Andi Owen is the executive vice president of Gap Global Outlet at Gap Inc. and member of the Gap Foundation Board of Trustees.
When I was in my 20s and a regional manager for Banana Republic in Los Angeles, several of my district stores partnered with a nonprofit to hire young adults with developmental disabilities. I saw how much their jobs meant to them, and how the experience influenced their lives. That was my introduction to giving back — I knew that I wanted to start doing more.
Recently, I had the opportunity to volunteer with a group of Gap Inc. employees at the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco, helping kids with homework during their afternoon Power Hours. This spoke to my heart, because my son is in the second grade and even second grade homework requires a little bit of attention and help. Sitting there doing homework with him, he’s so much more successful when someone is there answering his questions. Every kid is the same -- they all can grow into something amazing, but it does take a community to help kids be successful.
The Boys & Girls Clubs is an amazing institution, one that Gap Inc. co-founder Don Fisher dedicated nearly his entire adult life to. I was so happy that Gap Inc., our leadership, and Gap Foundation donated $1 million to the organization to help build the Don Fisher Clubhouse.
But frankly, I wasn't surprised. I have met so many people at our company who are actively involved in their communities. It just seemed like something people at our company would naturally do.
Volunteering makes a difference in our community, but I have found that it has also made a difference in my life. It has opened my eyes to what is needed outside of my own day-to-day world, and it has made me a more tolerant and open person and helped me realize how hard life is for many people.
As a working mom, I don’t have a lot of free time. But whenever I volunteer, I always feel so rewarded. Even if it seems like it’s going to take a big chunk out of the day, the view is worth the climb. It’s a stress reliever. When you’re sitting across from a kid or teenager and you’re helping them do their homework or talking to them about what they struggled with at home or at school, it helps you see what matters in life.