Paid time off to volunteer

Paid time off to volunteer
Lake Charles Urgent Care has piloted a program for its employees to take advantage of paid time off to volunteer, or VTO. (Source: KPLC)

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Scrubs and patient rooms are the norm for Dr. Jay Marque and his staff at Lake Charles Urgent Care.

But on this day, they have a change of tasks and a change of scenery, beautifying the property at Oasis,  a safe haven for survivors of domestic and sexual abuse.

"We're just basically freshening it up, we're organizing all of the donated goods in a garage and basically just going around the property and working on anything we see," said Dr. Marque.

What started as a personal mission for Dr. Marque's family this year to volunteer more time in the community, turned into a professional opportunity to offer something different to his employees: VTO or volunteer time off.

"After talking about it with my family, I decided to bring it to my coworkers," he said, "because I have this great group of coworkers who I felt like they might want to do the same thing, but not have the time."

Employees like Jennifer Springer have access to eight hours of paid time off to do community projects like this.

"The VTO is just a perk," said Springer.  "For me, it was just like getting involved in the community and doing projects like this, making the women's shelter look beautiful."

It is a win for these employees and a win for those at Oasis.

"Because of finances, sometimes we don't always have the means to do the stuff that they're doing today, so to have them come out and do this labor is amazing," said Oasis Director of Family Services, Ashley Chretien Williams.

While this organized group project had more than 20 people clocking in for their VTO, Dr. Marque says each employee has the option of picking their passion to give back.

"They have to do a volunteer project for an eligible organization, a local community project, and they just turn in their hours and they get paid for them," he said.

The weed pulling, raking, and painting has not exhausted this crew, grateful for the time they have been given to make a difference.

"They're already asking when our next project is," said Springer.  "We'll see!"

Volunteers with Barbe High's student Council, WAITR, and Landscape Management were also part of the project.  Sherwin Williams even donated the paint.
The 2016 Employee Benefits report by Society for Human Resource Management shows 21 percent of companies offer volunteer time off to their employees.

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