The pandemic has left many of us searching for that thing no amount of social media can ever replace – human connection. Being part of the Cisco community affords us an incredible opportunity to connect in meaningful ways with each other and in our communities. Giving back is central to our culture and purpose, and although we exemplify this every day at Cisco, Giving Tuesday is an opportunity to highlight and share what is meaningful to you and why.

Let’s start with what Giving Tuesday is and why it matters. According to the official Giving Tuesday website, “It’s a simple idea: whether it’s making someone smile, helping a neighbor or stranger out, showing up for an issue or people we care about, or giving some of what we have to those who need our help, every act of generosity counts, and everyone has something to contribute toward building the better world we all want to live in.”

I had the opportunity to speak at a give back event recently. I opened with a statement that I feel strongly about. If you can help another human, do it. Don’t think on it, just do it. I believe this at my core. We are living in a moment in time when genuine care and love carry more weight than just about anything else. There is no shortage of opportunities to help someone, get proximate to the experience of others, and make a difference.  Your voice matters.

I have supported the work of Covenant House for the last 7 years by rallying my Cisco colleagues to participate in their flagship fundraising event, the Sleep Out. During this event, supporters raise money by spending the night sleeping outdoors, where they experience, though only briefly, what it feels like to not have a place to call home. The leaders at Covenant House have shared many times that prior to Cisco’s involvement, they were losing ground fundraising. The monies raised are critical to providing services for young people experiencing homelessness. Without our grassroots efforts, many of the young people Covenant House serves would not have a chance to go to school, or have a career, a safe place to call home, or family.

A 9 tile photo collage of Cisco employees volunteering
Cisco employees from several different regions participated in the Covenant House Sleep Out, including our RTP campus in North Carolina (pictured above). First row, L to R: Santa Clara, California, Michigan, and Florida. Second row, L to R: Mexico City, Mexico, St. Louis, Missouri, and Boston, Massachusetts. Third row, L to R: Washington, DC, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.

For me, being part of the Covenant House effort has allowed me to have a deeper understanding of homelessness. Having this understanding allows me to use my voice in more ways than before. For example, if I hear someone say, “I wish homeless people would just get a job,” I can share my experience at a Sleep Out. After just one night away from my bed in the cold, I have a really hard time bringing my thoughts together at work the next day. I cannot imagine what it’s like to be homeless, and spend night after night after night alone and in the cold. I also cannot comprehend how we as a society can disregard humans. The time I have spent volunteering with this organization allows me to help highlight these struggles, but also showcase success stories of young people at Covenant House. To tell the story of a young person now in college, because they had a safe place to call home, is powerful. This work is tangible and helps put human faces to those experiencing homelessness.

A woman in a sleeping bag
I’m pictured Sleeping Out at Levi’s Stadium, 2022.

Covenant House is not alone in their need for partnership, support, and a strong voice in this world.

Organizations focused on food insecurity, disease research, disaster response, housing, education, environmental causes, social justice, veterans support, animal rescue, and many others rely almost solely on donations to provide key services.

What that means is that the need is there, and YOU have an opportunity to bring YOUR voice to something you care about.  What better time to get started than Giving Tuesday!

Here are 3 immediate things you can do to help make a difference in the world or your community:

  1. Research an organization that aligns to your passions and contact a local chapter to ask where they need help: https://www.forbes.com/top-charities/list/3/#tab:rank
  2. Volunteer at a local school, hospital, or homeless shelter. All have been deeply impacted by the pandemic and need volunteers now more than ever.
  3. Contact your local animal shelter. Shelters are full and in need of volunteer support for many different roles. Who knows – maybe your next best friend is just waiting to meet you at the shelter!

No matter what you do, prioritize giving back in your life.  “Join the movement and give – each Tuesday and every day – whether it’s some of your time, a donation, or the power of your voice in your local community.”

It is my sincere hope that through these acts of kindness, empathy, and action, that more people know they are loved and seen. A truly inclusive world, free of hate, neglect, and violence should be our collective priority. It starts with using your voice for change and there is no better day than today.


Rachael Chambers

Director, Strategy and Planning

People and Communities