A Focus on our Community Helps Us Look Forward

Wednesday, May 27, 2020
By: Stefanie Boe, Community Engagement and Site Enablement Lead


Bayer Marana employees volunteer in their community during the national pandemic.


In uncertain times, like we’re currently facing with the outbreak of the Coronavirus, it can be tempting to put up a wall around you, put your head down, and focus on getting to the end. That would be the easy thing to do, but the Bayer team in Marana, Arizona doesn’t look for the easy answer. We seek out the challenges others might shy away from. After all, we’re working to grow corn in a greenhouse in the Arizona desert. We’re here turning our dreams into reality.


So, from the first days of the pandemic our team talked about the challenges that our community was going to face. We looked for ways we could give back, because helping our neighbors is part of our DNA here in Marana. We started our volunteering mission by directing traffic for our local food bank as they transitioned to a drive-thru service. Our team members were committed to staying safe, maintaining distance and no contact. Despite the distance, we were close enough to see the smiles and hear the appreciation from so many people.


The following week, the team joined in a local produce distribution. It’s a regular event at a nearby middle school, but it took on a whole new significance in early April. The local parent-teacher organization who hosts the monthly event needed extra hands to back boxes and create a drive-thru as they prepared to meet the increased needs. Typically, 150 families take part in this produce distribution. The first Saturday in April, nearly 600 boxes were picked up and the numbers continued to climb the next week.


Brett Sowers, Bayer Marana employee, packing boxes of produce
My colleague Brett Sowers packing boxes of produce.


I remember looking at the cars lined up nearly a mile on that first morning and feeling overwhelmed. How would we get all the boxes packed in time? The line never seemed to stop. I must have hand-packed more than a thousand tomatoes that morning. But, through the exhaustion we realized this fresh food—which would ordinarily be going to a landfill due to lack of demand in the grocery stores—was going to families who really needed it. Any leftover food was donated to feed farm animals in the area. It was truly a win-win to help the community and reduce food waste.


Stefanie Boe and Koren Douglas filling boxes of produce for the community
A quick social distance selfie break with Koren Douglas.


The organizers quickly saw the increase in needs and stepped up the distribution that next weekend. We were better organized and prepared, leading to shorter lines and waits. Our team also understood the struggles these families were facing and were able to provide vouchers that allowed people to come get a free box on Bayer. It was so rewarding to see the how valuable the vouchers were to these families in need. It has been an emotional time and some tears were shed from volunteers and recipients alike.


As we prepare for two more produce distributions, I’m excited to roll up my sleeves again alongside my colleagues, to haul boxes of food and challenge myself physically, and to see the smiles and hear the kind words. I wish it was under better circumstances, but if we can all remember these moments of kindness, smiles, gestures big and small, and looking out for people we don’t even know, we’ll all be ready for whatever might hit our communities next.


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