When the first employees of T-Mobile's soon to open Customer Experience Center in Rochester, N.Y. arrived in early 2023, there was much excitement among them about what kind of an impact they could make in their community. Within the company, it's known that the CEC's aim to deliver a best-in-class customer experience to connect people to the Un-carrier's products and services. But the team's goal of making a meaningful mark here extended far beyond the walls of the new 83,250 square foot space they were moving into.
“There were just eleven of us at first, and we said, ‘What do we want to do to make a big impact on this community?” says Shellie Long, an administrative assistant who transferred from a T-Mobile call center in Meridian, Idaho to the new facility.
In those early days, these "day ones," as they warmly refer to themselves, were spending time scheduling their year leading up to the center's official opening in 2024 and saw it as an opportunity to make space for other activities. They say they wanted to expand on their mission to create exceptional experiences for their customers to also impact future employees and the community positively through service and investment.
HOW YOU TOO CAN GIVE BACK THIS GIVING TUESDAY
T-Mobile is empowering its customers to take part in charitable efforts on a national scale through its T-Mobile Tuesdays App on Giving Tuesday, November 28. The company will be matching and donating up to 2 million meals to Feeding America. 44 million people face hunger in the U.S — including more than 13 million children.
Want to know more about Feeding America? Check out this video from Food Lifeline in Seattle to find out how you can help support your local Feeding America food bank before the new year with just the click of a button.
“Coming here to Rochester, we knew we were bringing up to 1,000 jobs to the area, and we knew that’s really going to be great for community, but what’s also important to the community is how we give back,” says Carrie Martin, a team manager who came from a T-Mobile Customer Experience Center in Tennessee. “Being able to immediately start that give-back process and lay the foundation of T-Mobile’s culture of giving and show the people of Rochester what they can expect from us, was important to me.”
Funded by the T-Mobile Foundation, which aims to make a difference by mobilizing the company's brand, technology and people for social good, the company encourages all employees to give back throughout the year in big and small ways, volunteering time or donating to charities they are passionate about. T-Mobile then matches employee donations dollar for dollar and matches volunteer time at $10 per hour, up to $2,000 per employee, per year, to an eligible cause of their choice. There is also the "Volun-T Grants" that allow employees to apply for funding from the T-Mobile Foundation quarterly to support local volunteer projects. Plus, during Giving Season (near the end of each calendar year around Giving Tuesday, which falls on Nov. 28 this year), every employee is given a donation credit to put toward an organization of their choice via an internal employee giving portal called Benevity.
Using these very resources, the team quickly identified a number of local organizations and got to work. Since they started early 2023, the Rochester CEC has supported 20 events with 560 hours of volunteering in the community. They also had some helpful local intel from their new leader.
Larry Petrone was born and raised in Rochester, but says he left with his wife to New York City long ago to pursue their careers. What he's experiencing now is the definition of a full-circle moment. He moved his family of five from the big city where he found success with T-Mobile managing retail stores for fifteen years for the opportunity to become the first director at the new Customer Experience Center back upstate.
"It's been very personal," says Larry. "This project would be incredible to be part of anywhere, but doing it in my hometown with the impact that it's going to make in Rochester has felt special. We have people who have relocated from 18 states here already and I heard early on they wanted to get integrated into the community not just personally, but also to help bring the brand to life throughout Rochester."
Larry Petrone joined about twenty others from his CEC Rochester team to help set up six hundred seats for The Center for Youth's largest fundraising event.
Since 2020, T-Mobile has given $27 million and volunteered more than 68,000 hours to support over 14,000 nonprofits across the U.S. during Giving Season!
The time spent with organizations like House of Mercy, Foodlink and Center for Youth, have already left a lasting impression on both the employees and the community. Shellie, who has a teenage son, says her time volunteering at The Center of Youth, which provides emergency shelter for kids ages 12-18, was particularly meaningful.
"We helped clean up the backyard at one of their safe houses and the kids were just so grateful," she says. "Someone overheard one of the kids saying, 'Well, I guess someone does care about us.' It just fired me up."
"We asked and they said yes," says Dr. Elaine Spaull, Executive Director for The Center for Youth. "We scheduled and they showed up. What we experienced when our T-Mobile colleagues joined us to make the community a better place was an authentic and open heartedness that reminded us that we are certainly not alone."
Carrie says she was personally moved by her time spent at House of Mercy, an emergency homeless shelter that also provides a soup kitchen, food pantry, clothing room, social services and more.
"Early on we were there twice a week, four hours each day," she says. "We did everything from cleaning cots and floors of the living spaces, to folding donated clothes, cooking and serving hot meals and cleaning up outside."
Carrie also says T-Mobile donated 440 pounds of food to Foodlink, which is affiliated with Feeding America, at a critical time after their warehouse was broken into and much of their food donations had been stolen and were in need of being replenished. (T-Mobile customers can also give back to Feeding America food banks on November 28th via the T-Mobile Tuesdays app.)
“We have about seventy-five people here now and we are growing and I feel responsible for hosting them and making sure they find their way in the city,” says Larry. “T-Mobile has changed my life and I see so many people, even at this site already, who have a similar experience of finding personal and professional success. They want to pay it forward. T-Mobile makes that really easy to accomplish. I’m so proud of what we’ve done so far and I can’t wait to see what else we do for Rochester.”