Business Notebook: Investing in the club

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Fidelity team nurtures partnership with the Boys & Girls Club of Manchester

Nothing like mulching in the rain. A team of volunteers from Fidelity Investments might have picked the wrong day to work on a landscaping project at the Boys & Girls Club in Manchester one cloudy day in May. But the downpour just made them get the job done faster.

About 25 Fidelity associates moved about 35 yards of mulch to get the Union Street clubhouse grounds ready for the spring. They had planned to work into the early afternoon, but they were done long before lunch.

“We’re just a group of people that are used to working together and working efficiently,” said Deb DiMarzio, head of FILI operational controls and business readiness at Fidelity Investments.

DiMarzio oversees a team at the company’s campus in Merrimack who focus on annuities and other financial products marketed by Fidelity Investments Life Insurance Company.

Sade Ray-Coleman, Nicole Garay Diaz and Erin McMahon of Fidelity Investments work on a landscaping project at the Boys & Girls Club of Manchester in May.

The Fidelity volunteers have been a consistent presence at the Boys & Girls Club since 2016, she said.

“We have a group that really loves to get engaged with the community,” DiMarzio said. “We felt that we were creating this connection with the club and decided to work with (Fidelity) community relations to see if we could kind of formalize this.”

The team’s projects with the club, which average four to six per year, have included raising money from associates at both Fidelity’s Merrimack campus and one in Utah to pay for school supplies for club members. The project culminated in a bus trip with club members to shop at a local Target.

This past school year, the group focused on the club’s teen members, providing $200 Visa gift cards to 16 teens to shop at the Merrimack Premium Outlets, the shopping center across the highway from Fidelity’s New Hampshire campus, where it employs about 7,000 people.

“The whole time it was it was life changing because they felt like, ‘Hey, somebody cared for me enough to do something like this for me,’” said Hashira Rodriguez, director of development for the Boys & Girls Club.

Spending time with the Fidelity volunteers also exposes club members to potential careers.

“I think everything that we’ve been doing these last couple of years has really been mission centered and really focused on what is going to make that big impact on our kids,” said Rodriguez, who grew up on Manchester’s West Side and was a club member in her youth.

A Fidelity drive to buy winter clothes helped keep club members warm one recent winter.

“It was like endless Amazon packages were coming of coats and boots, mittens, gloves, tons of stuff,” Rodriguez said. “Our family resource room was stocked with supplies for our kids. Parents and kids didn’t have to worry if they forgot a jacket or if they didn’t have a hat if it was too cold, because it was taken care of by their team, and that it made a huge difference.”

Jennifer Allard, Christopher Forbes, Shawn Dupont, Mark Walsh and Jessica Zucchi of Fidelity Investments worked on a mulching project at the Boys & Girls Club of Manchester in May.

 

Doro Koita returns for a mulch refill during a landscaping project at the Boys & Girls Club of Manchester in May.

Sheila Vargas, community relations manager for Fidelity, serves as liaison between the company and nonprofits.

“One of the things that I’ve noticed, aside from the efficiency of the associates, is the passion of the associates to give back to the community,” said Vargas, who recently joined Fidelity after working for The Nature Conservancy. “And so it makes my job easier, right? And harder in a sense.”

The FILA group stands out for its commitment. “We have so many groups of associates, business units who really want to give back as a team,” she said. “And then we also have associates who want to volunteer on an individual basis throughout the year.”

The landscaping event was a homecoming of sorts for Doro Koita, who recently joined Fidelity as a business specialist. Koita spent much of his teen years at the club, playing basketball, working on his homework and, later, volunteering.

“Today we came here and I spread around the mulch and all that, and it was pretty nice doing it with all my teammates,” he said. “They’re all cheering you on. We’re all working together, so it was a pretty good time.”