Volunteering is a great way for businesses to support the Great Lakes and provide employees an opportunity to get involved too. The Adopt-a-Beach program helps corporate sponsors engage in philanthropy, increase team bonding, and enjoy a day at the beach. We spoke to two sponsors about their experience. Answers have been edited for clarity and length. 

AMLI Residential is focused on the development and management of luxury apartment communities across the U.S. AMLI has coordinated two annual beach clean ups with Alliance for the Great Lakes, and have scheduled a third in July. They have cleaned up over 500 pounds of trash. We spoke to Marti Smith, manager, administrative services at AMLI about the experience. 

Amli staff group photo

Why did you decide to organize and sponsor a cleanup?

AMLI is dedicated to providing opportunities for our employees and residents to be good citizens and give back to the community in which they live and work in charitable and sustainable ways. The Adopt-a-Beach program was a perfect fit for our effort to identify a sustainably-focused volunteer activity for our Chicago corporate and onsite employees to participate in together. 

What is your office’s connection to the lakes?

With a focus on sustainability, our apartment communities are dedicated to using land, water and energy more efficiently.  AMLI works hard to provide initiatives and amenities that allow our residents to live more sustainably. AMLI’s national headquarters is located in downtown Chicago and AMLI owns and manages six apartment communities in the metro area.  We understand the importance of the Great Lakes to this region and want to do our part in protecting the lakes today and for future generations.

Why is philanthropy important to your business? 

Our AMLI Famli Volunteer program is an important part of the culture. The program helps those in need and builds community and connections among our team members and residents. Many of these activities are environmentally and sustainability focused. Whether it’s building a public park, packing items at a local community food bank or organizing a beach clean-up, AMLI is committed to giving back to the cities and neighborhoods we call home. 

How was Adopt-a-Beach received by your team this year?

The Adopt-A-Beach staff is always very helpful and easy to work with! The staff educated and assisted our team by explaining reasons and goals of our activity and communicating what items need to be picked up during the clean-up — and they are always standing by to cheer our team on to do more. Working with Alliance for the Great Lakes has heightened and strengthened AMLI’s focus on sustainability and has been a positive and fun experience for our team.

 What was the best or most memorable part?

Our team loves healthy competition so we encouraged our employees to pick up more trash than they picked up the previous year. For our first clean-up, we picked up 236 pounds of trash.  Last year, we picked up 262 pounds of trash.  

Meijer Grocery Store opened its first store in Greenville, Michigan in 1934. They now operate almost 250 stores in five Great Lakes states. Meijer hosted three Adopt-a-Beach cleanups in 2019 and is slated to do more in 2020. We talked to them about their experience. 

Why did you decide to organize and sponsor a cleanup?

Meijer is a Great Lakes retailer. Given the important role that these unique water bodies play in providing recreation, drinking water, economic opportunities, and cultural significance throughout the region, Meijer is committed to protecting them through actions like sponsoring cleanups and supporting organizations like the Alliance for the Great Lakes. 

Why is charitable giving/philanthropy important to your business? 

As a family-owned company, Meijer was built on a fundamental philosophy of enriching lives in the communities we serve. As a result, we donate more than 6 percent of our net profit every year to nonprofit organizations throughout the Midwest and sponsor hundreds of other family-friends events that are important to our team members and our customers, including those that help protect our environment. 

How was Adopt-a-Beach received by staff this year?

There was great enthusiasm from the Meijer team members who participated in the Adopt-a-Beach cleanups last year. Many of them were able to bring their families to participate and found that it was a great opportunity to teach their children about environmental stewardship. 

What was the best or most memorable part?

Our Meijer team members felt accomplished after seeing the amount of trash they were able to collect during these clean ups. 

Was there any impact on the staff after the event?

One Meijer team member remarked that she will never look at a beach the same way again. Now that she has the eye for spotting the small pieces of trash in the sand, she will forever do her part to keep our beaches clean!

These are just two stories of many from our corporate sponsors. Thank you to everyone who has supported the Alliance and the Adopt-a-Beach program. For a complete list of donors, check out our 2019 financials.