In the summer of 2010, Veronica Recanati, Security Partner Account Manager for Cisco Italy, spent one month of paid time off volunteering at an orphanage in Tanzania. It turned out to be a life-changing experience not just for her, but for many of her colleagues in Rome.
In Tanzania, Veronica realized just one euro could buy ten meals for children. She realized more help was needed, not just in Tanzania, but at home in Italy and around the world. And she realized she wanted be involved.
“It was like a bomb that exploded in my head,” Veronica says. “I wanted to use my experience with Cisco to help.”
Today, Veronica is part of a very active Italy Civic Council – a group of Cisco employees that leads volunteer and charitable activities at the local level.
Recently, I visited Arletta Jorgenson, an American single mother of three who relies on food pantries to help feed her family (see video below). Arletta, who lost her job as an administrative assistant three years ago and has survived on public assistance ever since, reminds us that financial hardship can happen to anyone – our neighbors, our cousins, colleagues…and us.
In the U.S., 49 million people are “food insecure” (families with at least one member who sometimes is hungry because they can’t afford enough food), according to Feeding America. These people aren’t necessarily homeless – or even unemployed. In fact, more than a third of them have at least one working adult.
On August 17th, over 20 volunteers from the Cisco Enterprise and Mid-market Marketing group gave their time to support InnVision, Silicon Valley’s leading provider of housing and services for homeless families and individuals:
InnVision is a primary gateway for homeless families and individuals seeking shelter and resources that lead to self-sufficiency. Our comprehensive system of care promotes self-worth and dignity at multiple facilities throughout Silicon Valley, including shelters, longer- term housing options and service centers, each equipped to meet emergency and transitional needs of diverse, at-risk people. InnVision is…the Way Home!
Volunteers spent the day sorting clothing for InnVision’s store, prepping food for daily meals, and reading stories to children.
I recently learned that one in four residents in the San Francisco Bay Area is at risk for hunger, compared to one in six nationally. And more than 1 billion people worldwide are undernourished. Obviously, there is need and we all need to do more.
As one of the largest employers in Silicon Valley, we were proud to kick off Cisco’s Global Hunger Relief Campaign at the Second Harvest Food Bank warehouse in San Jose with an annual executive food sort event. Second Harvest recently launched the largest food and fund drive in the nation. Cisco’s goal is to raise a minimum of US$1 million in employee donations, which with matching funds, will provide over 8 million meals around the world.