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Highmark Inc. Supports Employee Volunteerism Efforts with $5,500 in Community Grants

Employee Volunteer Grant Program funds community programs and activities

PITTSBURGH, Feb. 28 /PRNewswire/ -- Highmark Inc. recently awarded $5,500 in grants to nonprofit organizations through its Employee Volunteer Grant Program, an initiative designed to provide funds to community-based organizations through employee volunteers who know first-hand the most pressing needs of the agencies.

Four times a year, $500 grants are awarded to nonprofit organizations with which Highmark employees volunteer. These grants are generally awarded to organizations that do not already receive significant contributions through Highmark's corporate giving. The following 11 nonprofit organizations received grants through the Employee Volunteer Grant Program in the fourth quarter of 2007.

Boy Scouts of America, Cub Scout Pack 115 (Allegheny County) - Cub Scout Pack 115 teaches values, commitment and consideration of others before oneself. David Flory, Corporate Learning Specialist, became a volunteer for the organization to support his three sons and is currently the Cub Master to the 40 active Cub Scouts in the pack. In his role as Cub Master, David coordinates meetings, camping trips and other learning experiences for the young Scouts. David says that his most memorable experience was being able to help a shy Scout overcome his nervousness of camping and seeing his excitement about the next trip.

Boy Scouts of America, Cub Scout Pack 29 (Cumberland County) - Cub Scout Pack 29 assists in teaching values and developing character in boys ages 7-11. Elizabeth Dundorf, Technical Business Analyst III, is the committee chair for the pack. Elizabeth helps to coordinate pack meetings and helps each boy obtain his advancements. Last year, Elizabeth's Cub Scouts advanced to the Boy Scout level and are all working toward becoming Eagle Scouts.

Bridge of Hope Harrisburg Area (Dauphin County) - Bridge of Hope works to prevent homelessness in the community by helping families find housing and providing them with rental assistance on a decreasing basis, giving them adequate time to enhance employment stills and stabilize their family. Constance Fountain, Business Analyst 2 - HPO, is a board member for the organization and serves on the special events committee. Constance is responsible for decorating for fund-raising events and enjoys supporting the organization because each volunteer is committed to doing all they can to help women and children find shelter.

Girl Scout Troop 1925 (Cumberland County) - Troop 1925 provides a safe, nurturing and socially-enriching experience for young girls while they learn the concepts of good citizenship and community involvement. Jody Schmeltz, Administrative Assistant, is an assistant leader and helps to organize special events, provide transportation and coordinate other needs for the troop. One of Jody's most memorable experiences with the troop was during the holiday season when they went caroling for cans to donate to the local food pantry. The troop collected enough items to fill more than 10 large boxes.

Holy Name of Jesus Youth Football (Dauphin County) - Holy Name of Jesus Youth Football Program teaches more than 225 children the importance of physical activity, teamwork and sportsmanship. Annette Daniels, OPL/MSP contract specialist, volunteers as a team mom and provides organization assistance for the team. In addition to cheering the children on toward success, Annette enjoys seeing the young athletes having fun while being active and learning to work as a team.

Keystone Human Services - Susquehanna Service Dogs (Cumberland and Dauphin Counties) - Susquehanna Service Dogs trains and provides service dogs and hearing dogs to assist children and adults with disabilities to become more independent. Crystal Garman, Documentation Analyst 1 -- OPS, is a "puppy sitter" on the weekends and provides hands-on training for the dogs that are in formal training. Crystal is most proud to hear when a dog that she has been training will be graduating and transferring to their life partner.

Philhaven Behavioral Health Care Services (Lebanon County) - Philhaven Behavioral Health Care Services offers a wide range of services for children, adolescents and adults that provide healing, hope and reconciliation. Bob Lewis, Premium Accounting Analyst, is a member of the Board of Directors and works to provide individuals and families with skills and resources needed to live healthy, fulfilled lives within their families and communities. He enjoys being a part of the organization because of the difference it can make in a person's life and is touched to hear the testimonies from individuals whose lives have been impacted in significant ways through Philhaven.

Soroptimist International of Albuquerque (Bernalillo County, Albuquerque, NM) - Soroptimist International of Albuquerque works to improve the lives of women locally and world-wide by providing support services such as day care for the less fortunate and scholarships for women who are going back to school to improve the quality of their life. Joan Punt, senior account executive, has volunteered with and currently serves as president of the organization for seven years because of its focus on women and children. One of Joan's most memorable experiences as a volunteer was helping to assemble personal bags of toiletries that were given to the homeless at shelters and troubled teens at halfway houses.

Special Olympics Pennsylvania, Area M (Cumberland, Dauphin, Perry and York Counties) - Special Olympics Pennsylvania - Area M provides sports training and competition opportunities for individuals ages 6 and up with intellectual disabilities at no cost to the athletes or their families. Brenda Bailey, desktop services lead, volunteers at Special Olympic events throughout the year, including the Area M Fall Classic, and is a committee member. Brenda started volunteering as a way to spend time with her niece, who was pursuing a college degree in special education. Brenda's favorite thing about volunteering with the Special Olympics is having the opportunity to interact with the children and their families.

Stepping Stones Children's Center (Allegheny County) - Stepping Stones Children's Center is a child care center that offers care for more than 350 children ages infant through elementary school at six locations in the Pine Richland and Mars Area school districts. Douglas Smith, underwriter, has served as treasurer and president on the Board of Directors for the organization. As a volunteer, Doug enjoys most the camaraderie of the 55 employees for the center.

Susquehanna Folk Music Society (Cumberland County) - The Susquehanna Folk Music Society is dedicated to encouraging a wider understanding and enjoyment of diverse folk traditions through presentations of concerts, dances, workshops and educational programs. Jim Richardson, financial core business analyst, is a volunteer for the organization and coordinates the annual song writing contest. Jim is an advocate of the organization because of his commitment to maintaining our country's musical heritage and his belief that a healthy arts scene is essential to a healthy community.

About Highmark Inc.

As one of the leading health insurers in Pennsylvania, Highmark Inc.'s mission is to provide access to affordable, quality health care enabling individuals to live longer, healthier lives. Based in Pittsburgh, Highmark serves 4.6 million people through the company's health care benefits business. Highmark contributes millions of dollars to help keep quality health care programs affordable and to support community-based programs that work to improve people's health. Highmark exerts an enormous economic impact throughout Pennsylvania. A recent study states that Highmark's positive impact exceeded $2.5 billion. The company provides the resources to give its members a greater hand in their health.

Highmark Inc. is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans. For more information, visit

SOURCE Highmark Inc.
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