When my family and I moved to Franklin County, N.C., in 2020, I always passed by the volunteer fire station. I knew that if I had a fire at my house at 2 a.m., I’d want to know people were coming to help us, so I should be willing to do the same for them. So, one day, I knocked on the doors and said, “Hey, do y’all need volunteers?”
They were like, “Yeah. We always need volunteers.” The Mitchiner’s Crossroads Fire Department in Franklin County, N.C., has only one paid staff member who answers calls between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Everything outside of these hours – evenings, nights, weekends, and holidays – is covered by a team of 22 volunteers. So, I joined up in October 2020, and I’ve loved it ever since. The camaraderie we have is phenomenal, and I’ve made friends for life. It feels very special to be giving something back to my own community.
When I joined Cisco AppDynamics in March 2021, I learned about Cisco’s volunteer matching program, where every volunteer hour for an approved nonprofit organization receives a $10 donation from the Cisco Foundation. Since my fire department is a 501 (c)(3) charitable organization, it was eligible for Cisco’s Matching Gifts program. I went through the process to get the department approved and submitted 437 volunteer hours for 2022, which the Cisco Foundation matched with $4370!
Because of my department’s nonprofit status, it also qualified for Cisco’s Bright Funds donation matching program. As my teammates and people in my organization started finding out what I was a part of, they began contributing the $10 and $15 credits AppDynamics gives us from time to time to my department because they know exactly where every bit of their donations go and how much impact they have.
With these funds, we can now host training courses at our facility — essential courses like CPR and firefighter rescue — thanks to better tech and internet speeds. We’ve also been able to buy a PPE kit that we wouldn’t otherwise have been able to afford for a couple of years. It’s made a big difference to the team, and we’re all so grateful. In fact, we keep joking that we need a few more people in the fire department to join Cisco!
It’s wonderful to feel that people within Cisco have got my back. Every manager has been so supportive, from helping introduce me to Cisco’s charitable programs to supporting my volunteer efforts. We make a difference with the work we do at Cisco and AppDynamics, but my team and manager tell me that, provided I’m not working on anything business-critical or time-sensitive, they’re happy for me to respond to urgent calls during work time if I need to. That kind of flexibility is unlike anywhere else, and I’m lucky to be there to help someone when they need it the most. The people I work with get that what we do at the fire department can sometimes mean the difference between somebody living and dying. They want me to make a positive impact through my volunteering and trust me to do that while also doing a great job at work.
I feel very thankful to work for an employer that is so committed to supporting people who want to give something back to their communities. I’d encourage other people to find an organization or cause they’re passionate about and then give whatever time they have to help it. And then, of course, they need to take advantage of all the different ways Cisco supports giving-back initiatives.
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