Why We Volunteer: Supporting Our Communities

Levi Strauss & Co.
March 14, 2017

Levi Strauss & Co. encourages employees to take five hours a month of paid time to volunteer. Here’s how Nancy Lacsamana (Sr. Planner Kids and Accessories – E-commerce) uses that time:

What causes get you the most excited as a volunteer?

projectwetWorking to help young people and families. I do other projects — volunteering at Bike to Work Day, for example — but investing in underserved kids and families is really something that I can continue to help with beyond just one day.

I grew up in kind of a rough area in San Francisco, and saw a lot of people struggling, and I saw what really worked is being part of the community. Although I moved to a community close by, I was determined to still work with groups to improve services to the people who are most vulnerable.

That’s why I’m so passionate about the work that Larkin Street Youth Services is doing. Larkin is an organization that helps young homeless people get off the streets. A good portion of the kids at Larkin have left home because of abuse or an identity crisis of some kind — they come to San Francisco because we are a progressive city, and, yet, they’re out on the street. They can very quickly fall victim to abuse, drugs, and crime. They go to Larkin Street, which connects them to a host of services, from housing to job skills development. It has a pretty remarkable 70-percent success rate in keeping them from going back to the streets.

Larkin is one of the partners with whom LS&Co. employees will be volunteering for this year’s Community Day on May 4!

Another opportunity you’ve involved with is Project WET. Tell us all about it!

projectwet2Project WET is all about teaching kids about water conservation — a topic particularly close to LS&Co.’s heart, since we are working hard to reduce the amount of water that goes into producing our jeans. (LS&Co. is training all of it’s employees to be Project WET ambassadors by 2020).

We go into schools, and use activity-based curriculum to stress the importance of clean water.

We toss around a globe beach ball and use the ratio of how often the kids’ thumbs land on water to make a surprisingly accurate estimate of the 71 percent of water on the Earth’s surface. We talk about the fact that only .003 percent of the Earth’s water is clean and drinkable — which is really sobering. Then, we talk about what we can all do to use that water wisely — for example, you don’t have to wash your jeans every time you wear them. The most important thing we want them to leave with at the end of the class is the feeling that they can do something to make a difference.

What advice do you have for people who want to start using their five volunteer hours?

The first step is to think about what you’re most interested in. What are the causes that resonate with you? And then search out groups that can benefit from your talent. It’s a good way to meet people — which is important in the city, especially for people who have just moved here.

Knowing that LS&Co. values volunteering and giving back to the community definitely makes me feel good about working here. It’s such a great change of pace, a great way to learn about something new — and I truly believe that it makes me a better person as I get the satisfaction of knowing that volunteering can make a difference.