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Community Connect: Making a difference in our communities, one day at a time

Posted 6 months ago in Xero news by Janna Wilkinson
Posted by Janna Wilkinson

At Xero, we’re committed to engaging with and contributing to thriving communities around the world. As part of this, we launched our Community Connect employee volunteering programme in 2018, giving our permanent staff around the globe the opportunity to make a difference in their communities for causes they believe in.

Through this initiative, we give our people one fully-paid working day each year, to volunteer for an organisation that they believe needs a hand.

Since its launch in April 2018, Xeros have spent their annual Community Connect day making a difference in a huge range of organisations, including:

Our purpose at Xero is ‘to make life better for people in small business, their advisors and communities around the world’. Community Connect takes us one step closer to achieving this purpose. In the year since its launch, we’ve facilitated more than 2,800 donated hours for our communities.

Xero’s Community Connect lead in the UK, Meredith Cade-Westcombe, says the uptake in support for Community Connect has been fantastic.“Our teams feel really connected to the community, and they’ve been delighted with the opportunity to give something positive back. There’s such a range of causes and tasks – there’s been something to appeal to most of our teams, and a few of our teams have even used the day as some combined team-bonding time.”

Here are a few examples of how our people are having a positive impact in our communities.

Nathan Griffiths, Platform Team Lead, based in Auckland, New Zealand

Nathan gathered seven of his data services team members to paint a large wall at Glen Innes Primary School, to smarten up the area where the children played.

“It’s quite a small school, so they struggle to find money for cosmetic improvements. They’re trying to make the outside area a nice environment for the kids, and getting the wall repainted was one of their main goals.”

Nathan says the highest praise came from a little girl who came out of a nearby classroom to tell them they were doing a really good job, but, for Nathan, the highlight was his team getting to know each other in an environment outside of work.

“The Community Connect programme is a great idea which I’ve personally seen benefit several community organisations. It’s also a great opportunity for Xeros to get out of the office and achieve something outside of their normal work environment.”

The data services team putting in the hard yards at Glen Innes Primary School

Keith Soohoo, Senior Internal Client Support Engineer, based in San Francisco, USA

Keith used his Community Connect volunteer day to perform with his martial arts team, Kei Luan Martial Arts, during the Lunar New Year.

“Throughout the Lunar New Year, we perform for churches, stores, weddings and schools,” he says. “One of my favourite days is the Community Connect day, which I use to perform at senior centres all around Oakland’s Chinatown.”

“It’s tiring for us, but also very rewarding. It makes all the seniors feel young and vibrant again.”

Keith and his team performed a Chinese Lion Dance at Hong Fook Center, Oakland’s Asian community centre for the elderly

Sophie Forbes, Senior Customer Experience Specialist – Banking, based in Napier, New Zealand

Local non-profit organisation Nourished for Nil regularly benefits from Xero’s Community Connect program. Most recently, Xeros from the customer experience (CX) core, banking, payroll and data services teams rolled up their sleeves to pitch in.

“Nourished for Nil is an incredible non-profit organisation where they rescue good food that would otherwise go to waste and redistribute it within the community,” Sophie says.

“My favourite part of their stated purpose is that they won’t discriminate, judge or label any community members who find themselves needing their service.”

The Xeros spent their day assisting volunteers to prepare and sort fresh produce, clean the facility, organise dry goods and sort fresh and frozen vegetables and fruit.

“Then, when 4:30pm came around, we distributed the food to members of the community. It was amazing to see the impact it made on them.”

Sophie says Community Connect gave her the opportunity to get to know her colleagues better.

“Seeing everyone’s passion and dedication to helping within the community made us all become closer as a team and as an office. But the best part was seeing the appreciation of the people we were helping.”

The Hawke’s Bay customer experience (CX) team helping out at Nourished for Nil

Meredith Cade-Westcombe, Customer Experience Team Leader, based in Milton Keynes, UK

Meredith chose to use her Community Connect day to volunteer for Oxfam, along with some other Xeros from different departments. Their task for the day was to list donated clothing for sale on Oxfam’s website.

“We had to get a bit creative with our description to help them appeal to potential buyers! It was good fun,” she says. “By the end of the day we’d supported them in listing a huge number of items, which ultimately helps their revenue. They’d even sold an item listed by Xero by the time we finished for the day.”

Meredith says the impact her Community Connect day has on Oxfam is ongoing, not only because items her team listed will continue to be purchased in the future, but because the Xeros involved continue to share their experiences and the work Oxfam does.

“One of the highlights for me personally was finding a fluffy blue jacket that matched my hair! Also it was great to work alongside a couple of their regular volunteers, and hearing about not only what they give to Oxfam, but what they get back.”

Meredith shows off her find.

Dane Grashuis, Associate Campaign Manager, based in Denver, USA

An avid skier, Dane had often seen participants in Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center’s Adaptive Ski Program on the hill, but wasn’t sure how to get involved. So when a colleague, Molly Testwuide, reached out to him and other skiers and snowboarders in the office about volunteering, everything fell into place.

“I always found these programs incredibly interesting. They work with people of all ages who have a mental or physical disability. I’ve always loved skiing and getting to share that with people that wouldn’t traditionally get to experience it was an easy sell.”

Dane, who participated along with Molly Testwuide, Lee Sandler, Becky Asch, and Chris Rainey, says his highlight was listening to the team tell stories about the people they had worked with.

“There were so many different ways they helped these folks. Former athletes would find a new challenge and get joy in successfully conquering a new sport after not being able to ski they way they used to. Tiny things in skiing and snowboarding that I take for granted everyday were huge wins for some of them. It was very humbling.”

Dane saw at first hand the impact Community Connect has on the organisation, which is run by people who all have other part-time or full-time jobs, too.

“Community Connect gave me the time to get involved with this great organisation. It was just great being able to share something that I’m passionate about with others, and help an organisation that continually needs the help.“

Dane and his colleagues on the chairlift.

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