Amber Rose started volunteering for Henry Schein before she was even an employee. It was the summer after 10th grade, and Rose's older sister Charnette was working for Schein, the Melville-based medical distributor, as an internal auditor.
"They asked me if I might be interested in helping out with some of the volunteer projects," recalls Rose, who is now 28 but at the time attended Kellenberg Memorial High School in Uniondale. "I said, 'Sure, I'm not doing anything this summer.' I figured I'd do it for a couple days. Instead, I fell in love with it."
Rose, a Freeport resident, continued to volunteer through high school. She then attended New York Institute of Technology in Old Westbury, where she majored in architecture. While there, she continued to volunteer at Schein, helping the company with its cornerstone Back to School and Holiday Cheer community service programs.
In April 2010, just a month before Rose graduated from NYIT, Marsha Simpkins, the longtime volunteer coordinator at Schein, called her. "She said, 'We need someone to come on board, to do some traveling to the other Schein locations, and help coordinate our volunteer programs there,' " Rose recalls. "I said, 'That's great; I love traveling, love the company.' Besides, I didn't have anything lined up. There weren't many entry-level architect jobs that summer."
So Rose joined the department that coordinates the volunteer efforts of a corporation with a strong commitment to volunteerism.
"It's such a deeply embedded part of the culture here," Rose said. "And it comes from the top. They have a genuine concern about helping the community. We feel as important as it is to be successful in the business world, it's just as important to be successful in helping the community."
And that's not corporate image-polishing. The very existence of Rose's four-person department, which assists the volunteer efforts of 16,000 employees worldwide, suggests the company's depth of commitment.
For Rose, years of volunteering as a student prepared her for a career she never anticipated.
"Five years ago, I would have never thought this is where I'd end up," she said. "But I wouldn't change it at all.
"People are always telling me, 'You have the best job ever,' and in my opinion, I do. I make people happy, and you can't go wrong with that."
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The holidays will soon be winding down, and back-to-school is months ahead. But you can still get involved as a volunteer or donor for causes similar to Henry Scheins initiatives to help underprivileged children.
The need exists all year, said Diana ONeill, executive director of the Long Island Volunteer Center in Hempstead. Once the gifts and toys and backpacks are distributed, the empty shelves need to be restocked. You start anew. And thats a good way to start the New Year,
THE LONG ISLAND COALITION FOR THE HOMELESS in Garden City accepts donations of toys, clothes and school supplies for needy children any time. Children move in and out of shelters throughout the year, said executive director Greta Guarton, so we give out items to those in need year-round. Volunteers are also needed for the Coalitions Candlelight Vigil for the Homeless event on Feb. 13 at Farmingdale State College. Contact: 516-742-7770; addressthehomeless.org
THE JOHN THEISSEN CHILDRENS FOUNDATION. After having collected and distributed 76,000 toys in December, the foundation closes for three weeks in January, before starting up its year-round activities for sick and underprivileged children. People can help with our Family Fun Center, open seven days a week and weekends, and many other activities, Theissen said. We give the kids full parties, with goody bags and activities, for free. Donations and volunteers are needed for these parties. Contact: 516-679-5098; jtcf.org
For more volunteer information and opportunities, contact:
LONG ISLAND VOLUNTEER CENTER at 516-564-5482; longislandvolunteercenter.org