Crowley Cares Foundation takes on food insecurityWritten by Marine Log Staff
By Leah Grigsby Collins, Marine Log
When the Crowley Cares Foundation–the charitable and volunteerism arm of Crowley Maritime Corporation–saw food insecurity facing the military family community in Jacksonville, Fla., they decided to take action.
Food—the state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food—affects millions of Americans nationwide, and military families are no exception. A 2019 military family advisory network study found that 12.7% of U.S. military families are defined as being food insecure, and an even larger 15.3% struggle to feed themselves and their families.
In response to these statistics, Crowley Cares stepped in to donate $25,000, through the First Coast American Heart Association, to provide groceries as well as other wellness resources to support the food insecure families in Jacksonville.
Beyond donations, Crowley Cares additionally offered volunteer efforts, distributing meats, vegetables, baby supplies, and pet food to in need active-duty members and their families in the area.
Crowley’s Cares’ investment in community wellness and support extends far beyond Florida, however. Founded in 2015 by Crowley Maritime President and CEO Tom Crowley and his wife Christine Crowley, the Crowley Cares Foundation was established with two primary initiatives in mind: matching charity donations and empowering volunteer work–and ultimately providing a mechanism for the Crowley Corporation and its employees to get connected and give back to the communities Crowley serves in.
In regards to donations, Crowley Cares provides employees with the opportunity to monetarily support the charitable causes personally close to their hearts. Employees are given the option to choose a 501c3 charity of their choice to donate to, and in response the foundation will match any donation up to $2,000 at 50%. Carl Fox, Crowley Senior Vice President and head of the Crowley Cares Foundation, explains that there is no particular monetary amount that employees are required to meet, but rather it is entirely up to employee discretion, knowing that Crowley will match a portion of the donation and further benefit the cause.
This system also provides a sense of purpose and personableness to charitable giving, as the foundation does not choose the causes for the employees, but rather, the employees choose the charities themselves. “Giving people the choice and not pushing a certain program has been really beneficial,” says Fox. “You don’t want it to be something forced upon the community, but rather something that makes people feel like they have a say and they are the ones helping make a difference.” A large percentage of employees have shown interest in utilizing this branch of the foundation, with charities that help children, families in need, military related organizations, and animal welfare being a few of the most popular causes among employees.
The second branch of Crowley Cares is dedicated to volunteerism. A central part of this initiative is a program that allows employees 16 hours a year to volunteer their time for an approved charity organization of their choice. During business hours, and while still being paid, employees have the option to choose a cause, and use company time to volunteer with a corresponding charity.
Fox also describes that this initiative indicates the values of the Crowley Maritime at large—reflecting that the company is willing to invest company resources into the charitable causes that matter both to their employees and to the communities Crowley operates in. This program is currently the largest program within Crowley Cares, and one that has proven to be sustainable, as it is particularly popular among employees.
This focus on volunteerism comes at a poignant time–amidst a pandemic in which both individuals and charities are in need of volunteer efforts. This past year has also seen a devastating rise in climate disasters—such as the recent Hurricane Ida—in which the need for volunteer relief efforts is at an all time high. Fox asserts that as situations such as these arise, Crowley Cares works to establish programs to meet the evolving needs of the communities affected. For example, Crowley Cares recently set up a site through amazon and gave people an opportunity to purchase resources and ship them down to people in Honduras that have been dealing with extreme flooding.
Some of the recent Crowley Cares employee volunteerism initiatives include improving and painting orphanages, schools, and homes for seniors throughout Central America, volunteering to raise awareness and honor past and current military and maritime service members’ contributions, collecting and donating clothes and supplies to mariners and veterans in need, as well as providing resources for victims of abuse and people facing poverty across the U.S., such as Clare House in Anchorage, Alaska.
Health & Wellness
Additionally, a primary part of Crowley Cares is centered around health and wellness. “Health and wellness are critical in our communities, and we are happy to support families in the military as well as the overall community with the American Heart Association and the USO in Jacksonville. The activities provide a holistic approach to healthy families and epitomize the Crowley Cares commitment to our communities,” says Fox.
Crowley Cares frequently holds activities such as run- walk events, for different causes, such as diabetes, or the Red Cross to name a few. On September 11th, the foundation made a donation to the American Heart Association, and participated in the Heart Walk benefiting the cause. In doing so, Crowley Cares enables employees and their families to engage in healthy practices themselves, while also contributing to causes dedicated to the health and wellness of the community. “It’s an opportunity to rally folks around, to get outside, to be healthy, and be with other employees,” says Fox.
Fox further explains that the foundation is currently in a process of recalibration—one in which they are working to determine what exactly employees are looking to get out of the foundation, and how the foundation can further meet those needs. There is currently a Crowley Cares ambassador at every key Crowley location, and the board meets every two weeks to discuss the ever evolving process of meeting the health and wellness needs of both Crowley employees, and the communities in which the foundation aims to serve.