From Headshots to Harvest: Cardinal Health, Mansfield Gets Creative with Fundraising

With skill, care, and hard work, small seeds give rise to abundance. 

At Gaining Ground, that lesson is underscored each day of each season—and we can’t help but recognize the parallels when we witness metaphorical seeds of community engagement flourish into deeper involvement with our hunger relief mission. 

That’s what happened with our friends at Cardinal Health, a global healthcare company that has inspired us with their philanthropy! 

What began as a single employee visiting the farm has evolved into a perennial partnership—and a creative corporate fundraiser to support our 2024 season!


Back in 2022, R&D Manager Elvia Evangelina Ramos Cienfuegos was searching for a meaningful way to engage her Mansfield-based team in community service. 

The department was growing, with new hires and contractors, and Elvia understood that hands-on service could also build camaraderie, trust, and care among her colleagues. So she turned to the company’s database of volunteer opportunities, Cardinal Health Gives Back, and came upon a new name—Gaining Ground

“That means someone at our company had volunteered before, and wanted us to know about it,” Elvia said. “As I learned more, it was clear that our missions aligned. Cardinal Health is a medical and pharmaceutical distributor, so both our labor and your labor is totally focused on meeting people’s needs.” 

On site, the connection grew even clearer, she said—and the experience of farming sparked joy with the Cardinal Health employees. 

“The team embraced the work,” Elvia said. “And it didn’t stop there.”


Since Elvia and her colleagues first visited Gaining Ground in 2022, she has brought 80 volunteers to work and learn with our team—including a group in April 2024 that helped us apply compost to vegetable beds so they may grow nutrient-rich produce for our neighbors in need.

“On that morning, it was raining and I thought, ‘People might assume the plans are canceled,’” Elvia said. “I texted everyone in the group a reminder:  ‘The farm work doesn’t stop, rain or shine.’ And everybody showed up.”

While volunteering on the farm, corporate employees strengthen the connection between their professional lives and our hunger relief mission—understanding through hands-on experience that we all have a unique role to play in achieving a resilient local food system.

“You sparked the flame in me to purchase some food from local farms,” Elvia said. “I live in Providence and this season I’ve signed up for a local CSA. Volunteering at Gaining Ground helped me realize that rather than buying something at the supermarket, I can find organic food that’s grown near my house. And the vegetables may be different—but then, I’m trying something new.” 

At Gaining Ground, corporate employees also get a glimpse of the hard, skilled labor it takes to grow enough food to nourish our community—particularly abiding by no-till principles that promote well-being for land and people. 

“We learn how the soil has so many microorganisms living in it, and you don’t want to damage their habitat,” said Evan O’Brien, a senior engineer in R&D at Cardinal Health who has been to Gaining Ground several years in a row. “You have to be careful where you step. It’s all very precise, and the fact that it’s done by hand—it can be far more difficult, but it’s also more rewarding.”


Motivated by his time on the farm, Evan decided to go a step further this year, and raise funds for the 2024 season at Gaining Ground. Rather than simply asking for donations, Evan took inspiration from another Cardinal Health branch and designed a fundraiser that would support employees while investing in a great cause. 

Evan hosted a  photoshoot for Cardinal Health Mansfield employees, where they could get professional portraits for the price of a donation to Gaining Ground. Evan also coordinated matching gifts from the company itself.

“This effort has reached people not only from Northern Massachusetts but also Central Massachusetts, all the way out to Chicopee,” Elvia said.

To spread the word, Evan combined old school with new school techniques: posting flyers around the office, emailing his colleagues, and posting QR codes to sign up. In the end, dozens of employees participated in the fundraiser—including some who didn’t even come in for a headshot—for a total contribution of nearly $2,300. 

“We would definitely do it again,” Evan said. 

Immense gratitude to Evan, Elvia, and the whole Cardinal Health team at Mansfield! Together we’re sowing seeds for hunger relief in Eastern Massachusetts. 

If you’re a corporate leader interested in bringing your team to Gaining Ground, you can learn more here:

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