● Sustainability Communications Supervisor
● 11-year Ford Employee
● Child Services Volunteer
I am a big believer in the power of love and charity. I believe that compassion for the weak has the power to heal and grow. When I see how this works—both within the Ford team and with the people we help—it just strengthens my faith in charity, in philanthropy, in corporate social responsibility."
Those are the words Tina Zhang lives by. A Ford China communications staffer in Shanghai, Zhang joined the company as an executive administrative assistant in 2009. An opportunity to volunteer piqued her interest, and she hasn't been the same since.
"Volunteering changed my career path at Ford," Zhang says.
After jumping at the chance to serve as a judge for nongovernmental organizations applying for Ford grants, Zhang has become a fixture in the volunteer world of Ford China. She was instrumental in gaining executive support for corporate social responsibility programs she believed in and took her zeal with her to the communications staff when she was promoted in 2012.
Today, Tina Zhang has a demanding role as sustainability communications supervisor of Ford China. Still, if there's a call for help, Zhang is there—whether it's cleaning up beaches, assisting in fire-prevention training or caring for orphaned children.
Through the Ford Volunteer Corps, employees are organized into teams to support four areas of basic human needs—environment, education, health and safety. Zhang guides the volunteers to ensure all four areas are covered.
Since joining Ford, she has been involved in more than 20 volunteer projects. And while she will—and does—do it all, her singular passion is for the children.
"I would like to share the story of the Shanghai Healing Home and Ford Volunteer Corps, how we witness the growth of kids there."
As a foster home for children from state-run orphanages, Shanghai Healing Home provides urgent medical care to children and babies with serious health issues. It also works with international adoption agencies for post-surgery permanent placement.
The team assigned to Shanghai Healing Home visits the children weekly in summer months and monthly in winter to play with them, read to them, and generally show them love. They also raised money among themselves to redesign the outdoor space with a "therapy garden" and build a large classroom for the older children to use for study.
"Ford volunteers went beyond the basic service and became the voice of the children who needed more space but couldn't ask for it. That's the success of how charity moves us to do more to care for people in need," she said.
"In 2017, we held a special charity show at the Healing Home with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, which had been touring China. Each volunteer held a disabled child in his or her arms, sitting on the ground, waiting for the performance to start. When it did, the kids suddenly stopped making noise and totally focused on listening to the music. Suddenly, I realized that music has no boundary and every kid is an angel even when physically or mentally challenged."
Zhang also helps organize an annual birthday party for all the Healing Home children each September "just to give them a fun time with decorations, gifts, cakes and games. It's a party."
The connection between Ford China staff and the children at Healing Home grows ever stronger as the relationship deepens. And the creative ideas of how to express that connection flow freely. A simple initiative involving the families of Ford employees is one of Zhang's favorites because it holds promise for sustainable change.
"We encourage kids of Ford staff to paint and draw for kids at Shanghai Healing Home. We collected more than 60 paintings. The foster home kids love the paintings. They are fascinated by the drawings and some of them even tell stories from the drawings, excitedly.
"That's an example of success: we are influencing the next generation to step up in charity and caring.
Managed by the Ford Motor Company Fund, the Ford Volunteer Corps is a global network of Ford employees and retirees who have contributed more than 1.7 million volunteer hours in community service projects since 2005. To celebrate 15 years of serving communities around the world, Ford Fund is recognizing 15 Ford Volunteer Corps All Stars—Ford employees who are dedicated to community service, and go above and beyond in their efforts to help people in need.