Viacom Awards Employees Who Exemplify Volunteerism with the Viacommunity Awards

By Azaleah Peterson and Michelle Chan
Jun 3, 2019 11:35 AM ET

Viacom’s Corporate Social Responsibility force has a simple mission – to better the communities which Viacom serves, and to make a positive social impact on the people and areas where we work and live. Each year Viacom employees nominate fellow employees who have done great work in the sphere of social good for the Viacommunity Awards. Through this award, employees are empowered to go out and promote change for a chance to win a $10,000 donation for a non-profit organization of their choice.

This year, the Viacommunity Awards honor Elena Nebiolo and Amy Eicher. Both embody the Viacommunity spirit and values of creative excellence, teamwork, opportunity and inclusion. Read on to learn more about their award-winning volunteerism and the causes they elevate year-round.

Passion meets purpose

For Elena Nebiolo, Account Manager of Brand Solutions & Trade Market from Viacom’s Italy office, integrating her love to travel and passion to help others brought her to Emergency, an independent and neutral Italian organization founded in 1994 to provide free and high-quality medical and surgical care to victims of wars, anti-personnel mines and poverty.

The opportunity to meet Gino Strada, founder of Emergency ignited her to step onto the field to help out. “I was attracted to the culture of peace, solidarity and respect for human rights that characterizes Emergency’s work. Emergency offers victims a second chance at life, something not obvious for those who live in uncertain circumstances. These are everyday people— women, children, and men guilty of having found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

This June marks her third year volunteering, a work that has also included on-the-field experiences in Sierra Leone and Sudan. Traveling to Africa made her realize the unfortunate and unacceptable realities that many people all over the world are forced to face. Many children are exposed to malaria and serious malnutrition but have little to no access to resources. Due to financial difficulties, the hospitals of Emergency are their only hope. Elena spearheads the communication efforts at Emergency’s Turin office and works collaboratively with the team over at the Emergency headquarters in Milan to enhance the NGO’s fundraising strategy and keep the organization running to provide medical assistance, build hospitals and train local staff in at-risk communities.

Although we highlight Elena’s work, she emphasizes that it is the Emergency team that deserves the praise; “the direct witness of the strength, energy, enthusiasm and positive charge of the international staff are who I consider as heroes, but these are the kind of everyday heroes of the newspaper who do not need applause or limelight, almost unaware that what they do every day is fully part of the world of the extraordinary.” Through countless surgeries, checkups, and patients, it is a true testament to the dedication of the entire Emergency organization globally. Every child who walks through the doors represent a story of hope and perseverance. Through the work of volunteers like Elena and many others communities are able to come together to put a smile on the faces of patients who deserve it the most.

To receive the 2018 Viacommunity Award means great honor to Elena— she thanks Viacom for being a safe space that allows her to speak comfortably about her volunteerism efforts and allows for her voice to be shared with the community. She is proud to announce that this award’s $10,000 donation will go to building a fundamental hospital for surgery. Because as Elena emphasizes, every individual has a fundamental, inalienable ‘right to be treated.’

Empowering organizations through expertise

Amy Eicher, Senior Producer at Comedy Central, uses her expertise in digital strategy and social media to help improve the lives of those in her local community, especially those affected by incarceration. She works with a number of social justice organizations and is being honored this year for her work with Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB). CURB was founded in 2003 with a mission to reform the criminal justice system and shift public spending from policing to human services.

Amy’s desire be involved in her community stems from her ability to recognize her privilege and leverage her advantages to promote positive change for others. She first got involved with criminal justice reform in L.A. through the Reform LA Jails campaign, which is a ballot measure aiming to stop a $3.5 Billion jail expansion in Los Angeles County. “I’ve been living in Los Angeles for 10 years but hadn't been feeling like I was doing enough on a community level. It’s a great feeling to know what’s going on in my city and neighborhood, and that I can be part of effecting change in it. The work I do has made me feel more connected to the Los Angeles community.”

Finding that she can empower organizations to expand their impact with her digital prowess, she consults on digital strategy and teaches them how to operate useful tools. Amy believes that impact is more powerful when organizations own and drive the voice of their platforms. For someone who works heavily with the digital sphere, Amy can see the power and direct impact coming out of her social impact work.

Amy strategically services her community, and for her, it’s all about dedicating her time wisely.  “You have to dive in as much as you can but also know how to set boundaries. When I work with CURB, I have a call every other week. Since I know that will happen it's easy for me to block that out. I have monthly meetings around the Reform LA Jails campaign, and when we’re in full throttle I'll try to give up more of my weekends for that.” Amy is able to integrate her work life with her social impact work successfully. She believes it’s a great thing for Viacom to recognize balance as an important element to maintain a company culture which strives to improve the communities it touches.

She recommends Viacom’s skills-based Talent for Good program to fellow Viacom employees as a convenient, yet impactful way to get involved. It allows professionals to offer short periods of their day to service organizations through phone consultations, one-on one projects and team project opportunities.

Amy notices that since her coworkers have learned of her Viacommunity Award win, she has been engaging in more conversations about her social justice work. This aligns with a goal the Reform LA Jails campaign, to initiate 60,000 conversations about criminal justice reform. This goal is leading up to the March 2020 ballot, and will be measured by canvassing and in-person dialogue. Amy finds that this award has allowed her to make further impact and progress towards that goal by being able to use her platform at Viacom.