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International Volunteer Day: Making a tangible difference to our communities

Posted 1 year ago in Xero news by Rachael Powell
Posted by Rachael Powell

Today we mark International Volunteer Day and I want to take this opportunity to highlight Xero’s contribution to volunteering in our communities through our global volunteer program – Community Connect. Collectively, we’re making a tangible contribution to communities around the world, and to our own community here at Xero.

Community Connect is an initiative that gives every permanent Xero employee one fully-paid workday each year to volunteer for a community organisation. It’s our way of contributing to thriving communities and aligns to our #human value. 

Many non-profits are heavily reliant on the valuable contributions of volunteers. Not only do they help reduce operational costs, but volunteers bring new expertise and ideas that help support the delivery of vital services in the community. 

Volunteering is a powerful way to give back and help the community and it’s also great for staff wellbeing. I’m excited for my own volunteer experience early next year.

We launched Community Connect in April 2018, and our people have undertaken a huge range of activities as part of the program. We’ve seen our teams clearing shrub and gorse at Zealandia Eco Sanctuary in Wellington. Members of our Denver team have helped disabled children learn to ski. We’ve participated in a martial arts performance for senior citizens, held a Techy Tea Party and made countless meals for those in need, to name just a handful. 

In celebration of International Volunteer Day, here are some examples of how our people are having a positive impact in communities around the world. 

Sarah Shelly – WorkflowMax Partner Channel Manager, Sydney, Australia 

Sarah used her Community Connect day to volunteer for Wesley Mission, along with a group of more than 20 other Xero employees. The Mission brought together Xero Sydney and Frank Vickery Village, a retirement community, for a trip to Taronga Zoo. 

“Wesley Mission does a lot of awesome stuff within the community.” Sarah says, “They are big believers in doing as much good as you can for as many people as you can.”

Every Xero was partnered with someone from Frank Vickery Village and the group spent the day exploring the iconic zoo. 

“We checked out the seal and bird shows, had a stroll through the tiger exhibition and just spent the day chatting, building relationships.”

Sarah and her partner Lyn spoke about their lives, travel experiences and family, naturally and without awkwardness.  

The day was an emotional one for Sarah, as she only has one grandparent left. She says being able to share a smile and a hug with the residents was truly special. “My time with the residents reinforced the power of kindness and how something so small can have such a great impact emotionally and socially.”

Sydney team outside Taronga Zoo

Kat Sandford – Insights Analyst, Wellington, New Zealand 

Kat’s team working on the strawberry assembly line

The Strawberry Festival in Midland Park, Wellington, is an annual event that a group of our Wellington team support. Funds are raised for Mary Potter Hospice, which relies heavily on donations and volunteers to run their free services. Kat and a team from our Wellington office decided to lend a hand at the festival late last month. 

“I can’t commit to regular volunteer work so one off events like this make it really easy to help out for such an important service,” Kat says. “I’ve had a family member who received care from a hospice, and I will be forever grateful for the amazing care and support that they provided.” 

Volunteers worked to prepare and sell strawberry sundaes, for both people attending the festival, and corporate offices that had pre-ordered the frozen treats. “It was incredible to see the thousands upon thousands of strawberries that were gobbled up!”

About her overall experience volunteering Kat says, “It was overwhelming to see the generosity and endless support of people in our community. To be able to help pass on these donations and support to Mary Potter was very humbling. And because we have such a great culture which supports being in touch with the community, it meant I didn’t feel guilty about taking time away from work to do this.”

Overall, the Strawberry Festival raised over NZ$52,000 for Mary Potter Hospice.

Xero employees serving up frozen treats at the Strawberry Festival

Jennifer Matamoros – Central Region Sales Coordinator, Denver, United States

Jennifer used her Community Connect day this year to serve food to the homeless at Denver Rescue Mission. The mission houses and feeds homeless people in a sober environment and gives them work in the building. 

“It’s a healing facility,” says Jennifer. “I love seeing people who are beating their addiction and struggles. The mission is having a huge impact on the homeless population and provides a way for people to get back on their feet.”

“I love working with the people that live there and hearing their stories. I think it’s important to listen and those folks are so grateful for our time. It really puts things into perspective.” 

“Being able to have the time to go out during our work day and do this is an amazing perk at Xero. I still volunteer in my own time outside of these opportunities but I feel like the option to do it during a work day gives more opportunity that we wouldn’t get otherwise. It’s one of my favourite things here at Xero!”

Xero crew all smiles at Denver Rescue Mission

Abi Gabb – Customer Experience Specialist – Technical Bank House, Milton Keynes, United Kingdom

Abi gathered up a team of her UK colleagues and set out to do some garden maintenance at Keech Hospice Care. Abi was attracted to the volunteer work because of the amazing work the facility does for adults and children in their care.

“We spent the day gardening, painting and chopping down trees,” Abi says. “A lot of work we did went into cleaning and maintaining the hospice’s ‘Walk of Life’ pathway, which is a memorial trail for residents that have sadly passed away.”

“We turned up as a big group, and were able to complete jobs which the hospice wouldn’t usually have time to do themselves. Our work made it a much nicer place for the residents.”

Abi says that a highlight of the day was knowing their work on the Walk of Life pathway would mean a lot to family and friends visiting in memory of their loved ones. 

“Without Xero allowing us a day to offer our help, I would never have thought to volunteer at this organisation so am grateful we are gifted this opportunity.”

Working hard in Milton Keynes

For more information about International Volunteer Day visit the official website.

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