Softchoice Cares: Reflections (Part 2)

KenyaBuildThe following is the second post in a series of four that are running every Thursday throughout March. Read the previous post by clicking here: Part 1.

Softchoice’s corporate giving program, Softchoice Cares, is led by an all employee board. Over an 18-month term, the board supports all employee philanthropic programs in the communities across North America, and they plan and execute an international mission in support of computer literacy in an underprivileged community overseas.

The current Softchoice Cares board’s tour of duty is coming to an end this month. Before they hand over the reins to a new group of volunteer leaders, I asked them to reflect on their experiences, lessons learned, and advice for the incoming board and other organizations.

What was the single most rewarding experience during your time on the Softchoice Cares board?

“My most rewarding local experience was being able to give back to Operation Sack Lunch in Seattle, which provides three wholesome meals a day to those in need. For my first couple of years at Softchoice, I saw so much money go to charities like these, but I had no real investment in it. It was enriching to see the money go to a place that makes my city little bit better 365 days a year.”

— Diane Rodriguez, Regional Ambassador (US West)

How has serving on the Softchoice Cares board given you new skills or abilities that you apply to your daily work?

“My multitasking skills have definitely been tested. It’s a lot of responsibility to take on, but seeing how even the slightest effort can create a ripple effect throughout the company and our communities was a motivating factor for me.”

— Alex Drozd, Regional Ambassador (US Central)

How has your experience on the Softchoice Cares board better connected you with colleagues and the company’s overall mission, vision and values?

“Seeing firsthand the impact access to technology can make for people in communities at home and around the world has made me appreciate even more what Softchoice does on a daily basis. It’s something I will carry forward in my daily work. “

— Heather Brown, Chair

What is the one thing you learned from your time on the board that you wish you knew on day one?

“If you try to do everything on your own, you will burn out. There are a lot of people who want to help. All you have to do is ask. Plus it’s more fun to run events with a team!”

— Jen Wood, Regional Ambassador (Canada)

Based on your experience in Maai Mahiu, Kenya, what is your Number 1 tip for the next group going on an international mission?

“Remember that although the conditions you are going into may seem out of the norm to you, this is how they live on a daily basis and they don’t necessarily know otherwise. Don’t cast judgments going into the trip, but take away everything you can from understanding their day-to-day struggles. Learn the difference between aid and development and maximize every moment you have using this methodology.”

— Ian Zagrodney, Volunteer Lead

What advice would you give to the incoming Softchoice Cares board?

“Get to know each other early. You’ll work with other individuals from all over North America, and from different roles within the organization. Everyone is different and has a different style of working and communicating.”

— Alex Drozd, Regional Ambassador (US Central)

What advice would you give to another company that is looking to form an employee-led philanthropic initiative like Softchoice Cares?

“You need to make decisions, and not be afraid to speak up.”

— Craig Bator, Vice Chair

“It’s ideal that the board represents a good cross section of employees to represent the organization, both in terms of geographical location and their roles within the company.”

— Heather Brown, Chair

About Joel Hoidas

As Manager of Communications, Joel Hoidas is responsible for all of Softchoice's corporate communications functions from public and media relations and brand management to internal communications that drive employee engagement.