MedAssets employees also have prepared and shipped nearly 16,000 care packages to military personnel serving overseas. The company sought recommendations to find out what deployed soldiers wanted in their care packages and created a “super care package” that is sent to members of a pre-selected platoon or company in a war zone every month or two.
This initiative was inspired partly by Bardis' introduction to a Marine named Oscar Canon by former Modern Healthcare Publisher Charles Lauer. Canon went through 77 reconstructive surgeries after his leg and abdomen were blown open by a roadside bomb in 2004. He eventually returned to the front as a military police officer, but he reinjured his leg and died from an infection earlier this year, Bardis says.
“That broke me in half, after all he had been through,” he says. “This guy had given everything, and then to die this way. These are people (who) deserve every American's respect. He's the guy who got us (motivated to send) soldiers care packages. People in the company, they feel this stuff, and they do something about it.”
Bardis also has served on the board of directors of Heart for Africa, which provides orphans and other vulnerable children with long-term financial support coupled with short-term assistance to help with food, water, clothing, healthcare, education and other services. In 2009, Bardis donated more than $1 million, helped raise another $800,000 and spent two weeks volunteering with his family at an organization in Kenya called the Mully Family Children's Homes that aids orphaned and neglected children. It was able to purchase a 2,800-acre tract to grow food and become self-sustaining.
Bardis became interested in Africa after reading a book titled It's Not Okay With Me and meeting author Janine Maxwell and her husband, who lead Heart for Africa. A MedAssets employee dropped Maxwell's book on Bardis' desk. “I read it, and it was one of those situations where you knew you could not look the other way,” Bardis says. “The stories of what was happening to children were literally devastating.”
Bardis recommended the company take action, “and everybody got behind it,” he says. “It's the entire organization led by our outreach group that actually goes and does something about it.”
To encourage similar desires to pay it forward among MedAssets' more than 3,000 employees, Bardis established the Heart and Soul Program, which provides five paid days off a year to serve at a qualified and approved charitable organizations. Employees dedicated more than 3,000 hours to the program in 2011.
“That encourages the employees” to come up with their own ways of giving back, says Clark, who has worked with Bardis for 25 years at four corporations. “The character of a company starts at the top and flows down,” he says. “Everywhere he's gone, the companies have been charitable in their focus and made an effort to try to ease the lives of people who have been in trouble.”
But Bardis insists his team deserves the credit, describing his own role as “somebody who's got another job and thinks this stuff is cool and wants to see it done.”