, our neighborhoods are cleaner and our society is a bit more hopeful because of the day of service.”
Last year, alliance members participated in local community service programs. But when Gayton challenged the group to do more, alliance leaders contacted the Ford Motor Company Fund to help broaden its reach to nonprofit agencies the Fund works with worldwide and help organize the event in two months.
The LAW program coincides with Ford Global Caring Month, the signature annual event of the Ford Volunteer Corps, which brings employees together to meet the needs of communities worldwide. This year, more than 10,000 Ford employees are working to make lives better in 40 countries, while the Fund is contributing more than $700,000 for tools and supplies to complete the projects.
“It’s exciting to see employees taking on initiatives and service projects, taking on leadership roles and making things happen,” said Danielle Wilson, project coordinator for the Ford Volunteer Corp., a division of the Fund that enlists employees to perform more than 100,000 hours of community service around the world. “There is a lot of passion out there, and we are looking to foster that passion in any way possible.”
Beth Rose, assistant general counsel at Ford and chairperson of LAW, added: “The passion we share in advocating for and serving our communities extends beyond this one day. It is part of who we are as individuals and drives our community service year-round.”
Already, preparations are under way for next year’s Ford LAW day of service program.
“The projects that we took on were unique ways for us to make connections in our communities and provide services that would not be provided or easily obtained otherwise,” said Shelley Merkin, Ford product litigation attorney and event organizer. “And it was an opportunity for us to help strengthen connections with the extended Ford family. We’re already excited about making this bigger in 2019.”