Looking to engage employees? Try Lyft’s route: Promoting employee wellness and community involvement.

Based in San Francisco, Lyft is disrupting not only the transportation services industry, but employee engagement as well. This month, the VC-backed company hosted a week of employee volunteer activities across the San Francisco Bay Area with an impressive employee participation rate of over 90%.  Employees donated their time to help those in need – women, men, children— and even animals, with over 25 local charities participating in Lyft’s week of giving back to the community.

Community Health Charities was a proud partner in Lyft’s employee engagement efforts and assisted with coordinating volunteer activities for Lyft employees:

Covenant House California – serving at-risk youth. Young people staying at Covenant House were invited to Lyft’s corporate headquarters for an executive panelist discussion on career paths, a company-wide outdoor barbeque lunch, and a tour of Lyft’s colorful offices. It was a rewarding experience for the young residents at Covenant House– inspiring them that anything is possible with focus and determination.

      

Ronald McDonald Houses of both San Francisco and Stanford – improving the health and well-being of hospitalized children and their families through supportive programs, such as housing and meals. Lyft employees prepared healthy dinners for resident families at two local Ronald McDonald House facilities – San Francisco Mission Bay and Stanford.. In addition, other Lyft employees assembled Halloween gift bags for the Ronald McDonald House children and their siblings.

WildCare – rescuing wildlife in Northern California. Lyft employees from all over the Bay Area rolled-up their sleeves to build and paint a climbing structure for one of WildCare’s permanent residents, a blind possum. It was a day of team-building and creativity, followed by a tour of the WildCare facility.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital – pioneering research and treatment for children with cancer and other life-threatening diseases. The hospital costs approximately $2.6 million a day to run, and there is no cost to be treated. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital relies heavily on donor contributions and fundraising events such as the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer in late September. At St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s San Francisco office, Lyft employees rolled-up their sleeves again—this time to write thank you notes to generous donors and corporate partners who had participated in the Walk/Run.

 

I heard two things after my stroke:

  • “You look fine—I can’t even tell!”
  • Nothing.

Though said with good intention, both responses meant one thing: They didn’t understand what I went through.

For me, the hardest part of the stroke was the lack of support I found afterwards.

All of the effects of a stroke aren’t visible: Even after I regained use of the right side of my body, I wasn’t fully healed. I had to relearn English. Bright lights made me nauseous. Noises from the vacuum cleaner and lawn mower, previously routine sounds, would make me dizzy.

More than that, I didn’t know who I was.

It’s like being two different people in the same lifetime. I went from being a vibrant, social person to being paralyzingly shy. I felt a panic when around people and I had to tell my friends that I wasn’t interested in going out and being social anymore. Brownies were too sweet for me and most food was too spicy. I’m not as shy as I was initially after the stroke, but I’m still not my old, outgoing self.

Because I physically look fine, people assume that everything is back to “normal”—that I’m the same Charu as I was four years ago. Honestly, I don’t know if I’ll ever be her again—or if I’ll recognize her if I do. This is my new normal. Looking from the outside, you can’t see my struggles with depression. You can’t see me asking my husband when my mother’s birthday is or what the portion of my leg above my ankle is called.

As a society, we know so little about mental health. We don’t want to talk about it. And the fact that it is not visible makes it even harder for others to recognize and provide support.  This knowledge gap makes it difficult to connect with people and explain what you’re going through.

My advice, to anyone who has lived through a stroke or is the caregiver of someone who has, is to find support. Find a group of people who understand what you’re going through and can empathize and offer meaningful advice. My husband and I started facilitating a caregiver and stroke survivor support group, and being surrounded by a group of people who were living with similar symptoms and feelings and mindsets as me was invaluable—I was understood.

You don’t have to recover alone. To find support, resources, and wellness tips after surviving a stroke, check out Community Health Charities’ health resources for life after stroke.

Tuesday, October 10 is World Mental Health Day.

One in five U.S. adults experience a mental illness every year—that’s 43.8 million people living with a condition that impacts their daily living.

Take time today to prioritize your own mental health and wellbeing and consider the mental health resources:

Help the millions of people living with a mental health condition: support Community Health Charities’ Mental Health and Wellbeing cause and share mental health resources with your network.

In November of 2005, I discovered two sore, achy lumps under my left arm. The doctor saw me within a day, told me he didn’t like the look of the lumps, and asked that I arrange for a biopsy. My first “uh-oh” moment came when my doctor informed me that he had already called the surgeon and that he was waiting across the street to see me.

The surgeon saw me immediately and agreed that a biopsy was appropriate. He was heading out of town, but thought he’d better squeeze me in before he left, another “uh-oh” moment. I had the biopsy three days later—the nodes seemed normal. Wow, what a relief!

If your physician has bad news, they want to tell you in person. My doctor asked if I could come by his office to talk. Since I could not get back downtown that day, he asked if he could call me at home later in the evening. That evening, I took the phone and headed out onto the deck for privacy. He told me that there was a 30% chance that I had mono, and a 70% chance that I had cancer. My life changed.

A few days later, on Friday, a day the oncologist usually did not see patients (uh-oh), my wife and I met the oncologist.  As we waited in the very busy reception room, I actually said to my wife that I was still hoping for mono. She looked at me with patience and amazement and said, “We are waiting to see an oncologist, it is not mono.” That meeting was a complete blur.

The initial treatment consisted of six rounds of chemo, one round every 21 days. For five days after the chemo day, I took anti-nausea medication and a steroid pills. For those five days I barely slept.

My hair fell out on Saturday December 11th, just about 14 days after my first round of chemo and on the day of my then 8 year old son’s birthday party. My wife had arranged with Debbie, the woman who cuts her and the kid’s hair, to shave my head when the time came. At about 5:00 on a Saturday night when she was supposed to be at a Christmas party, Debbie stayed home late to shave my head. This was one of many acts of kindness and generosity that I remember so fondly and cherish.

Savor what is good. In 2005, it was a friend shaving my head. Now, it’s having completed six triathlons and one half-ironman with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) team. Accept the support you are given. My wife, family, friends, and later the LLS team were there for me during multiple rounds of chemo, a cell transplant, and a donor lymphocyte infusion.

Every “uh-oh” moment is eased by your support system. Thank you to mine throughout this journey.

           

Visit Community Health Charities’ health resources to find more support for cancer and other long-term health conditions.

Bill previously served on Community Health Charities’ national board. Read more about his diagnosis story and journey at his personal blog, Living Lumpy

Eight-year-old Gabriel Taye hanged himself with a necktie earlier this year.

A few days before this little boy took his own life, school video footage shows a classmate hurling Gabriel into the bathroom wall where the third grader was knocked unconscious. He laid on the floor for more than five minutes while multiple students walked by – some even poked his lifeless body.

Read more on The Huffington Post.

Related:

Vanilla Ice had the right idea—are you listening to your employees?

Employers are creating wellness programs designed to improve the health of their employees. The programs revolve around improving employee health and can include anything from fitness challenges to rewarding regular doctor visits.

With a broad range of options, it’s important to implement an effective and helpful campaign designed for your employees specifically. When strategizing, ask for input.

  • Ask employees to anonymously complete Community Health Charities’ survey (sample only; we’ll customize one for you)—ask them what they’d like to see, what could be improved, and what they think your organization is missing.
  • Administer confidential health risk assessments. Find out what health issues most affect your employees and then identify the resources your employees need to live their healthiest lives—improved employee health can have an effect on absenteeism, productivity, and your bottom line. Use Community Health Charities’ resources to help provide the health support your team needs.

  • Host a roundtable on company culture. Make wellness part of your company’s culture. Host a conversation and discuss with employees how to best make wellness a part of the daily routine—the roundtable is the first step towards reaching this goal.

Your employees are your best resource—utilize them.

Make today, World Heart Day, the day you start making heart health a priority—incorporating a few healthy practices into your routine is all it takes.

  • Get moving and stay moving. Whether you’re training for a marathon or taking a brisk walk, find a way to incorporate exercise into your daily life. Getting your heartbeat up for 40 minutes three to four times a week can help fight off heart disease and stroke, as well as reduce blood pressure and stress levels.
  • Fuel up and eat mindfully. You are what you eat! Make sure your body is getting the nutrition it needs to keep you going.
  • Stop smoking and stay tobacco-free. Smoking increases your disk of a cardiovascular disease, as well as makes it harder for you to reach the rest of your health goals. Use American Heart Association’s resources to help you quit.

Check out all of American Heart Association’s suggestions for more ways to keep your heart healthy and utilize Community Health Charities’ heart healthy resources.

Trying to spark a healthy change in your office? Try adding some friendly competition to your workplace. Awards can be anything from the best parking spot, healthcare discounts, time off, a company-sponsored lunch, gift cards, or bragging rights!

  • Walking—Challenge your coworkers to see who can take the most steps in a week. Research shows that walking reduces your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. You can track your steps with fitness trackers or an app on your smart phone. Post a chart with everyone’s stats in the office and update it every day to keep the competitive streak going.
  • Water drinking— Drink up! Hydration is key to overall health and maintaining a healthy weight. Keep a white board in the kitchen and have everyone write a tally every time they consume 8 ounces of water.
  • Sleeping—Getting enough sleep each night is important for your physical health, emotional health, and overall productivity at work. Challenge your coworkers to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night one week. The department with the highest success rate wins.
  • Bringing lunch—It’s easier to know what’s in your food when you’re the one making it. Challenge your office to bring a healthy lunch to work twice a week for a month. With a variety of healthy ideas, healthy doesn’t have to be boring.

Community Health Charities has a variety of health resources to help motivate your employees. Check them out, challenge your coworkers, and maximize employee wellness!

This September 11th, remember those who have fallen by supporting military and veterans in need. 1 of every 4 active duty military members shows signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression or other mental health conditions. Whether their injuries are physical, mental or both, our nation’s heroes and the families who care for them need a tremendous amount of support.

Here’s how you can honor our active military and veterans on September 11th:

  • Use our Volunteer on the Spot Guide to coordinate a volunteer event in your office. Write cards for veterans in hospitals, make snack packs for family members visiting their loved ones, or come up with your own event! To volunteer onsite, visit our volunteer tool to find volunteer opportunities near you.
  • Support Hero’s Health. Your support will provide critical physical and mental health programs focused on hope and healing, support for families’ of injured veterans, employment and job training programs, and more.
  • Share our Military and Veteran Health Resources with someone in need.

Thank you to our service members and all those who support them.

Disaster response is not just about rebuilding homes—it’s about rebuilding lives.

Thousands of lives have been affected by Harvey and Irma, both inside their paths and out. Family and friends of our staff have lost everything, been displaced from their homes, and are living in shelters while their communities recover and grow during the storms’ aftermath. Shelly Douglas, a staff member, had a friend recently pass in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

Amid the heartbreak, the solidarity and support we have seen has been uplifting—dedicated staff, charity partners working around the clock, and supporters, like you, giving to support communities in need. Funds raised through our Crisis and Disaster Response fund provide everything from emergency medical and healthcare services to mental health and wellbeing. Long-term recovery and rebuilding takes time and resources, as it is more than supplies and buildings—it’s rebuilding and restoring the lives of individuals, children, and families.

We’re building stronger, healthier communities. Together.