AbbVie volunteers explain their passion for community service

As they discover and deliver new medical innovations, our employees rise to challenges, learn from failures, and work collaboratively to adapt. That same determination to solve tough healthcare challenges can also be found serving our communities.

Year after year, AbbVie employees give back by making donations (matched by the AbbVie Foundation) to nonprofit organizations and the causes they support, and by volunteering throughout the year and during Opportunity Week, our worldwide week of community service events.

After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, in 2022 Opportunity Week is back in person for a seventh year. This year, approximately 15,000 employees in more than 50 countries are expected to volunteer in projects that will have a real impact on communities. Over the course of a week, volunteers will work with trusted community partners to complete hands-on projects aimed at strengthening local communities, expanding educational programs and having a positive environmental impact.

Among those participating this year are regular volunteers. Get to know a few of them and find out how their dedication and creativity had a significant impact and inspired them to keep giving back in 2022.

Amid a pandemic, Lake County employees showed their resolve

After first attending Opportunity Week in 2019, AbbVie Associate Scientist Essence Underwood was disappointed to learn the event had to be postponed due to the pandemic. Rather than seeing it as a moment of giving up, she and other colleagues in our developmental sciences team chose to see it as a challenge that they would eventually overcome. By reaching out to North Chicago Community Partners (NCCP), a non-profit organization that helps children reach their full potential, they set out to inspire students near AbbVie’s global headquarters when in-person volunteering was not Not possible.

“We reached out to NCCP to say, ‘Help us help you innovate,’ because we knew it wasn’t an option for us to just not try,” Underwood said.

Through their collaborative partnership, they offered multiple volunteer opportunities that would meet community needs and could be facilitated virtually. This included hosting a Careers Panel, which gave students the chance to interact one-on-one with our diverse scientists; build thank you kits for teachers in North Chicago; and organize a science day to interest 3rd year students in STEM.

“We had never done this kind of stuff in my department, so one of the biggest hurdles in the beginning was just knowing where to start,” says Underwood. “Once things got underway, we also had to learn how to involve students who faced their own challenges when studying remotely, such as an unstable home environment or poor internet access. Throughout the experience, our determination, flexibility and compassion are what have truly enabled us to continue to serve. »

Anticipating the return of Week of Possibilities, Underwood is all the more excited.

“I look forward to building on what we’ve learned in the past to hopefully have an even bigger impact in our community,” she said.

Puerto Rico volunteers go the extra mile to get the job done

Like many people at AbbVie, Gilberto Cruz-Jiménez, IT manager in Puerto Rico, has been a volunteer for as long as he can remember.

“Ever since I was a child, my parents raised me to always look for ways to help others,” he said.

Since joining AbbVie, Cruz-Jiménez has helped organize new ways to personally give back to the community by partnering with nonprofits and other colleagues. Their team started out small, with only a handful of people taking the initiative to coordinate events, but over the years it has grown and so has their impact. From repairing shelters for victims of abuse to meeting the basic needs of orphaned children, employees across Puerto Rico’s business and operations teams have stepped up to support their community.

“People here really want to help. It’s just amazing to see and it makes me proud to work here,” said Cruz-Jiménez.

In 2019, Cruz-Jiménez and her colleagues personally volunteered their time at Puerto Rico’s largest school for the deaf. Their task: to help paint the basketball court and buy an extra spotlight, since there was only one for the whole school. But, when the day of the service arrived, they rained, cutting the plan short. Rather than leave the project partially complete, Gilberto, his wife, and another colleague showed up later that week to finish the job and brought two new projectors with them.

“The administrator was surprised to see us come back, but we knew we had to. These children and our community deserve the best we have,” said Cruz-Jiménez.

Jill E. Washington