Helmer Scientific’s employees volunteer locally and internationally
Helmer Scientific is about impact – the impact on the science industry to improve and save lives; the financial impact of being a growing business, leading manufacturer and global distributor of laboratory equipment; and, most importantly, the impact of service on others.
In a ceremony at the Indiana Statehouse last month, Helmer Scientific was honored with the 2013 Governor’s Service Award for Corporate Service – the most prestigious award for volunteer service. Helmer Scientific was recognized for its demonstration of the very best practices in employee volunteer programs and impact for the local community. Programs of the organization include charitable giving, community service and corporate volunteer opportunities.
“We’ve always been philanthropic. We’ve done it in such a way that’s quiet, humble. We’re going to do it if anyone cares or not,” said David Helmer, owner of Helmer Scientific, a family business which has been around for 36 years.
In 2003, Helmer felt he was missing out on ways to energize more people and started talking with employees.
“I want to increase awareness of what generosity can do in a company and individual’s life,” he said. “My desire was to have it grow naturally. As a result I think it started to stir some people.”
Helmer Global Initiatives, the corporate social responsibility program of Helmer Scientific, was initiated later that year.
“The mission is to spread a culture of generosity by engaging individuals and organizations locally and globally at their highest level of capability to provide aid and justice for poor and vulnerable people,” Helmer said. “I don’t want to comfort the comfortable so we’re going to the hard places.”
HGI Director of Development Nataliya Mazur said the goal is to “go into communities and be influential there.”
“People do what is significant to them,” she said. “People are so open to help and to serve it is amazing.”
Mazur now works to cultivate people for service trips three, five and 10 years down the road.
“It’s a big step for quite a few people,” she said. “People want to do this; we’re just providing the environment.”
Through international service and expertise-sharing trips to Ukraine, Rwanda, Guatemala and Haiti, employees get a better understanding of poverty.
“Poverty in the United States is very different than in developing countries,” she said, adding when employees return they have a new appreciation for what they have.
“This environment is completely different – see real need and struggle right before them. You can’t fix it or forget about it. That causes change to a person’s soul. When they come back to their own place it gives them a different perspective,” Helmer said. “It’s not a vacation. It’s uncomfortable.”
Helmer said every employee is a part of the effort because since its inception, at least 10 percent of Helmer Scientific’s net profit has been used to make an impact on society through active philanthropy and volunteerism.
“What they are doing is making a difference. Just by stepping up and doing a good job they are a part of it,” he said, adding the level of volunteerism is left up to each individual. “We provide opportunities for people to experience personal meaning in a different way. For some it awakens their sense of service.”
Helmer said local efforts are important because “this is our community, this is where we live.” He added that it also provides an easier way for individuals to become engaged with the community and their peers outside of work. Helmer said the generosity philosophy is significant for morale and helps the company with recruiting and retention.
“We’re interested in having our people engage in something that is greater than themselves,” he said. “It is not just about doing good. It is about effecting change.”