Jun 21, 2023

By the community, for the community

Medtronic employees make-over three schools in three days

When Olwi Abzueta learned a school in her community in the Dominican Republic (DR) needed help, she knew she couldn’t turn down the opportunity to make a difference.

When she joined Medtronic as an engineer in 2017, her colleagues in the DR often volunteered in the community, but there wasn’t a formal process for getting involved. To help, Abzueta joined a committee and led volunteers to do more.

With each effort, the team logged their hours with the Medtronic Foundation. The small – but mighty –  team continued to take on new projects, but found itself hitting barriers when trying to engage a majority of the local workforce.

In efforts to engage manufacturing employees in the DR and Mexico, the Medtronic Foundation reached out with an opportunity with Glasswing International, an organization that addresses the root causes and consequences of poverty through education and health programs that empower youth and communities.

For Abzueta, the goal was to make a local school feel like a safe and inviting place that could also function as a community center for families – many of whom work at Medtronic.


Almost 200 employees in Mexico and the DR came together to give three schools a makeover in three days. A majority of volunteers were manufacturing employees. They painted, built – and filled – bookshelves, and planted trees.

Revitalizing schools is about more than beautification. Studies show that a safe, healthy learning environment promotes attendance and helps students thrive socially, emotionally, and academically.

And that matters in areas that have historically been under-funded, where kids can end up dropping out of school to find – sometimes dangerous – ways to support their families.

“That’s the impact of a project like this,” said Mark Loyka, U.S. country director for Glasswing International.

Glasswing was founded to get community members involved in volunteerism. As Loyka puts it, “Who knows the community better than the community?”

“We empower people to have that agency in their own community to drive change,” he said. “They want to make change and have local knowledge, plus there is a real community pride when you have a school that not only looks good but has the resources for the students to thrive.”

And with the support of the Medtronic Foundation, which funded the initiative, Abzueta and her committee of local employee volunteers feel like they can do even more.

“It’s a lot of work,” she said. “But now with the help of a strong community, I don’t feel alone even if the goal feels unattainable.”

Even after the school makeovers wrapped up, the new relationship with Glasswing International, the local schools, and employees was just the beginning. They have stayed in touch and continue to deepen their efforts with Glasswing International – empowering communities and transforming lives.

See our employees in action.

The Medtronic Foundation is committed to supporting communities where Medtronic employees live by providing tools and resources that support volunteerism and giving. Every year, the Medtronic Foundation kicks off these efforts with Project 6 – named in honor of Tenet 6 of the Medtronic Mission – to maintain good citizenship as a company. 

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