On a Mission to Give Back

On a Mission to Give Back

Todd Puyleart of Minneapolis is on a mission—to help build a home for total strangers.

Because when the first-year Medtronic employee’s family needed help years ago, people he had never met lent a hand.

“So it’s been kind of my way of giving back for all of the people who helped put my sister into the house she lives in with her husband and daughter today,” he said.

Todd and his co-workers “give back” through Project 6, a global Medtronic Foundation program that encourages its employees to volunteer—on company time—to make a difference in the local communities where they live and work.

In Memphis, Tennessee, Medtronic volunteers make breakfast at the FedExFamilyHouse for families of children hospitalized at nearby Le Bonheur Children's Hospital.

“Volunteering is a way that you can be involved in the community through Medtronic,” said Bre Jacobs, a Medtronic employee volunteering at FedExFamilyHouse. “It’s a wonderful thing that the company offers.”

Other Medtronic volunteers in Memphis repair picnic tables at a popular local park. 

“I grew up around this neighborhood,” said Medtronic employee and Project 6 volunteer Chris Tran. “I enjoy this park. And now that I’m older I’d like to give back to the park by volunteering.”

Even employees who stop working—don’t stop volunteering.

“We lived the mission during our work life,” said Ron Stuedemann, a Medtronic retiree in Minneapolis. “Earl Bakken, who founded the company, reminds us constantly that you can retire from work but you can’t retire from life.”

Stuedemann and a team of a dozen other retirees are putting together packets that will become "get well" cards for patients at a local hospital.

It’s one of nearly 400 volunteer events, in 37 countries, that Medtronic philanthropists participate in throughout the month of June.

“It’s named Project 6 because it occurs in the sixth month of the year,” said Kristine Fortman, Ph.D., Director of Global Engagement for Medtronic Philanthropy. “And it represents our sixth tenet, which is being a good corporate citizen. It represents bringing that tenet to life.”

Todd Puyleart says he based his decision to join Medtronic, in part, on the company’s mission to help others.

“I talked to a lot of existing employees in terms of what the environment was like, did they enjoy working there, etc.,” Puyleart said. “One of the things multiple people talked about was Medtronic’s willingness to give back to local communities wherever that is globally, where there are Medtronic offices, which to me was an important thing I was looking for in a company.”

That’s not unusual, said Jacob A. Gayle, Ph.D., Vice President of Medtronic Philanthropy and President of the Medtronic Foundation.

“What we’re finding in a global survey of millennials, is that individuals are choosing where they want to work based on the opportunities that they might have to give back,” he said. “During the worktime and even outside of their worktime. What I find fascinating is that’s been true about Medtronic for over 50 years,” he added.

According to internal surveys, 75 percent of Medtronic’s 85,000 employees worldwide volunteer, donate or give back to their communities in some way.

Many of them find there’s often little difference between giving and receiving.

“If you ever get an opportunity, anyone, to go out and give back to the community, they say it gives back tenfold," Puyleart said. “Whatever the expression you want to use, it absolutely does,” he added.