Meet 3 Pet-Loving Purina Team Members Giving Back to Their Community

Purina’s Annual PetCare Pride Day Brings Nestlé’s Purpose to St Louis, Enhancing Quality of Life Where We Live & Work

This month, 1,400 employees from Purina headed out into the St Louis area to celebrate PetCare Pride Day — the company’s annual volunteer day. During this its 16th year, PetCare Pride Day reached more than 20 non-profit organizations.

I spoke to three of the many volunteers about their experiences out in the community:

Margarett enjoys interacting with her colleagues’ pets

Margarett Wolf

Pet Specialty: Lover of all dogs

Volunteered at: Animal Protective Association

PetCare Pride History: 2017 is her inaugural event

How long have you been working on the Purina team with us?

I’ve only been with Purina for about 7 months, and it’s been a real whirlwind and a positive challenge. I certainly feel like I’m learning every day, and the team feels like a real family.

Do you have any pets at home?

I don’t have any pets at home, but I am a pet lover through and through. I really enjoy getting to interact with my coworkers’ pets. I love all the daily fun of walks and treats and playtime, plus having a pet-friendly workplace has been a great way to get to know my co-workers — it’s a pretty good deal.

So this was your first PetCare Pride Day?

It was — and I was picked as one of our team leads so I was really thrown right in, which was a great way to get to really connect with my colleagues. In a big organization like Purina I thought it would be easy to get lost in the crowd, but events like this where you really unite and go out, work with the community and give back to the pets that improve so many people’s lives — it creates a close bond.

Margarett making sure she doesn’t miss a spot on the wall of the APA

What can you tell us about the work of the Animal Protective Association?

Their mission is really similar to ours — they work to bring people and pets together, and Purina supports that effort. We already donate food and litter to the APA, so PetCare Pride Day was a chance to further that by giving the facility a refresh with a new coat of paint!

Do you consider yourself a good painter?

Well I’m 5'2" so only with the help of a ladder! I was in charge of the team painting the hallways of the APA, so I did a bit of climbing up and down to make sure we got everything covered. Other teams were out renovating the dog park, or interacting with the animals. I’m pleased with the finished result — I think the APA is too!

Paul has been volunteering with Purina for many years

Paul Cook

Pet Specialty: Spending quality time with his cat, Midnight

Volunteered at: Make a Meal

PetCare Pride History: Been around since the beginning

Okay, you have to tell us about Midnight first…

We’ve got a really close bond — occasionally I travel and she stays at home with my wife, but when I get back I can tell that she’s really pleased to see me and we spend a little time reconnecting with each other.

I believe you have a long history with Purina?

I’ve been with the company for more than 23 years now, and I’m a St Louis native. It’s really great to see how much the company is integrated with the community, because these are my communities too. The office is actually walking distance from the house I grew up in!

What is your history with PetCare Pride Day?

I’ve been volunteering since we first started doing the event, and I’ve been leading the Make-A-Meal team since it began, too. It’s a really great program — we put together ready-to-eat meals, things people don’t have to cook, and the meals are distributed to the homeless or to families who’ve been victims of domestic abuse through social service like AmeriCorps and Lydia’s House.

Paul and his colleagues discussing meal-prep strategy

Purina supports domestic abuse survivors in other ways too, with the creation of pet-friendly spaces at Urban Resource Institute in New York, and it’s just great to be able to give back the community. Giving to others is part of Purina culture and overall Nestlé culture. Around 150 employees joined the make-a-meal volunteer project on this one day alone to pack 7,500 meals in just three hours. That makes a big difference.

What does it mean to you, being from St Louis, to give back?

I’m in a blessed position where I have a home, food, clothes, health insurance, employment — things that we shouldn’t take for granted. I’m in a position to be able to help, and the community is right there outside our door. I think it does the heart a lot of good to share your blessings.

Kevin visiting one of 47 teams designing a dog house

Kevin Zufall

Pet Specialty: Listening to John Denver with his cat, Aspen

Volunteered at: Build a Dog House Competition

PetCare Pride History: Attends every year as a team lead

What is your history with Purina?

I’ve been with the company for 23 years, just like Paul! I grew up in St Louis, moved away for a short time and then returned to my home city. The local community only has good things to say about Purina, so everyone who works here is proud to do so. I’m happy to be a part of that.

I also love that people can bring their pets into the office — I regularly see one colleague who can navigate both her dogs through a revolving door, which is an impressive feat!

I hear you’re a bit of a dog house building guru?

I can certainly help people out if they need a hand! I’ve been the team lead on the dog house building activity a number of times — this year we had about 180 associates form teams to build 47 dog houses — some standard, some very elaborate and creative. The creativity is incredible — people come up with really smart ideas for the design of the houses, whether it’s designed to look like a canine firehouse or a food-truck selling dog-treats. It’s a really fun event.

The canine firehouse designed by one of 47 Purina teams

What happens to the dog houses after they’ve been built?

They’re donated to pet shelters for their community outreach programs or to provide shelter for dogs in their care. Some of the more elaborate and creative houses are used for pet shelters’ fundraising purposes — people go nuts for these houses at auctions! Each dog house is marked “made with pride by Purina,” and it’s true. During the activity, you see people from all different backgrounds coming together to do something fun and exciting, and give back to the community.

Very important final question — how did Aspen get his name?

I’ve always been a big John Denver fan, and he always sang about Aspen — the city in Colorado. When my sons were young they listened along too and naming the cat Aspen was really their idea!

Margarett, Paul, and Kevin are just a few of the Nestlé employees in the U.S. working to improve quality of life and contribute to a healthier future in their communities. Learn more about this year’s PetCare Pride Day and more Nestlé investments in healthy communities.