Employee Volunteers Enrich Communities From the Farm to the Theatre and Beyond

Cisconians delight in contributing to their communities in a variety of ways including at the local theatre, farm and library. Cisco’s paid Time2Give benefit encourages team members to volunteer at the places where their passions thrive.

How should you decide where to get involved? Customer Success Program Manager Kate Pydyn advises: “Find something that speaks to your passion while giving back. There are so many opportunities that involve being outdoors, crafting, teaching skills you’ve developed, telling stories or providing comfort.”

With ten paid days a year to give, these Cisconians demonstrate that building relationships with people, the arts and the earth can increase fulfillment, connection and community.

Harvesting good will

Urban farming is an issue very close to the heart of Petra Hammerl, a senior enterprise customer success manager who works on Duo Security. Hammerl frequently volunteers at Farm City Detroit, part of Detroit Blight Busters. Using Time2Give, Hammerl has shared the experience by “bringing a crew of awesome co-workers which has been amazing and a lot of fun,” she said.

Petra Hammerl, Kate Pydyn and Emily Gennrich give their time at Farm City Detroit

“It felt great to take action! There are so many problems in the world, and I often feel powerless to make a difference. What I did was small, but with all of the volunteers together, the work that was done makes a real difference in the lives of my neighbors.” – Kate Pydyn

Pydyn and Emily Gennrich, a manager of operations for security customer success at Cisco Secure, joined in on the fun by contributing to multiple facets of gardening from weeding to harvesting food. “It felt great to take action! There are so many problems in the world, and I often feel powerless to make a difference. What I did was small, but with all of the volunteers together, the work that was done makes a real difference in the lives of my neighbors,” Pydyn said.

Community connections at the library

Senior Communications Manager, Brand Strategy & Design at Cisco Secure Chrysta Cherrie spent her Time2Give as a sighted assistant at the VISIONS vendor fair, hosted at the Ann Arbor District Library Downtown. “I was really happy to take some time to volunteer at the VISIONS vendor fair for people who are blind, visually impaired or physically disabled,” Cherrie said.

Learning how to be a sighted assistant was “a reminder that we can do more when we can rely on each other. Taking the time to better understand how someone makes their way through life gives you a chance to build empathy,” Cherrie said. She escorted attendees around the event where exhibitors offered products and services like electronic readers, leader dogs and transportation. There were also talks throughout the day and Cherrie helped attendees navigate between the presentation and vendor areas.

Meeting attendees of the VISIONS vendor fair and experiencing how meaningful the event is also moved Cherrie. The fair “brings out folks throughout southeast Michigan, so there’s a good chance that the person you’re assisting will run into some friends, and getting to see people connect like that can’t help but make you feel good,” Cherrie said.

Lights up on employee volunteers

Jenny Callans, a senior design researcher who works on Duo Security, serves as the chair of the Friends of the Detroit Film Theatre’s Auxiliary, a part of the Detroit Institute of Arts. “We support the mission of the Friends of the Detroit Film Theatre to make great niche films accessible to audiences,” she said. To do that, the organization is responsible for building a community of film fans and overseeing how donations are spent.

Volunteer

For Callans, the most meaningful part of using Time2Give to support the FDFT and the DIA is sharing her love of film with others. Time2Give supports her duties as FDFT chair, and gives her a sense of connection when she’s visiting the DFT to take in a movie. “Sitting in a theatre next to my young adult son, but surrounded by strangers watching a film that is unusual or unexpected but which moves me and challenges me to think is the best part hands-down,” Callans said.

Employee volunteer program multiplies impact

From supporting youth to volunteering at community hubs, Time2Give “is a fantastic opportunity to have a long-lasting, meaningful relationship with your community by volunteering as a board or committee member! Having a long-term presence with an org is amazingly impactful, for you and for the organization,” Callans said.

Time2Give is one of Cherrie’s favorite things about working at Cisco. She says, “Take advantage of the opportunity! Time2Give is a great way to give back to your community and the people and causes that you care about.”

Stay tuned for more posts celebrating the community engagement Time2Give fosters and check out our open roles to join in on giving back.


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