Let Us Not Get Weary in Doing Good: Finding Purpose in Giving Back

Published on: April 19, 2023
By Phillip St. James, Director, US CSR and Community Relations at Sanofi

Imagine having a job where you can directly see the impact you are having on helping people to stay clean and safe, to pursue their educational dreams, or to find the aid they need. Volunteers make a difference -- and as Associate Director, US CSR and Community Relations, I’m extremely proud to work for a company whose impact stretches beyond our products, and directly impacts the people we share a space with.

At Sanofi, we are driven to improve the health of communities. By investing in worthwhile causes, we put our commitment to corporate citizenship into action, providing contributions to support a diverse range of organizations and initiatives that we believe can make a meaningful difference for the patients we serve and in the communities we live in.

Sanofi employees and their family members volunteer at the Salvation Army soup kitchen.

Starting my career as an IT Network Analyst over 30 years ago, I always had a passion for giving back and volunteered often in my personal life. One of my most meaningful experiences was very early on in my career, serving as a Big Brother to 2 littles who I’ve now had the opportunity to see grow up and have families of their own. One of those littles has two children (both boys) and named them both after me (one son has my first name, and the other has my middle name). Currently I also serve on the boards of the Children’s Home of Easton and the Second Harvest Food Bank, and work with the Victory House, a men’s homeless shelter in the Lehigh Valley (Pennsylvania).

I can remember the day, though, when I truly feel like my profession chose me. After attending a company organized event with Habitat for Humanity over 25 years ago, after that experience, I was hooked in terms of pursuing “giving back” as a career. And it’s been a dream come true, much more like a very rewarding hobby than an actual job all these years later. It’s an honor to represent Sanofi in the Poconos and Northeast Pennsylvania, working with local hospitals focused on improving health equity, partnering with the local United Way to identify areas of need in the community, and mobilizing Sanofi colleagues to further engage in the advancement of STEM education.

Phillip and Michael Tukeva, United Way President, Monroe County, at the United Way check presentation. This signature program enables Sanofi to help the United Way combat the social determinants of health in Monroe County.

I was born in Harlem, NY, to a single parent, and come from very humble beginnings. I’ve seen the other side of what life has to offer and have always carried that passion for giving with me. At the start of my career, my first goal was to get my mother in a better economic state, and after doing so I wanted to be an advocate for young men who grew up without a father as I did, so I became a Big Brother. I’m inspired by boys who want to be the best men they can be, but don’t know how, and lack resources. This is a space where I felt my voice can be heard because I have experienced the same trials and tribulations.

As a father of 5, I also wanted to ensure my children could experience and learn from my past and the work I’m doing now, never taking for granted what they have and recognizing that it’s a privilege to be able to give back, that there are always others in need of help. Over the years we’ve volunteered together often at Heart-to-Heart International preparing pallets of medical supplies to be shipped to medically indigent countries and always ensured we gave back during the holidays by volunteering at a non-profit serving food to underserved communities. Currently we support Victory House, a shelter for homeless men locally, by preparing and delivering meals to the shelter on a regular basis with our church group.

Phillip St. James and his three sons

Giving back is so important because it helps us connect with others while making a positive difference in the world. Likewise, acts of generosity have a significant impact on others, often inciting notable changes in their lives as well. Through charity, philanthropy and other acts of kindness, we sow seeds of positivity and hope that they are truly contagious. And in the process, we enrich our own lives for the better.

Please join me in celebrating this National Volunteer Month by giving back or volunteering for a cause that is important to you. It really is amazing just how much impact one person can have in helping those in need.