Celebrating International Volunteer Day the best way we know how

Pay It Forward


Happy International Volunteer Day! All over the world, today marks an opportunity “to shine a light on the impact of volunteer efforts everywhere.” What better way for us to celebrate than by sharing the stories of just a few of the folks on our team who’ve been out doing good in the community?

Since the 2015 inception of our Pay it Forward (PIF) Day program, we’ve been using our time and talents to make a difference at the organizations about which we’re passionate. Read on for a quick peek into just a few of the last few months’ many PIF Days thus far… plus a very special dispatch from this year’s United Way Sponsored Executive!

Feeding the community with Harvest Manitoba

Near the end of July, nine members of Payworks’ Development, Labs and Quality Assurance teams headed across the city to Harvest Manitoba. This “Manitoba-based food bank network committed to ensuring no Manitoban goes hungry” is where so many members of Payworks’ team have spent a PIF Day and their time and talent to give back to our community, and for good reason: there’s always lots to do, whether it’s “sorting food, packing hampers, delivering food to food banks and more.”

On their PIF Day, this crew was focused on sorting eggs and baby formula to get nourishment to some of our most vulnerable neighbours. “Harvest Manitoba is always welcoming and organized,” they said. “The team walked away with a sense of accomplishment, a great understanding of community, and a heartwarming experience.”

Two staff sorting egg carton donations.

Photo: From L-R – Jared Castillo and Connor Bean from our Software Development team get cracking on feeding hungry Manitobans. 

Keeping cozy (or should we say… “kozy?”) at Koats for Kids

As the weather started turning colder in September, thoughts of the winter ahead became inevitable... and six members of our Quality Assurance (QA) team set their sights on making this season safer and more comfortable for our youngest community members.

Koats for Kids is a United Way Winnipeg initiative that distributes over 6,000 donated coats and other winter gear across the community. And as they say: “we run on volunteer power!” So Payworks folks happily got to work on sorting, packaging and prepping warm clothes and winter boots for delivery to schools and community centres all across the city.

“Our day at Koats for Kids was great!” these QA superstars shared. “We started our day early and fulfilled more than 20 different orders during our shift. We were also accompanied by staff who provided wonderful support… and coffee to make the day run even smoother.”

Two staff checking order sheets.Photo: From L-R – Quality Assurance Analysts Mankaran Singh and Amarjeet Sharma leveraging their excellent eyes for detail to organize the day’s orders.

Building hope with Habitat for Humanity

In early October, six members of our Business Operations group banded together in support of Habitat for Humanity – a “non-profit housing organization that believes everyone deserves a safe and decent place to live” and longtime PIF Day favourite among our staff.

“We got to help build what will eventually be a five-plex housing unit,” explained the Business Operations crew. “Everyone on the team had a great time building, working together, and using our brains (and big muscles)… and it was a great way to bond as a team. Most importantly, it was a great way to give back to our community. Thanks, Payworks, for providing us with a PIF Day to do so.”

Six staff in Payworks t-shirts and hard hats.

Photo: From L-R – Mike Sims, Rachel Haynes, Trevor MacHutchon, Katie Hall-Odwak, Norah Hidara, and Warren Penner of Payworks’ Business Operations team putting their building skills to work on the job site.

“Opening my eyes and heart” as a United Way Sponsored Executive

PIF Days aren’t the only way to get involved in the community through Payworks! We caught up with this year’s United Way Sponsored Executive (UWSE) – Product Support Specialist Cheryl Costen – to hear about her experience thus far, find out what she’s learned, and share her recommendations for anyone else considering a similar opportunity in the future.

“I’ve been supported by the United Way in the past, so this was an opportunity to give back in a real tangible way,” said Cheryl. “It’s been a big switch in routine, and there’s no such thing as a typical day! One day it’s email correspondence with my accounts and catching up on paperwork; the next day it could be attending events to support the Campaign Chairs for my accounts, or getting out there picking up pledge forms and donations.”

Cheryl’s favourite part of being a UWSE? She says it’s a tie. “One of my favourite parts is seeing the enthusiasm of the Campaign Chairs. Even small organizations put in a ton of work to bring awareness of the United Way to their staff. And my other favourite part is speaking to the work of the United Way at campaign events – it’s been especially meaningful to me, although it took a few tries to hone my speaking skills. Everyone is super understanding though – they know this isn’t our regular job!”

That kindness made for an easy transition from the Payworks team to the United Way crew. “The atmosphere here at United Way Winnipeg is a lot like Payworks,” Cheryl explained. “Kindness among staff and cooperation towards a common goal are hallmarks of both organizations. I’ve actually been a bit surprised at the ease of meeting new people, because I’m such an introvert!”

This has also changed Cheryl’s long-term perspective for the better. “This experience has opened my eyes and heart to all the goodness of so many individuals working to make our community better.”

Her advice for anyone else looking to pursue the UWSE experience: “Do it – you’ll grow in so many ways! Solid leadership training, tons of fun, meeting wonderful people, and an amazing group of fellow Sponsored Executives and United Way staff make the experience so worthwhile… not to mention the food!”

Payworks staff talking into a microphone.

Photo: Cheryl addresses the team at Payworks’ United Way Workplace Campaign wrap-up event in October 2023.

Seeing is believing!

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