By Steven Lowery

One of the key reasons I joined Cloud for Good was our commitment to the nonprofit sector. We work with nonprofits in various sectors that have amazing, inspirational missions, whose teams are having a radical, transformational impact. Coming from the nonprofit sector myself, I deeply value that sense of giving back to communities that have given us all so much. It’s why I love Cloud for Good’s Volunteer Time-Off (VTO) Policy.

Here at Cloud for Good, we can donate up to three days (1% of our time) per calendar year towards volunteering at an organization of our choice. This is part of our integrated 1/1/1 philanthropy model that Salesforce.com has inspired hundreds of organizations to adopt. Like Salesforce, Cloud for Good donates 1% of our time, 1% of our profit and 1% of our product to nonprofit organizations to aid them in achieving their missions. You can read more about how we do that here.

I decided to use some of my time while visiting family in Tampa, FL. The holiday season is a time to be with loved ones and to be thankful for things in our lives. I am not lacking much in my life and I wanted to show my appreciation for what I do have. In an effort to give back to the community, my family chose to partner  with the Hyde Park Food Pantry to serve the homeless population before Thanksgiving.

My day began preparing hundreds of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, as we weren’t just feeding patrons a meal, but getting them access to additional food for the holidays. It was inspirational hearing the stories of those that came out to help. One mother of three described how she once relied on services like these to feed her family and now that she’s in a place to give back, she comes every week to help. Another group of young adults were there as part of a local LGBTQQIA+ organization that supports the food pantry regularly and works closely with them in efforts to eliminate homelessness in the community as many patrons are LGBTQQIA+ youth, leaving home due to family conflict. As we were three quarters of the way through our mound of bread, donated from local shops, a bike mechanic came to help those that needed any repairs to their bicycles. Many of the Food Pantry’s patrons travel around to job interviews and engagements with a bicycle and this mechanic wants to help them get there. An additional service provided by Hyde Park is an area where those in need can receive mail. It was a breath of fresh air to see a community come together to do good.

Once the food was prepped, it was time to serve. Several patrons shared their thanks towards the volunteers that had come out that day and many even shared their stories with us. It was stories of families facing hard times, stories of our veterans and struggles they’ve faced since returning to civilian life – stories that are all too common in this day in age. Per the National Alliance to End Homelessness, “In January 2015, 564,708 people were homeless on a given night in the United States. Of that number, 206,286 were people in families, and. 358,422 were individuals. About 15 percent of the homeless population – 83,170 – are considered “chronically homeless” individuals.” There are tangible things that we can do as individuals to help reduce this number each and every day. I encourage you to visit their site to learn more.

Working alongside family and meeting others in the community is an opportunity that I will cherish and take with me for years to come. I hope that as you plan to spend time with those you love this holiday season, that you will keep those who could use some love in mind. Please consider donating some time or resources (or both!) and give to the missions that matter to you.

Happy holidays from our family to yours! #Cloud4GoodGivesThanks

Check out some other great volunteer reads from the Cloud For Good Blog:

Steven Lowery

Steven Lowery

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