Written by Allison Hines and Kara Roberts
To encourage and inspire others to think of ways to give back during this pandemic, we’re sharing stories of how SAS employees are spreading compassion in their local communities. They’ve done everything from making masks and preparing meals for their communities to leading virtual dance classes and collecting supplies for hospitals. Keep reading to learn how our employees are lifting spirits during this time.
Brian, a senior solutions architect, loves to entertain. He’s been a performing musician most of his life and before the COVID-19 lockdown, he ran a Pub Quiz series at a local tavern in Foxboro, Massachusetts, one night a week, varying between trivia, Musical Bingo or a bar version of a game show.
When the quarantine happened, this stopped.
Brian missed the interaction with friends, so he started running his Pub Quiz series via Zoom. “I piloted Musical Bingo with a few close friends, then rolled that out to a group of friends, family, neighbors and anyone who anyone else thought to invite,” he said.
Initially, he gave out gift cards as prizes to the winners. However, during the third week of the lockdown, he realized he could use the games to do some good. “I can’t sew masks, so I had to rely on the skillset I did have,” he said.
As a way to give back, he changed the prizes to donations to a charity of the winners’ choice, with a specific emphasis on food pantries. “We know many people who lost their jobs and quickly exhausted their savings, so we wanted to keep the donations within the communities as much as possible,” Brian said. “And if the winner doesn’t have a local food pantry or charity, we’ve adopted feedingamerica.org as our default charity.”
Then a truly great thing happened. “People started wanting to sponsor the prizes! So now, for every session, one of the players sponsors the prizes and makes the donations in the winners’ names,” Brian said.
Brian offers games weekly and will even host a special game night with SAS teams. So far, he’s done sessions in all four time zones in the United States, a session in Canada and one for his own work team with people playing from Europe, Brazil and Mexico. Brian’s efforts have raised more than $1,000 for charities and have helped a lot of people deal with social distancing.
Words of encouragement
Beth, a principal software quality analyst, says that letter writing just might be her “thing.” She wrote letters to her brother during his first tour in Iraq, and she currently writes to her mother, who is a stroke victim and does not prefer to chat on the phone, two to three times a month.
“It’s something I love to do,” Beth said. “It’s small, but I believe people are really touched by a heartfelt, hand-written note.”
So, during the quarantine, she’s put her talent and penmanship to good use.
This month, the son of one of Beth’s friends will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in engineering and from a ROTC program as an Air Force cadet. Beth has heard for months about the excitement leading up to this accomplishment and about a celebration for the graduate and some of his cadet friends. But that all fell apart when both ceremonies were canceled.
Her friend still wanted to celebrate these graduates, so she asked for help from friends to create gift bags containing gift cards and household items and wanted handwritten notes to include in the bags. Beth immediately raised her hand to write letters to these young men and women.
“Since I don’t know the cadets personally, I had to imagine how it must feel to work hard for so many years — and have the ceremonies taken away,” Beth said. “Not just graduation, but also their commissioning and the proud moment when their parents pinned on their second lieutenant bars.”
Beth has also put her letter writing to use for the Center for Volunteer Caregiving in Cary. She saw that the organization was asking for handmade letters to distribute to older adults or adults with disabilities. So far, she has sent 10 hand-written letters with plans to write more.
“I think we all share the need to give back while the world adjusts to coronavirus,” Beth said. “But I’m not a health care professional, I can’t sew masks or cook gourmet meals. I am a writer, though. I love words! If I can write a note that makes someone smile or eases their sense of isolation, I’m delighted that I’ve found a way to make a difference.”
Friendly competition for a good cause
Although COVID-19 has cancelled most sporting events, Bas, a business operations senior manager, hasn’t let that stop him from competing. Bas is a youth coach and coordinates communication for his local youth football (soccer) club in Belgium. Due to the COVID-19 lockdown, the league has been unable to meet and play. To continue game play, and give back to his community, he started talking to some other clubs to start a friendly, but competitive, fundraiser together.
“It’s unique, as normally clubs never really talk to each other; each club minds their own business,” Bas said. “But in this case, we quickly agreed to join forces, and with 17 clubs we started a ‘virtual game.’”
Fans can buy virtual tickets for the game, each ticket costs five Euros, and for every 250 tickets sold, teams will score a goal. The aim is to score six goals or raise 7500 Euros. “All of it will go to an organization which supports individuals with disabilities to do sports. We wanted to help them and give them something to look forward to,” Bas said.
Bas is now enthusiastically engaged in this activity and is using the different communication tools of their club – the website, email and social media – to get club members and fans to support this initiative.
Although Bas has found that this has given him the opportunity to use his professional marketing skills and even develop new skills, like website management, social media engagement and fundraising, he’s most proud to be giving back to his local community. “It’s great to meet new people from the different clubs, enlarge my network and work on this together as one team,” he said. “I’m excited to really be involved in something which can make a difference.”
Thank you to these employees and people all around the world who are using their skills to spread kindness during this time. There’s strength in numbers, and every little bit of encouragement 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!