Marriott International, Capital One and Berkshire Bank Share CSR Expertise

Don’t miss the latest CSR Center pieces by executives from Marriott International, Capital One and Berkshire Bank.
• Learn how to implement sustainability principles in “My Actions To Achieve a More Sustainable Future” by Jerome Tennille at Marriott International.
• Find out why it’s a moral imperative for successful leaders to sponsor other women in “Women and the Critical Role of Career Sponsors” by Katya Andersen, SVP of Card Customer Experience at Capital One.
• Learn how to achieve a 100% participation rate through “Employee Centered Corporate Social Responsibility” by Gary R. Levante, Vice President, Corporate Social Responsibility at Berkshire Bank.

Community Health Charities in the News

Check out our recent news coverage in the Washington Post, Forbes, U.S. News and World Report and more, including:

Government shutdown impact on CFC 

Since the government was under a partial shutdown from before the holidays through the end of the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) on January 11, we called an emergency meeting with OPM, CFC Outreach Coordinators, and other CFC partners last week. We are pleased to share the campaign has extended and will provide more details accordingly.

Join Us in New York City 

KampCo Restaurants Continue to Give Back

KampCo is kicking off 2019 by continuing its partnership with CHC and giving back to our nation’s heroes. On January 29, KampCo will donate a portion of all sales to support CHC’s “Hero’s Health” cause.

“We’re very excited to be supporting Hero’s Health and Heart Health and giving back to people that have given so much for us,” said Randy Kamp, founder of KampCo. “It’s an exciting time to be able to support great causes that help great people and provide assistance when in need most.”

KampCo first started its cause marketing partnership with CHC in September 2018 and has since donated to a special cause once a month by raising awareness and donating 10% of proceeds at all KampCo locations across Oklahoma and Texas.

Do-Good Date Night 

A nationwide survey by our partner Leukemia and Lymphoma Society showed that volunteering enhances relationships and improves your love life. This Valentine’s Day and all year long, find volunteer projects near you with our Online Locator Tool. Or make it a group date and search our On the Spot Volunteer Guide for easy activities you can do with your family, friends, or coworkers.

7 Steps to a Healthier You: How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolution 

You are never too old, too out-of-shape, or too overweight to make healthy changes. And while it doesn’t take the start of a new year to institute healthy changes in your life, this is the perfect opportunity to think about the improvements you would like to see. Here are seven simple steps to help keep your resolutions.

CHC Board Member Awarded Gold Stevie for Female Entrepreneur of the Year

CHC Board Member and CEO of TriageLogic and Continuwell, Dr. Charu Raheja, was named a Gold Stevie winner for Female Entrepreneur of the Year – Business Services – in the 15th annual Stevie Awards for Women in Business. Watch Dr. Raheja’s acceptance speech and post-awards ceremony interview.

Everyone loves a romantic evening at a special restaurant with that special someone or just spending an afternoon cuddled on the couch with a good movie. But did you know that getting out and doing good is good for your love life too?

A nationwide survey by our partner Leukemia and Lymphoma Society showed that volunteering enhances relationships and improves your love life.

This Valentine’s Day and all year long, find volunteer projects near you with our Online Locator Tool. Or make it a group date and search our On the Spot Volunteer Guide for easy activities you can do with your family, friends, or coworkers.

Ghandi once said “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. We need not wait to see what others do.” Ghandi believed that personal and societal transformation go hand in hand. He also struggled with the reality that one person’s actions alone aren’t enough. Social transformation takes the rigorous and persistent action by many. I must say I agree. But, big change in society starts with an individual’s actions. Whether it’s the birth of a social movement like Me Too (or #MeToo), protests like The March for Life and The Women’s March, or the act of eliminating plastic straws from consumer facing storefronts, it started with individual action. Over time these actions gained consensus with many and swept the landscape. Now, I should say that I’m not seeking to create a movement. I only share those examples because we must understand that individual action towards similar or like minded ideas have implications. Some good, some bad. This is most certainly the case when trying to create a more sustainable future.

Those who know me remember I studied sustainability in graduate school. The academics focused on the implementation of sustainability principles into companies, organizations and government agencies. However, those very principles are applicable to daily actions in our personal lives. I admit that while I do a fair amount to be responsible every day, there’s so much more I can do. So, I’m making a commitment to do better, be better. What does that mean? Well, I’m doubling down on implementing sustainability principles into my own daily actions. Before I get further into the actions I’m taking and how you can follow this journey in Instagram, it’s important to understand what sustainability is.

The definition of sustainability can vary based on who you ask. To keep it simple I define sustainability using the UN World Commission on Environment and Development’s guidelines. Sustainability is “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” This is with regard to the use and waste of natural resources that support environmental, social, and economic health and vitality. Sustainability as a concept presumes that resources are finite, and that they should be used wisely with a view to long-term priorities and consequences based on the way we consume them. You may have also heard the term “circular economy.” A circular economy is a regenerative system that is different to our current economic model of “take, make, dispose.” In a circular economy we minimize resource input and waste, emission, and energy leakage by slowing, closing, and narrowing energy and material loops. This is achieved through designing longer lasting products, and then maintaining, repairing, reusing, remanufacturing, refurbishing, recycling, and upcycling those currently in circulation. That same concept can also be applied to our own personal decisions as consumers. That’s part of what I aim to achieve. I must point out that this concept is important (to me personally) because it’s estimated humans are using natural resources 1.7 times faster than can be regenerated. Or to put it more simply, we consume 1.7 Earths each year.

January marked the beginning of my journey. Implementing sustainability principles can be difficult, especially for those who are unfamiliar with the concept or steps that can be taken. So, I encourage you to follow my journey on my new Instagram profile where I’ll share tips, tricks and facts while giving a glimpse into my daily life. Some immediate choices include the following;

  • Shopping local to support small business: I’ve chosen to do my grocery shopping from local farmers markets once a week. This requires that I plan ahead and am very deliberate with what I purchase. By supporting small business I’m doing two things; contributing to the economic sustainability by investing in my local community, and also sourcing items that are seasonally produced. Items that are seasonal are in higher supply and tax the Earth far less. Additionally, because these are locally sourced, it produces a smaller carbon footprint since they’re not being sourced from another country or region. Fewer “food miles” means less carbon emitting vehicles required to transport.
  • No Single-use Plastic: This is harder than it seems. Most items come in or require a person to use a single-use plastic bag or container that’s not recyclable.  Think about all the plastic water bottles, plastic grocery bags, packaging, takeout orders and containers, bubble wrap, plastic cups, cigarette butts, and so on. Over 8 million tons of plastic ends up in the oceans and elsewhere. So, now, I carry my own bamboo utensils, a stainless steel straw, cloth napkin, and reusable coffee cup sleeve everywhere I go. I even have reusable bags on standby in my car. But, if I don’t use these items my effort is a waste of time. Intentionality is more important in this because there are many places for missteps. Here’s the thing, it’s impossible to avoid single-use plastic, but we have to do the best we can. I think we all know the benefits of ditching the single-use bags, it’s just better for the environment. And maybe, just maybe that’s one less piece of plastic that ends up in the stomach of a whale. Yes, that actually happens.
  • Adopt Zero-waste Practices: Becoming zero-waste means a lot of things. Simply put, I’ll think twice before discarding any item. I will ask the question of “can this be reused, regifted, or extended in lifespan?” For food this is easy, don’t prepare more than I intend to consume. 40% of all food is wasted in the United States, that’s a shame. But it also means being more innovative in what I prepare and if I can use portions of the food that is generally discarded. An example of this is orange peel. Normally discarded, it can be recooked into orange peel candy. Our societies culture of over-consumption is a part of this problem. By rethinking the portion sizes and how much we eat will eliminate some of the waste of these resources.
  • Reduce My Carbon Footprint: Whether I order something from Amazon or drive to work I increase the amount of carbon emitted into the atmosphere. So, wherever possible I will seek using public transportation like the bus or metro. I’ve also sought to use more ridesharing apps and carpool where available. For longer trips where a train or aircraft is necessary, I will seek opportunities to purchase carbon offsets. Lets face it, air travel is a must in this day and age, but it’s also one of the most environmentally harmful methods of travel. Whether or not you believe in climate change, reducing carbon emissions is just simply better for society. Here’s why. Let’s imagine for a second you don’t believe the Earth’s temperature is changing from man-made activity or causing ocean levels to rise. That’s fine, we can have that debate later. However, you probably believe in your own health and vitality. And we all know the carbon monoxide from your car’s exhaust is harmful. It’ll kill you. That stuff is getting pumped into the air you and I breathe. In places like Los Angeles and Beijing (China), the air quality is so compromised citizens sometimes wear face masks or they risk having chest pain and lung complications. To me the benefit is clear. We make the air quality better while minimizing our imprint on the Earth’s climate.
  • Continuing My Plant-based Diet: I hardly eat meat as it is. By hardly, I mean I probably eat something with meat (or dairy) once a week, or every other week. I’ve adopted a mostly vegan diet. Personally my body just feels better, and it works best with my exercise and training schedule as an ultra-marathoner. In addition to that, plant based diets are much easier on the environment. Why you ask? Because they require fewer resources to maintain compared to land-intense agricultural products like beef and other types of animal farming. 14.5% of all greenhouse emissions are a result of animal based agriculture (i.e. methane from manure and fuel used to transport product). By adopting a plant-based diet will reduce the health risks assumed by eating meat and other processed items. Additionally, we’ll reduce the amount of land and water used and carbon emissions emitted.

Well, I hope that gives you an idea of the steps I’m taking. And while I’m adopting other practices not outlined above I hope you follow this journey. This will certainly be one that evolves through 2019 and beyond. I should also mention that this isn’t a year-long resolution or anything of the sort. This for me is just another lifestyle change as I evolve as a person. That said, I’m not perfect, so I imagine there will be great lessons learned from this change. In all, I will be sharing both my successes and failures along the way. If you have tips, suggestions or have made similar changes in your life I’d love to hear from you. In any case, whether you’re seeking tips or sharing them, don’t be a stranger.

Jerome Tennille is the Manager of Volunteerism for Marriott International, where he leads the company’s traditional and skills-based volunteer programs, ensuring they reflect the latest innovations, technologies, and best practices. This includes Marriott’s global week and month of community service, providing the framework, resources, and support needed for volunteerism efforts to be executed both globally and locally.

On Tuesday October 30, 2018, my Dad woke, had breakfast, cleaned up, shaved and fell asleep. He then passed away. He was home and in his bed. Just the way he wanted it.  Not a bad way to go. But the journey to this peaceful end was tough.

It’s impossible for me to talk about my Dad without also talking about my Mom.  They were my Mom and Dad. Inseparable. Always have been, always will be.

Six and a half years ago I also lost my Mom. She passed away 10 months after being diagnosed with ALS.  I spoke at her memorial service, and I repeated over and over again that I simply wanted more time. I wanted more time with my Mom. I wanted her to have more time with me and her grandchildren.  I wanted my kids to get to know her as adults. In my heart, I felt it wasn’t her time.

When my Mom told me she had ALS, I cried and then I did what I do when first faced with a challenge, I got informed. I was horrified by the disease but comforted by the fact that the doctors said the disease was in the early stages and, based on the averages, we would have three to five years together.  I conveniently ignored the extremes.

I took a deep breath. I focused. I tried to spend as much time with my Mom as possible.  She found this incredibly annoying. For instance, I wanted to take her out for her birthday, but she blew me off. My Mom wanted to go see a tacky movie with a neighbor.  She was living her life as she always had. That’s my Mom.

Weekends were frequently spent having lunch or watching TV at my parents’ home. While I know my Mom loved me and enjoyed my company, she found the amount of time I was spending away from wife and the kids concerning.  “Don’t you have a family?  You should go home and kiss your wife,” she would say. Again, she was living her life as she always had. That’s my Mom.

My Mom had never been average. I don’t know why I expected her to conveniently fall in the statistical three to five year norm. Given a choice between a long, lingering decline and a quick end, I know my mom preferred the quick end. Again, she lived her life on her terms.

My Mom was a Red Sox fan. If you probed, you would learn that she was a Boston Braves fan and simply a YANKEES HATER.  ALS is also commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.  The sports fans reading this can see where I am going. Not too long after her diagnosis, my Mom said something to me that I will never forget, “Adam, don’t you think it’s kind of funny that I have Lou Gehrig’s disease?  I have been plagued by the Yankees my entire life.”

Yes, my Mom never lost her incredibly dry sense of humor. Shortly after her diagnosis, we got her an iPad.  This was a good idea for a number of reasons, but primarily, to help her communicate.  There is an app for everything. I found a “speech generator” app. It’s simple. You type and then hit play. A selected voice then speaks what was typed.  I was showing my Mom how to use the app. We got to the point where you select the voice. There was a range of male and female voices to select from. For obvious reasons, I began to guide my Mom through the female voice options. Suddenly she knocked my hand away and began to explore herself, very quickly moving past the female voice options and into the male options. She picked Robo Cop!

And for what I say next, I am sorry. I know I might sound cold, but it was my Dad’s time to go.  He was very sick.

My Dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease over 13 years ago. When he shared the news with me, he jokingly said, “Don’t worry, my heart will get me before Parkinson’s does.” My Dad had his first of many heart attacks when he was 46 years old, but he changed his diet, became a regular at the Scarsdale pool, and dropped weight. He fought.

Initially, my Dad successfully hid the Parkinson’s diagnosis from his mother (he didn’t want her to worry) and others (he didn’t want pity), but he couldn’t hide it for long. He had good days and bad, but the progression was clear.

His physical struggles were obvious, but the cognitive challenges scared him the most. Before my Dad’s diagnosis, I did not understand that about 50% of Parkinson’s patients suffer from a torturous set of cognitive effects, including varying degrees of confusion, paranoia, hallucinations and delusions. The physical impacts were clearly visible but the other side of Parkinson’s was much darker.

Watching his favorite sports teams usually helped. But it did lead to some odd discussions. They would be funny if they weren’t so sad, such as the fact that my Dad was frequently frustrated by the “New York Football Giants.”  Not unique in and of itself, but his issues resulted from more than the play on the field. My Dad would frequently tell me or one of his aides, “The coaches are not listening to me. Let’s go. Take me down to the field so I can talk to them.”  As the losses added up, he stopped watching as he was too frustrated. He focused on his Yankees instead.

My Dad and I had several, I guess you would call them touch stones—things I could say or do to calm him.  For instance, my Dad worried a lot, both real and imaginary, so I would say, “Dad, there’s only one thing you need to worry about. Aaron Boone.” At the end of last season, the Yankees did not re-sign their beloved Manager Joe Giradi who had managed the team for a decade, and instead, they signed Aaron Boone, a former player and TV commentator.  It really bothered my Dad. But focusing on baseball calmed him.  Yes, he loved the Yankees, but occasionally, he wore a Red Sox cap to honor my Mom.

As I write this, I am emotionally torn between feeling relief and guilt. I am relieved that that my Dad is no longer suffering and that he passed quietly at home. But the idea that I could experience any type of relief at my father’s death makes me feel guilty. In addition, I am surprised by how my Dad’s death made me think so much about my Mom. Intellectually, I understand that I have no reason to feel guilty, but I still do. And I shouldn’t be surprised that I am now thinking about my Mom, but I am. It’s all still very raw, but I know the memories and love will help me through this period and that I am prepared for life without my Mom and Dad.

A dear friend recently wrote on the anniversary of her Dad’s passing something we believe came from an Irish Headstone: “Death leaves a heartache no one can heal.  Love leaves a memory no one can steal.”

Note: For more, check out ALS and Parkinson’s resources from our partner nonprofits.

Adam has an extensive background in domestic and international research, analytics, marketing, business development, and strategic planning.  After a 30-year career at American Express, Adam has held a series of C-suite positions and is now the Chief Marketing Officer of a startup, Blue Owl AI Software. Blue Owl offers real-time, AI-driven marketing decision software driving faster, smarter business decisions.   Blue Owl integrates historical, real-time, and forward-looking data resulting in the most comprehensive view of consumer behavior. Adam holds an A.B. in economics from Harvard University.

I’ve always been a big believer in the power of people. Call me optimistic, but I think people naturally want to make the world a better place. They want to help those around them achieve success. As business leaders, it’s our job to harness that optimism and passion, and focus it on serving our customers and communities. Unfortunately, most businesses miss the mark. Employees are historically disengaged at work and that lack of engagement costs companies billions annually.  In fact, according to the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy’s 2018 Giving in Numbers report, the average participation rate in employee volunteer programs is just 30%.

To overcome those low levels of engagement, Berkshire Bank put our employees at the center of our corporate social responsibility strategy, connecting them to our core purpose of helping everyone, everywhere realize life’s exciting moments. Our commitment to being a socially responsible company extends to every aspect of our business, ensuring we use natural resources effectively, offer a dynamic, ethical and inclusive workplace, and use the power of our core business to support under resourced populations.  While that work is at the heart of our brand, harnessing the power of our human capital is what has made our corporate social responsibility efforts so impactful. Our strategy empowers our employees to use their time, skills and expertise to contribute meaningfully to the communities where we live and work.

The XTEAM®, our corporate employee volunteer program, provides employees with paid time off to volunteer during regular business hours at a series of company-supported projects. Offering paid time off to volunteer is hardly a revolutionary concept, nor is it what makes our program unique or so successful. It’s our people. By empowering them to be local change agents, giving them choice and providing them with the framework and resources to make it all happen, they’ve been able to achieve some incredible results, including a 100% participation rate in each of the last three years.

The true measure of our success is the impact we’ve had on our community and business. In 2018, we proudly achieved our goal of impacting one million individuals with our volunteer work. That’s one million lives changed because our employees took the opportunity to contribute their time, skills and expertise in our communities. Our success extends to our business, with data showing that our volunteer efforts enhance reputation, increase brand affinity, mitigate risk, develop talent, and generate new business. A strong volunteer program not only helps create a more engaged workforce, it builds a stronger more inclusive business.

So why am I sharing our story?  To encourage and support other businesses in launching their own efforts. There are dozens of free resources and experts willing to help you on your own journey. My tips? Put your employees at the center of your strategy, align their work with your core purpose and empower them to be local change agents.  Starting is simple:

  • Get a plan in place
  • Build support and buy-in
  • Empower and engage your workforce at all levels by providing choice, incentives and recognition to encourage participation
  • Measure your success beyond outputs and communicate with your internal and external stakeholders using a combination of stories and data

And remember, it takes time to build a successful employee volunteer or corporate social responsibility program. It won’t happen overnight. You’ll have setbacks and successes but always keep in mind the end goal: the student who can read better, the family with the new home, the young adult who can finally go to college and the business that achieves success by being a responsible corporate citizen.

Gary R. Levante is Vice President, Corporate Social Responsibility at Berkshire Bank, America’s Most Exciting Bank®, and leads corporate responsibility and sustainability for the company and its’ subsidiaries. Under Gary’s leadership, Berkshire has earned more than two dozen awards including the 2018 Gold Halo Award for the top corporate community engagement program in North America, PR Daily’s 2018 Corporate Social Responsibility Award and a 2017 International Communitas Award for leadership in Corporate Social Responsibility. A leading expert on human capital investment and community engagement, he has been featured at conferences throughout North America, on social media and in national publications. He contributes his talents to his community serving on the boards of local non-profit organizations and on the national board of America’s Charities. In addition, Gary acts as the Regional Voice Lead for IMPACT2030, a United Nations and private sector collaborative. Gary holds a B.A. in History and Political Science from St. Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont.

Community Health Charities is a nonprofit that improves health and wellbeing and connects individuals and families to nearly 2,000 top health and human service charities, which provide helpful resources available to those affected by the shutdown:

  • The American Diabetes Association offers a database of Prescription Discount Programs. If you have health insurance, please be sure to ask whether and how the discount program will interact with your insurance.
  • The American Cancer Society provides free resources such as rides to treatment that help support people with cancer and their loved ones. They can also help you find other free or low-cost resources available in your area.
  • The Arthritis Foundation provides access to care resources, including Consumer Assistance Programs and Financial Assistance Programs provided by the government, nonprofit, and corporate sources.
  • The Alzheimer’s Association’s Community Resource Finder provides easy access to free or low-cost community programs and services, including transportation services or call the 24-7 Helpline at (800) 272.3900 to find local programs.

Other resources:

Visit Find a Health Center or Find a Clinic to find a local community health clinic or pharmacy in your area. These clinics generally are free to patients or require a very small fee.

The RxAdvocates helps individuals apply for Patient Assistance Programs offered by pharmaceutical companies. These programs allow those who qualify to receive brand-name medications at little or no cost.

Visit find your local foodbank  if you’re seeking assistance for food.

You are never too old, too out-of-shape, or too overweight to make healthy changes. And while it doesn’t take the start of a new year to institute healthy changes in your life, it is the perfect opportunity to think about the improvements you would like to see in your life and to create an action plan to accomplish those goals.

No matter your New Year’s resolution, here are seven simple strategies to boost your chance of making the change a habit:

  1. Set a realistic goal
    1. Don’t allow yourself to become frustrated and want to give up by starting off with an unattainable goal. Setting one realistic goal to obtain will help you avoid trying to change too much too quickly.
  2. Incorporate small goals within larger ones
    1. The “go big or go home” mentality rarely works when it comes to implementing lifestyle changes. It’s easier to take baby steps than one giant leap. Plus, it feels so good to when you get to cross an accomplished goal off your list!
  3. Develop an action plan
    1. Outline specific behaviors you can accomplish daily, weekly, and monthly to help you meet your goal. Need ideas? Check out our year-round employee engagement calendar . Want to encourage your employees to become healthier? Read through our Health and for steps to implement and wellness program at your workplace.
  4. Prepare for challenges
    1. Without a doubt you will slip up, but what is important is having a plan to get back on track. Avoid the “all or nothing” mentality because it’s better to do something than nothing, remind yourself of why the change was important to you to begin with, and eliminate your environment of any crutches. For example, if you are wanting to quit smoking, throw away your ashtrays and lighters.
  5. Track your progress
    1. If you can measure it, you can change it. Monitoring yourself is one of the best predictors of successful change. It enables you to see trends and stop any downward spiral before it gets out of control. Find ways of making the tracking convenient through apps or computer programs.
  6. Reward yourself
    1. Don’t be afraid to reward yourself when you’ve achieved a small goal or milestone. Avoid backsliding by ensuring the reward reinforces the change in your life. For example, if your goal is to be active 30 minutes every day then after a month of activity reward yourself by purchasing a new item of active wear clothing or downloading an album or book on tape to listen to while moving.
  7. Be patient
    1. If you can maintain the healthy change for 6-8 weeks, you are more likely to support that effort longer term. Research shows that people’s health behaviors tend to mirror those of their family, friends, and spouses. Set yourself up for long-term success by getting others involved.


A survey by Cigna conducted in May of 2018 revealed that nearly half of Americans report sometimes or always feeling alone or left out and that Generation Z (adults ages 18-22) is the loneliest generation.

“Loneliness has the same impact on mortality as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, making it even more dangerous than obesity,” Douglas Nemecek, M.D., Chief Medical Officer for Behavioral Health at Cigna, stated in the full report.

The survey also showed that people are less lonely when they have regular meaningful in-person interactions, are in good overall physical and mental health, have achieved balance in daily activities, and are employed and have good relationships with their coworkers.

“There is an inherent link between loneliness and the workplace, with employers in a unique position to be a critical part of the solution,” said Nemecek.

Community Health Charities works with companies to engage employees and provides health and wellness resources. Interested in starting a wellness program? Be sure to read our Health and Wellness Guide for more information. Plus, access our mental health resources or check out our list of winter activities you can do with family and friends.

The holidays can be a trying time for many in our community as they face feelings of mourning, loss, or loneliness. For many veterans, episodes of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can surface while newly returning veterans often struggle to readjust to civilian life.

In May, President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order to provide “seamless access” to mental health and suicide-prevention resources for veterans.

According to the VA National Suicide Data Report, released in September of this year, veterans are 1.5 times more likely to commit suicide than nonveterans, and the suicide rate for female veterans is nearly double that for nonveterans. The suicide rate for veterans ages 18-34 increased substantially from 2005 to 2016.

You can help provide comprehensive health services for our nation’s military, veterans, and first responders by supporting CHC’s Hero’s Health cause.

For more information, please visit our military and veteran resource page. The VA Crisis Hotline is available at 800-273-8255 (press 1), via text at 838255, or through online chat.

The good news is that the average weight gain for the holiday season is just one pound. However, Americans aren’t losing that weight after the holidays, and over the years, those pounds add up.

Here are some tips for making your favorite holiday dishes healthier:

  • Curb the munchies by serving fresh veggies like cucumbers, colored peppers, carrots, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, celery, and more — with hummus.
  • Try light pureed cauliflower instead of carb-heavy mashed potatoes. Swap butter and salt for fresh garlic, herb blends, or Parmesan cheese to create a unique taste with a fraction of the calories.
  • Use mashed avocado, ripe bananas, or applesauce for part or all of the butter, oil, or sugar in baked goods. Black beans also make a great substitution for flour (particularly in brownies).
  • Swap out sour cream for Greek yogurt when making your favorite casseroles, sauces, dips, and more.
  • Lighten your favorite candied yams or sweet potato casserole by using fruit juice or chunks of real fruit for added sweetness, or add spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and allspice instead of honey and syrup.
  • Use fresh herbs and spices to season your vegetables, or grill a selection of your favorites in olive oil. Pair carrots with dried cranberries or squash with sliced apples for unique, festive, and delicious holiday flavor combinations.
  • Make your green bean casserole healthier by baking chopped onions to create your own low-fat crispy topping and replacing creamy soups with broth. Or even better, top steamed crisp green beans with sautéed onion and toasted slivered almonds with a drizzle of fresh lemon juice to offer as a fresh, low-cal alternative.
  • Substitute a portion of your stuffing’s breadcrumbs with chopped onions or vegetables to add fiber and nutrients.
  • Make your famous dinner rolls with whole wheat flour instead of white flour, or serve sweet potato rolls.
  • If your favorite part of dessert is the pie filling, consider cutting the crust completely to shave off calories and fat that don’t bring you joy. Prepare your standard filling recipe, pour into individual ramekins or a glass pie plate, and bake until just set.
  • Make your eggnog less heavy by replacing half of the heavy cream with evaporated skim milk or dilute the store bought eggnog with skim or soy milk.
  • Combine super-tart cranberries with naturally sweet fruit like apples to reduce the amount of sugar in your cranberry sauce. A hint of fresh ginger and cinnamon or a splash of freshly squeezed orange juice add a unique twist.
  • Don’t confuse thirst with hunger by drinking water throughout the day to stay hydrated. Add fresh slices of fruit for delicious and refreshing infused water (search for easy recipes online) or swap the sugary holiday cocktail for a festive citrus spritzer instead.
  • Eat mindfully – pick only the foods that give you true enjoyment and focus on savoring each bite.

Remember, it’s all about moderation, plus staying active. Want to learn more about ways to eat well and live a healthier life? Be sure to visit our healthy holiday recipes and health resources , plus check out ways to stay active this winter.

Save The Date: [email protected] In NYC

Community Health Charities is once again leading the 18th Annual [email protected] Employee Engagement Summit. This exclusive business convening brings together nearly 150 corporate social responsibility professionals, directed by a corporate advisory council from Best Buy, Guardian Life Insurance, Kimberly-Clark Corporation, KPMG, Marriott International, New York Life Insurance, Pfizer, PwC US and Winnebago Industries. Save the date — June 12-13, 2019 — to maximize your social impact.


Help your company deepen its commitment to social action in 2019 with resources from our CSR Center. Check out the latest posts:

And more from Marriott, Zillow, Kimberly-Clark Corporation, and Wells Fargo.


Check out this U.S. News and World Report article with fundraising advice for nonprofits from Peter Dudley, Chief Development Officer of Cancer Support Community and CHC Board member. Plus, read our CEO Thomas G. Bognanno’s latest piece in Forbes, “Year-End Giving: The Good News and The Bad News”.


Focus on fitness and fun to stay happy and healthy this holiday season and all winter long. Check out our extensive list of activities and ideas. Plus, try these healthy recipes for your holiday gatherings.


Make the holidays matter this year. Brighten someone’s day by volunteering as an individual, family, or group. Find volunteer projects near you, provide easy yet meaningful onsite volunteer experiences (check out our Volunteer on the Spot Guide or our Year-Round Engagement Calendar for ideas), or check out our President and CEO Thomas Bognanno’s Huffington Post article “5 Ways to Give Back Without Breaking the Bank.” You can also give the gift of health this holiday season to support children, women, or veterans, or find crisis and disaster resources regarding the wildfires in California.

At Community Health Charities (CHC), our team doesn’t just help other organizations engage employees, give, and volunteer to build healthier communities. We love getting involved and giving back here as well.

During our workplace giving campaign, we raised nearly $39,000, plus participated in workday walks, making “healthy chef” meals, sharing our #healthyselfie on social media to raise awareness of mental health and wellbeing, participating in scavenger hunts tied to health resources, and getting inspired by our nonprofit partners for “mission moments.”

As part of our holiday celebration this December, we focused a local nonprofit partner, Tracy’s Kids, which uses art therapy to help young cancer patients cope with emotional stress and trauma. Our generous team members contributed new art supplies and donations of more than $777 to promote “Merry Mindfulness.”

With all the costs, travel, expectations, and family responsibilities associated with the holidays, it is no wonder that 31% of Americans describe the holiday season as “frantic.” Here are some ways to minimize stress and maximize joy so you can better enjoy the holiday season:

Take a Deep Breath

  • Even with all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it is important to take some time to relax. Whether you take a yoga class, go a hike, meditate or journal, being mindful of your breathing has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Research has also shown the effectiveness of aromatherapy in easing depression and providing comfort during moments of anxiety.

Get Outside

  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a sleep disorder linked with the lack of daylight. Prevent the winter blues by spending time outdoors. Need some ideas? Check out this list of active winter ideas.

Keep Your Finances Under Control

  • Make your list and check it twice before you hit the stores or go online shopping for Christmas gifts. This helps curb impulse shopping and provides an easy way to visibly see your holiday expenses.
  • American Consumer Credit Counseling provides this holiday budget expense tracker to help you stay as close to your budget as possible.

Be Kind to Yourself

  • It is okay to indulge in your favorite holiday treats, just be sure to do so in moderation. A glass of eggnog or a few pieces of your favorite fudge will not derail a healthy lifestyle.
  • Here are some ways to make healthier holiday choices plus a list of healthy holiday recipes. (Mia, link to healthy recipes.)

Say “No” (It won’t make you the Grinch!)

  • Be realistic about how much time and energy you have. Say “yes” to events and activities that bring you joy and “no” to those that will cause you stress or anxiety.
  • Exchange FOMO (fear of missing out) for JOMO (joy of missing out) and savor those quiet holiday moments by yourself or with your loved ones. Often, the greatest gift you can give is time, so be selective in who receives it!

DYK: Holiday stress is disproportionally felt by women (44% of women vs. 31% of men feel that stress increases around the holidays)? Be sure to connect with our Women’s Health Resources to keep the rest of your life in healthy balance during the holiday season.

Want to dig deeper? Check out our mental health resources.

The holidays are a wonderful time to visit family and friends. If you plan to travel and look and feel your best, follow these tips to keep your energy up and your immune system strong:

  • Cover your cough and wash your hands often
  • Bundle up by dressing in removeable layers
  • Wear your seatbelt
  • Be sure to get your Zzzzs and stay on a regular schedule if possible
  • Continue to exercise; visit our exercise resources or active winter ideas
  • Get the flu shot and browse our list of flu resources
  • Limit your alcohol consumption and avoid overeating
  • Prepare for unexpected delays by packing movies, books/e-books, mind games and puzzles, or other items to occupy your time (don’t forget your earphones!)
  • Bring healthy snacks (think protein and high-fiber foods like nuts, dried fruit, or cheese) and be sure to drink lots of water to avoid becoming dehydrated and hangry
  • Manage your stress through breathing or meditation – you can do this anywhere, any time to lower your heart rate
  • Give yourself plenty of time to prevent having to frantically rush through the airport or stress about traffic

Need a little more encouragement? Listen to The 12 Ways to Health holiday song from the CDC.