Some people like volunteering on occasion to support a cause or nonprofit that they care about. But Rocket Central Senior Business Affairs Manager Kim Lehman is not some people. “Volunteering at Rocket Companies is not just a one-day corporate event – it’s a way of life,” she said. “The opportunities for volunteering are endless. I love that we are given paid time off to during the workday to volunteer.” The Rocket Community Fund is proud to offer our team members unlimited volunteer hours to use at hundreds of nonprofit partners across the country.
Strategic Volunteer Efforts
Kim focuses her volunteer efforts on a varied mix of nonprofit organizations throughout the year, honing in on a particular area of interest each quarter. Q1 might be ending homelessness, for example, while Q2 is focused on animal welfare. (You can check out some of Kim’s favorite organizations to volunteer below). Kim says this allows her to ensure that she’s contributing equally to her passions while also combating “volunteer fatigue,” so she’s never bored. And the best part is, Kim brings company along for the ride – frequently roping in her friends, neighbors, family members, and teammates to join volunteer events, “getting them hooked” on giving back. It gives her time to socialize and connect with those close to her while increasing the positive impact they can make on a given organization.
“Just like a smile, volunteering is infectious. When people feel better about where they live, they better respect the people, animals, and property around them,” she said. And Kim’s friends and family have definitely caught the “volunteering bug” when they volunteered with her at Free Bikes 4 Kids – an organization that holds a special place in her heart.
Riding the Bike Path to Volunteer Rockstardom
A few years ago, Kim was looking to donate some of her old bikes from childhood and college. As an environmentally-minded person, she didn’t want to toss the bikes or sell them. “I’ve been fortunate to have owned multiple bikes throughout the years, so I wanted these well-cared for bikes to go to deserving kids,” she said. Her local police department referred her to Free Bikes 4 Kidz (FB4K), an organization that cleans, refurbishes and repairs donated bikes for children, and also accepts new bikes and monetary donations. In its fifth year in Detroit, FB4K reached an impressive milestone by giving away a Detroit-record of 3,003 bikes, trikes, big wheels and scooters for a total of more than 10,000 since 2018.
Immediately drawn to their mission, Kim signed up for a volunteer shift cleaning bikes, and also donated her own bikes that day. She was instantly hooked. “I had so much fun, met some great people and felt very connected with their work,” she said. She signed up for additional shifts that season, and quickly moved up the volunteer ranks, from cleaning bikes to deconstructing old bikes for parts and learning simple repairs. Meanwhile, she was donating more bikes and helping coordinate the donation efforts of others in her community.
The best part: toward the end of the season, kids and their parents would come into the retail space to select a bike. “Some of the kids learn how to ride a bike for the first time, right there!” She continued, “It’s great to watch their smiles grow as they gain that sense of freedom. Last year I was able to donate a bike I found on Facebook and other freecycle websites. I cleaned it, helped prep and fix it up, and then I got see watch a kid pick it out. So I was there for that whole journey, and it was pretty amazing,” she said.
Kim wasn’t alone in this sentiment, because as her self-described “addiction” to volunteering with FB4K grew, she began bringing her neighbors, family, friends and teammates to help. And they immediately jumped on board for the ride. Some of Kim’s friends cleaned bikes, others donated bikes that their kids had outgrown, and some even searched online to pick up bikes from other donors, or collected old bikes left for trash collection on the curb. Kim’s neighbor became so enamored with the organization that he even let Kim store donated bikes in his garage after she ran out of storage space in her house. She added, laughing, “I got everyone involved. Now, volunteering for this organization has grown to be an annual event for friends, family and neighbors and teammates.”
Kim’s Motivation and Inspiration
Where does Kim find the inspiration to invest so much time into volunteering and community impact? Her late father is her inspiration. “My dad always inspired me to volunteer and give back. He grew up in a hard-working family and lived in a close-knit, proud community.” He was always finding ways to give back and pay it forward as he moved through life.” Kim said that her father’s dedication to the community was his legacy to her. “It inspires me, while also serving as a reminder that time is very valuable and if you use it wisely, you can make a big difference in your community.”
Kim is also empowered by how invested Rocket Companies is with regards to supporting the community. “Community engagement is one of the key pillars of corporate social responsibility,” she said. “We don’t operate on a mountain above the cities we call home – we live, work and play here. And together, we can lead by example by positively impacting our communities to help make them stronger.”
A Few of Kim’s Favorite Organizations and Events
Supporting Those Experiencing Homelessness: Each year Kim and her friend lead a donation drive for Support The Girls Detroit, an organization providing personal hygiene products and undergarments to women and girls experiencing homelessness.
Environmentalism and Sustainability: Kim and her neighbors volunteer each year for the Dequindre Cut Greenway Cleanup, an annual event that takes place in the spring. Last year, she volunteered at Pingree Farms planting day, to prepare the soil for a community garden, where she met many families growing affordable vegetables together. And Kim coordinated volunteer efforts for a group event with Habitat for Humanity Detroit on their Detroit Garden Project, where team members prepped the land for a local urban garden.
Animal Welfare: Kim volunteers regularly at Friends of the Detroit Animal Care & Control, a nonprofit organization supporting the DACC with donation acceptance, volunteer management, live release and shelter intervention. She has worked in various parts of the organization and has fostered a few dogs to help them get adopted.
We are so proud of Kim’s efforts – she is an inspiration to our team members, her friends, family and neighbors. We can’t wait to see how she will continue to make a positive impact on the community in 2023!