Be a light to your community

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Written by Allison Hines and Kara Roberts 

During this global pandemic, we’ve seen SAS employees band together, while staying apart. We know that there’s strength in numbers, and amazing things happen when we all bring our unique skills and abilities to the table. We’re proud of the creative ways our employees are giving back, like making masks and preparing food for their communitiesKeep reading to hear more stories of how our employees are graciously helping others during this crisis.  

A little help from friends makes a big difference

Lijun Chen and her friend deliver masks to a local hospital

Lijun and her friend deliver masks to a local hospital

When COVID-19 began spreading rapidly in the United States in early March, Senior Software Developer Lijun’s Chinese-American community in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, began working diligently to help. They started by fundraising for support and meals for people who lost jobs during the pandemic and by donating funds to local schools. 

When local hospitals began having shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE), Lijun’s community reached out to friends in China to help 

Lijun's community is donating PPE to local hospitals to show their appreciation.

Lijun's community is donating PPE to local hospitals to show their appreciation

Lijun ordered 15 KN95 masks and 170 surgical masks from China and donated them to Duke hospital and local health care workers. “I’ve also encouraged my family and friends in China to donate masks and ship them to the US,” she said. 

So far, Lijun has received 100 KN95 masks, which she donated to UNC Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit and Emergency Department. She’s also anticipating 700 additional surgical masks to arrive, which she will donate to UNC Hospitals. 

A few weeks ago, Lijun helped a friend of hers who is also coordinating donations from a connection in China. “I helped her collect addresses for the shipment, sort and receive shipments that arrived at different times, and then we delivered 14,000 masks to UNC Hospital,” Lijun said. “The staff was amazed and asked three times ‘14,000 masks – for real?’” 

Lijun said she loves seeing all community members coming together to help any way they can. “What struck me was there are so many friends and community members who have been working hard, in different ways, and giving back during this unprecedented time,” she said. “I am glad to be part of this community effort.” 

Keeping the passion to learn alive

Brooke volunteers at Gigi's Playhouse

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Brooke volunteered to teach art and yoga to students at GiGi's.

When Brooke, a marketing senior manager, was young, her grandmother volunteered by teaching a special needs class at her church. Brooke grew up helping her grandmother who would also care for these children with special needs in her home. As Brooke got older, she realized that she longed for something that her job and extracurricular activities didn’t fulfill. 

About a year ago, when she started volunteering at GiGi’s Playhouse, a center of enrichment for children with Down syndrome, she realized what that something was. Brooke and her 10-year-old son, Connor, began volunteering in the art and yoga classes offered there. 

When the pandemic hit and non-essential businesses started closing, Brooke knew she needed to continue her volunteerism with GiGi‘s. “I began recording workouts for the center to send out to the students,” she said. “I was then asked to lead a live weekly virtual ballet class.” 

Brooke's ballet class

Brooke's virtual ballet class is a hit!

Brooke said she got teary-eyed when she logged into the first class. “Looking at all their beautiful faces and how eager they were to take my ballet class was very emotional,” she said. “Teaching them is the highlight of my week. They are so talented and passionate – they teach me way more than I am teaching them.” 

Brooke’s efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. Michelle, a mother of one of the ballerinas and the president of the GiGi’s in Raleigh, is grateful for the impact people like Brooke are making for her family during this difficult time.  

We could not provide our families with these amazing virtual programs without wonderful volunteers like Brooke,” Michelle said. “I worried about the next several months as my daughter is part of the vulnerable populations. Being around her friends will definitely be different until a vaccine or therapy is available for COVID-19Brooke is incredibly appreciated, and she is truly making an impact in their lives.” 

Making family life easier for physicians 

Keith and his family

Keith and his family are renting their Airbnb property to local physicians during the pandemic

Keith, a senior product marketing manager, and his family operate an Airbnb in their neighborhood that usually caters to tourists visiting Portland. When COVID-19 restrictions started, reservations were cancelled. 

Although Keith was unable to continue to fill the rental with tourists, he was able to find a solution that would help local physicians. 

“We were talking to our neighbor, whose husband is a physician, about how extremely stressful it was on their family to have him treating patients and potentially bringing the virus home to them every day,” Keith said. “It forced the whole family to self-quarantine out of fear of spreading it to the community.” 

To make it easier for these physicians and their families, Keith subsidized a large portion of the cost of the Airbnb for the physician and a couple of his ER doctor friends. “By doing this, they can keep the risk down for their families, but still be close,” he said. “It’s a big stress relief for the family and allows them to focus on treating patients without having to worry about getting their family sick.” 

Thank you to these employees and all of those around the world who are giving back during this crisis. We’re grateful for your selflessness, compassion and creativity in this time of need. Every little bit helps make a difference!  

We could all use some good news right now. What are some ways you’ve seen people give back during this time? Share your stories in the comments below!   


LEARN MORE | COVID-19 Resource Hub

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About Author

Alyssa Grube

Associate Communications Specialist

Alyssa Grube is an Associate Communications Specialist focused on employee programs, culture, and employer branding. She’s passionate about the intersection of people + brand, and loves sharing the SAS story with the world. Seriously, ask her about why she loves SAS – just grab a coffee first.

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