Monday 5 December was International Volunteer Day, which is all about celebrating the power and potential of contributing to the communities in which we live and work. It’s also about raising awareness on the important role volunteers play in responding to challenges facing the world.
At Xero, we actively encourage volunteering through our Community Connect program, which gives all employees one fully paid day each year to volunteer for a cause that’s important to them. In the past year, we’ve seen our people get involved in everything from habitat restoration, to tree planting, gift wrapping to animal fostering, election officiating to meal preparation.
Xero employees love having the opportunity to give back to causes they believe in. Here’s how a few of the team have spent their Community Connect time this year.
Lauren Waters – SPCA – Toronto, Canada
Lauren used her Community Connect hours to foster and socialise a litter of kittens through Dorset Rescue Kittens. She brought the five little kittens – Beatrice, Adeline, Stella, Poppy and Eleanor – into her home at five weeks old and sent them off to their new families at three months old.
“They were fun, adorable – but also a lot of work too. All of the kittens got sick with a nasty bug, and we spent eight days having to manually feed one of the kittens which is very tough to do,” says Lauren.
“I can’t say enough about how much effort goes into making sure these adorable little kitties get a chance at life. It was so rewarding to see them adopted out to forever families and was so grateful that I could use my Xero Community Connect hours to take them to appointments and transport them to their new homes.”
Cameron van Baarle – New Zealand Men’s and Mixed Netball – Wellington, New Zealand
Photo: Keetz Captures Photography
Cameron used his Community Connect hours to support a cause he’s passionate about – growing netball as a sport for everyone.
“New Zealand Men’s and Mixed Netball is a volunteer organisation that relies on community support to thrive. I was honoured to be asked to offer my marketing skills to support their teams by running their social media, organising and taking media interviews, running post-match interviews – and even being the stadium DJ!
“Since then, I’ve continued to lead the marketing and contribute what personal time I can. Usually this commitment is outside of work hours, but this series had some afternoon games so it was great to be able to use my volunteer hours. My manager was also really supportive of giving me the flexibility to make this volunteering opportunity work.”
Tamara Somers – Glen Eira FC – Melbourne, Australia
Tamara Somers has been volunteering with Glen Eira FC for a little over five years.
“It’s the largest community football club in Victoria and has a philosophy of ‘football for all’, providing a range of programs from elite pathways to professional football and national teams, to regular competition for boys, girls, men and women, social football, all abilities and wheelchair football, a Soccer Mums program and even walking football!
“I use my professional skillset in strategy, communications and sustainability to support Glen Eira FC to grow brand awareness in line with the club’s values, access funding and work with local government and football associations.
“Most of my volunteering – including setting up our social media presence – happens out of hours, but I was able to use my Community Connect day to help out at the launch of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 volunteering program, which the FIFA team and Football Australia chose Glen Eira FC to host. As well as thanking the hundreds of volunteers who keep our club running and promoting the benefits of volunteering, we hosted several Matildas players and the first appearance of Tazumi, the official mascot of the FIFA WWC23 in Australia and NZ.”
Berlin Liew – Coastrek – Victoria, Australia
Berlin and some of her product design team trekked 30km (almost 19 miles) through Coastrek.
“Coastrek is Australia’s premier charity hiking challenge for women, and offers charity walks and fundraising opportunities. This year, we raised more than $4,000 for Beyond Blue, an Australian mental health organisation, which gives support, advice and referrals to Australians living with anxiety and depression, as well as people impacted by suicide.
“We trekked 30km along the coast and it involved road, bush, and beach walking. The trail was stunning and it was a brilliant way to bond with my team outside of the usual digital channels such as Slack and Google Meet.
“As someone who has personally felt their anxiety rise to new levels since the pandemic, this walk meant a lot to me. I’m also really grateful that Xero coordinated the opportunity to enable us to do this trail and give back to the community by offering Community Connect – living up to our #team and #human values.”
Maura Stransky – Lowcountry Leukemia & Lymphoma Society – South Carolina, United States
Maura is a member of the Lowcountry Leukemia & Lymphoma Society leadership team. The LLS is a global leader in the fight against cancer which funds lifesaving blood cancer research, provides free information and support services and is the voice for blood cancer patients seeking access to quality, affordable, coordinated care.
“As a key volunteer in the leadership team, I worked on the Visionaries of the Year campaign. My work has involved focusing on fundraising, recruiting and advocacy of the campaign and promoting highly motivated individuals in my community leading the way in the fight against blood cancer.
“This year, I used my Community Connect to meet with a potential candidate to encourage him to accept his nomination… and he did! Once he accepted, I was able to begin helping him put his team together and plan a strategy for his fundraising goals.
“Having the opportunity to use a paid day to support organisations such as LLS allows me to take time out of my busy work schedule and give back to the community.”
Winnie Giang – Beach clean up – Toronto, Canada
Winnie jumped at the chance to clean up a local Toronto beach on Earth Day, with some colleagues.
“When the opportunity came to volunteer with Xero to clean up the beach in Toronto for Earth Day, I thought it would be a great place to meet other staff from the Toronto office.
“On the day, I was extremely nervous, because I was still new to my role and I didn’t know anyone else that was going to be there. Luckily when I got there, I was warmly welcomed by the other volunteers, and spent the next few hours cleaning up Woodbine Beach. We had a lot of great laughs, conversations, and I got to meet a ton of other employees from the Toronto office.
“I’m really glad I stepped out of my comfort zone to volunteer with this great group of people, and I can’t wait to use my Community Connect day again next year.”