Virtual Community, Actual Impact

Posted by Donna Callejon on June 4th, 2013

Paul was a teenager when he was drafted into the United States (US) Army during the Vietnam War.  And when the US ended its military involvement in Vietnam, it was just the beginning of a longer battle for him.  He was later deployed to multiple other international posts, and when he finally returned home, he was left with little support and undiagnosed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  The disorder wreaked havoc on his life, leaving him homeless, unemployed, over-medicated, and depressed.

Today, with the help of Canines with a Cause (CWAC) and the generous donations of VMware employees all over the world, Paul has a second chance.  CWAC carefully partners veterans with the life-saving companionship of rescued shelter dogs.

“Many with PTSD remain hyper-vigilant, suffer from nightmares, and have difficulty sleeping.  The dogs give them a sense of security so they can sleep well,” explains CWAC founder Cathy King.  “When veterans have an anxiety or panic attack, we train the dogs to paw or bark at them, bringing them back to the present and not somewhere dangerous in their minds.”

photo courtesy of canines with a cause

photo courtesy of canines with a cause

More than four million healthy, adoptable animals are euthanized in shelters each year.  One in four war veterans will come home with PTSD.  The CWAC program prides itself on being able to save two lives at once — it helps both Paul and his former shelter dog reconnect with society.  “He has responsibility and purpose now,” says Paul’s friend.  “Through the CWAC program, he thinks he’s training the dog but really, he’s retraining himself.”

The VMware Foundation partners with the GlobalGiving Foundation to support the work of CWAC through its ‘Citizen Philanthropy’ approach to giving.  The VMware Foundation provides a platform for its more than 13,000 employees worldwide, enabling each employee to amplify his/her contributions to the community. One way VMware supports employee-led giving is through its Milestone Awards. Celebrating service with VMware, people receive charitable donation gift cards when they join the company and when they reach their 1-year anniversary. VMware people can direct the donations to a GlobalGiving charitable project that’s close to their hearts.

Gail Gilstrap, a VMware Engagement Manager based in the Washington, DC, area recently celebrated her 1-year anniversary with VMware. Gilstrap explains how the company has supported her charitable interests.

“There were a lot of organizations to choose from but I gave to CWAC because animals have always been close to my heart and my daughter is studying to be a veterinary technician.  A lot of my family has also served in the military so I thought, ‘what better way to support?’”

Another employee, Priya Kornalius, recently joined VMware as an IT Change Manager in Bangalore, India.  On her first day, she received a GlobalGiving gift card as a welcome gift from the VMware Foundation

“I was pleasantly surprised by the GlobalGiving gift card at first but, really, it has set my expectations for VMware — it’s a company that values people and giving back to communities in need,” says Priya.

“I’m from a small village in India and I’ve seen so many children who don’t have enough money for a better education,” Priya continues, “It was such a joy to donate to help schoolchildren in the Sundarbans (India).”

The Sundarbans is a remote delta region located partially in West Bengal, India.  About 80% of rural households in this state are not electrified.  This limits economic opportunity in the region and consequently, a high proportion of its dense population lives below the poverty line.

For schoolchildren, the lack of electricity means that at nightfall, it becomes simply too dark to study.  Kerosene lanterns are sometimes available but they are expensive, release dangerous smoke and fumes, and frequently cause fire accidents.

Priya used her VMware GlobalGiving gift card to provide solar lamps to children and classrooms in the Sundarbans.  The Indian non-profit organization, the Association for Social and Environmental Development (ASED), leads this initiative and has received more than US$12,760 from VMware employee Milestone Awards

Fourteen year-old Kakoli Giri received an ASED solar lamp in April 2012.

She comes from a family whose monthly income is just 2000 Indian rupees (US$37).  They practice subsistence farming and her father migrates seasonally in search of daily-wage work in Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal.

Kakoli is currently in the ninth grade and her favorite subjects are physical science and geography.  In the evenings, she uses the solar lamp to study.  She attends tutorial three times a week and during this time, her younger brother is able to use the solar lamp for his own studies.  Since receiving the lamp a year ago, Kakoli’s grades have improved and she has moved from 39th to 33rd in her class.

“GlobalGiving has been a wonderful partner,” says ASED project leader Diti Mookherjee.  “Together we are securing brighter futures for needy children.”

 

VM Ware Employees Share on VMLink, the company's internal social network

VMWare Employees Share on VMLink, the company’s internal social network

 

VMware continues to support the personal charitable interests of its employees.  To date, more than US$170,000 has been donated to more than 1100 projects in more than 100 countries throughout the world by VMware people starting their journey with VMware and those marking their 1-year anniversary through giving back to the broader community.

One Response to “Virtual Community, Actual Impact”

  1. Cece says:

    It’s really great how a group of people can create and establish world change, whether that be informing more about the causes or receiving hands on work. I love seeing how a person can make changes in a life–both animals and humans! Both hands on work and cause informing help to bring to the spotlight of all causes, and I love how these organizations do that! The Hamper, for example, is an organization dedicated to raising funds for several organizations through selling apparel. This week, they are focusing on poverty and eradicating it through education, and I think you should all check it out at http://www.thehamper.org! They not only focus on poverty and education, but also on other causes as well.