Maximum Impact

Fun with Finances -- East Assembly team member Adam Effinger teaches students at Barton Township Elementary school during a "JA in a Day" session on workforce readiness and financial literacy offered by Junior Achievement of Southwestern Indiana.

When Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Indiana’s (TMMI) East Plant had a scheduled shutdown in October in preparation for the start of production of the all-new 2020 Highlander, affected team members had a choice:
  TMMI anticipated that maybe 100 team members would opt to help the plant’s community partners. But with the support of leadership, more than 400 team members said they were eager to make a difference — leading the team to expand its reach to 16 nonprofits.

That groundswell of volunteerism led to the creation of Impact Week, the brainchild of Tiffannie Hedin, external affairs analyst at TMMI. Team members embraced a similar philanthropic ethic in 2008, when the plant cut back on production in response to the global financial crisis. But that was a reactive effort.
This time, the plant had the opportunity to be proactive.
“We weren’t sure what kind of response we’d get,” says Hedin. “But we pretty quickly had to extend our reach beyond Princeton to some of our partners in the surrounding communities, such as Evansville.”
Collaborative Art -- East Assembly Inspection team member Todd Brackin works with Gibson Art clients on a fall art project. The Arc serves adult clients with cognitive or physical disabilities. It also partners with TMMI on its groundbreaking enclave program that provides individuals paid employment at the plant.

So Many Ways to Help
Team members had a range of chores to choose from. The more labor-intensive options included painting, landscaping, gardening, trash pickup, carpentry, spreading gravel, moving furniture and ceiling repair. On the flipside, team members could opt for administrative work — such as creating flyers and sorting mail — or could make arts and crafts projects with adults living with special needs.
One of the more creative options was to partner with Junior Achievement in delivering its “JA in a Day” workforce readiness and financial literacy program to elementary school students. Team members who went down that path were given a day’s worth of training and a lesson kit, then deployed in neighborhood classrooms.
In addition to their normal pay, the volunteers received lunch, water and snacks as well as any personal protection equipment they might need based on their choice of outreach. TMMI also provided transportation in the form of five, 56-passenger buses and 15 pool cars.
All told, TMMI team members donated 2,835 hours of their time. That’s the equivalent of 354 eight-hour workdays.
Dirty Work -- East Paint team member Lidia Hunt shovels dirt and weeds at Aurora's headquarters facility. Team members helped move several tons of gravel and trash as part of multiple landscaping projects in support of the nonprofit organization that strives to end homlessness in Evansville.

A Huge Morale Boost
Hedin says the main objective of Impact Week was to make a difference in the community. It definitely accomplished that, and then some.
“What we didn’t expect was the huge morale boost among team members because of this,” says Hedin. “It turned out to be a great way to raise awareness among our people about what life is like for many in the community. And it was a way for the community to gain an awareness of what our people are all about.”
Encouraged by the impact of Impact Week, Hedin says TMMI plans to look for future opportunities to hold similar projects— though perhaps on a smaller scale.
“It was an amazing experience for everyone who pitched in and helped,” she says. “There are so many great organizations out there doing great work. But they need our help. And so many of our team members are happy to offer it.”

Check out this video to get a full sense of the breadth and depth of TMMI's community outreach:

By Dan Miller