MANSFIELD -- Employees and volunteers from Startek presented Christine and Steven Myers, co-founders of The Visual Bucket List Foundation (VBLF), with a check for $2,907 at a ceremony at Startek on Thursday afternoon.
To earn the funds, Startek volunteers worked a total of 524 hours, filling 132 volunteer guest bartending slots at INKcarceration, donating all of their tips to VBLF. Upon receiving the check, the Myers were “completely shocked and incredibly grateful,” according to Steven, who “expected the amount to be closer to last year’s donation of $600.”
Startek invests in Richland County through numerous community efforts. In the past they’ve worked with the Domestic Violence Shelter, Catholic Charities, the Veterans Commission, Citivan, Catalyst, and have supported the Christmas Tree Lighting and many other organizations and events throughout the community. Jeannine Lemus, Startek’s Community Relations Specialist, explains that “education, the children, and the community are important to Startek because we are such a large employer.
It’s not just employing; it’s giving back. We want to make sure we’re not just another business, just another building. We have a heart for our community and its survival. We want to see it thrive and by giving back, that’s how we do that. Last year just from employee fundraising we were able to put around $34,000 back into Richland County charities either by in-kind or dollar donations.”
Lemus, always looking for new opportunities to engage with the community, met The Visual Bucket List Foundation’s co-founders at a Chamber of Commerce After Hours last year. The VBLF, a Mansfield-born non-profit, provides children with visual impairment diagnoses opportunities to create lasting visual memories before they lose their vision. For each child they craft a unique experience catered to their list, interests, and abilities.
In their first three years, the VBLF has sent children to Disneyworld, to Christmas light flyovers in Ohio, to a dinosaur dig in South Dakota, to a day with the Blue Angels in Florida. They have provided children with E-Sight glasses that, in some cases, gave them the chance to see for the first time and are also co-sponsors of the eye doctor exhibit at The Little Buckeye Children’s Museum.
Inspired by VBLF’s mission, Lemus and Startek’s Community Matters Committee chose to adopt the organization for a month and kicked it off by inviting the Myers to Startek to share VBLF’s mission with employees. According to Myers, “you could just tell that giving back is part of Startek employees’ mindsets.”
One employee even gave them a $20 donation on the spot. Startek followed the presentation by hosting two fundraisers where they sold light up glasses and desserts to raise money for the foundation.
In May, Lemus began recruiting volunteers for INKcarceration and filled the slots in three weeks.
“When they heard that they got to bartend and that the money they brought in would go to the Visual Bucket List they said, ‘sign me up!’” Two of those volunteers, Kayla Carver and Courtney Fields, described the event as “fun.” “We got to meet a lot of new people,” Carver added, and, according to Field, had “a perfect view of the music.” Both would “go back in a heartbeat.”
The Myers plan to combine the funds donated by Startek with those raised at their Designer Purse Bingo event on Aug. 24 at Westbrook Country Club to provide more visual experiences for children.
“We haven’t had to turn a child away yet,” Myers said, “and I hope we never have to.” To support the Visual Bucket List’s efforts, visit their website at https://www.thevisualbucketlistfoundation.com/