The Astellas Way Blog

Committing for Change: Volunteering More than Just a Day

Mark Niemaszek, Vice President, Commercial Operations, Astellas Pharma US, Inc

Dec 3, 2019

At Astellas, our commitment to people’s health extends beyond the medicines we provide—we strive to build a brighter future for patients, our people, our community and our partners. One way we do that is through volunteerism.

Volunteering has always been a large part of my life. My parents instilled in me the importance of giving back to those less fortunate. When I was younger, we’d travel to Wisconsin for vacations and along the way, we’d pass Lambs Farm - an organization that helps people with disabilities lead productive, happy lives. I remember my parents explaining about the work the residents did at the farm, how they learned self-reliance there and why that was so important for them and their communities. It made a big impression on me.

As an adult, I’m grateful to work at a company where volunteering is not only supported with five paid days off to donate time, but is also a part of our corporate philosophy. Along with many of my colleagues, I volunteer often at Lambs Farm and have received messages from residents about their appreciation of Astellas’ volunteer activities there. As a direct result of Astellas’ volunteer efforts, combined with many other donors, Lambs Farm has been able to increase its enrollment by 50 percent over the past several years, offering services this organization would not have otherwise been able to offer.

In my 28 years with Astellas, I have seen our commitment to volunteering manifest in many impactful ways; the one closest to my heart is through the company’s volunteer outreach efforts.  Astellas employees over the past decade have invested more than 140,000 hours of their time in our local communities through our Changing Tomorrow Day and #CommitingforChange programs.  

Changing Tomorrow Day

Astellas’ 10th annual day of service -- Changing Tomorrow Day – included nearly 1,000 Astellas employees volunteering this past September at 16 diverse community and patient organizations, homeless shelters and other nonprofits across the United States to make a positive, measurable impact in local communities.

In fact, at our corporate headquarters, Astellas employees packed 5,000 books for at-risk children; made more than 700 athletic bags; compiled 450 art kits; packed 600 hygiene kits and in Washington D.C., prepared 5,000 meals for distribution in homeless shelters, rehabilitation clinics, halfway houses and afterschool programs.

Committing for Change

Astellas offers the unique benefit of providing each full-time employee with up to five days of paid time off to support one or more 501 (c)3 charities of their choice. As employees take advantage of this program, the hours we donate make a direct impact on people’s lives, allow us to engage directly with patients and neighbors and provide a lasting, meaningful impact for many organizations. Last year, colleagues of mine helped collect supply donations for El Rescate, a transitional living program for LGBTQ youth; and we have a long-standing relationship with Fisher House, which provides accommodations to military service persons who are travelling for medical care.

Matching Gifts Program

In addition to these outreach initiatives, Astellas matches employee donations dollar-for-dollar through our matching gifts program to the American Cancer Society, the Red Cross, Starlight Children’s Foundation and Habitat for Humanity.

As employees, we’re proud of the work we do both in and out of the office and look forward to continuing to give our time and our support to countless organizations to help build healthier and more sustainable communities. Volunteering is at the core of who we are not only because it allows us to give back, but because it helps Astellas remember that providing help to others, whether it be patients, colleagues or the communities in which we live and work, is the true driving force behind our business.