It was during the work week, but for two days the only contacts made by Ralph Verni -- the president and chief executive officer of State Street Research & Management, Boston -- hadn't reached double-digit birthdays and were far more interested in painting paper fish than in retirement plans.
In celebration of the company's 75th anniversary, State Street employees spent two days working in the neighborhoods of Boston.
On the first day, Mr. Verni and co-workers went to the Haddy B. Cooper Community Center, a Boston area child-care and education center for children ages 3 to 12 years.
They spent the day hard at work helping the children do crafts, dispensing ice cream and escorting the investors-in-training to a New England Aquarium traveling exhibit.
The following day, Mr. Verni and his team of about 40 volunteers went to the Jubilee House, an education and counseling program, where they did some "heavy lifting."
The team worked on the facility and its playground, and planted flowers and bushes, he said. The expenses for both days were mainly paid for by the company.
The community service idea came up when Mr. Verni and his senior management team were batting over ideas about ways to celebrate the company's 75th anniversary.
"Our first instinct was 'let's throw a party,' " Mr. Verni said. "But the management committee and I all said, 'No one here needs another dinner.' "
Once the service idea was posed, it really gathered momentum within the company, Mr. Verni said. Employees organized the two-day event and assigned duties. "Titles made no difference," he said.
And organizers ended up with more volunteers than they could handle, he added.
In addition, State Street gave each entity a donation of money and gifts such as books, games and stuffed animals.
"It feels good," said Mr. Verni, during an interview after the work day at Jubilee House. "And we did not suffer in business activities."
He added: "Everybody is so high on this, we'll probably do it again."