Employees of Mercedes Benz Financial Services spent Friday morning cruising around Farmington Hills, getting to know the community better and volunteering their time with local non-profits.
The company's third annual road rally involved eight steps that were completed between 8:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., with photographs and team-building challenges along the way. Jenn Korman, who works in community relations, said teams volunteered at , the Eight Mile Boulevard Association, a arts camp and Beyond Basics, a nonprofit that gives kids the opportunity to publish their own books.
"Elementary age students write the books, which are bound by volunteers," Korman said of Beyond Basics, a Detroit charity. "Many of the students don't have any books in their home."
Groups also helped the Eight Mile Boulevard Association, by landscaping an area in , just west of Gill Road.
"We call them our fairy godparents," said Tami Salisbury, the Association's executive director. "Without our corporate donors, a lot of what we do on Eight Mile Road could not be completed." Investing in improving the border between Detroit and its suburbs, she said, gives donors a stake in the road and transforming its image as a "connector", rather than a "divider".
Salisbury said Mercedes Benz Financial Services is a stand out among the Association's corporate supporters.
"Not only do they require their employees to do community services, they coordinate those activities," she said. "They don't just talk the talk, they walk the walk."
Korman said giving back to the company's non-profit partners is one of three purposes for the road rally. It also stresses team-building, and employees learn more about the company's vehicles, which were on display at some of the stops.
"A bonus of it is that so many of us work here but don't live in Farmington Hills," she said, "so this is an opportunity to showcase the city."
Jelena Jelich, the company's new director of communications, said the event also contributes to a "fun work environment. It is not always just about the work, it's about enjoying coming in to work each day."
For Waterford resident Allison Schreiner, an intern and student at Oakland University, the rally provided a unique look at the company. At every stop, teams could see how Mercedes Benz's charitable contributions were put into action, she said.
"It's cool to see what Mercedes Benz does in the community," Schreiner added, "because I wouldn't necessarily get to know all that."