Posts Tagged 'Giving'

December 24, 2012

Giving From (and For) the Heart

This time of year is often referred to as "The Season of Giving," and we thought we'd share two SLayers' stories about their involvement in the American Heart Association Heart Walk. Like last year, we split up into fundraising teams for the AHA with a goal of raising $100,000. In addition to those fundraising efforts, SoftLayer also encouraged employees to get active and get involved in the annual Heart Walks in Houston and Dallas. Here's our on-location coverage from two team captains who attended those events this year:

Dallas

My name is Fabrienne Curtis, and I work in the Accounting Department at SoftLayer. I joined a team with thirty other people (from several different departments) to raise money for the American Heart Association, and because I love to help and work on community projects, I volunteered to be a team captain. Our team had a ton of great ideas for fundraisers, so we set an ambitious goal of raising $12,400 ($400 per person). When the dust settled, I'm proud to report that we me that goal with a total team tally of $12,488 (which SoftLayer then matched).

Beyond the fundraising, participating in the Dallas Heart Walk at Victory Park was a highlight this year. No one on my team knew that this walk had a personal meaning to me ... I lost my dad to congestive heart failure and wanted to walk in his behalf. When I got to the Heart Walk, I was touched. There was a "Survivor Wall" and there were several signs where you could share who you're walking on behalf of. If not for SoftLayer, I probably wouldn't have participated in the Heart Walk, so as I wrote on the wall and created a sign for my dad, I thought about how good it felt to work for a company that truly cares about the well-being of its employees.

SoftLayer Photo Booth

SoftLayer added a little flair to the event by setting up a photo booth for people to take pictures and take home, and with the help of Don Hunter, Hao Ho and my husband Jerry, 679 photos were taken!

SoftLayer Photo Booth

Here are some pictures I snapped from the 2012 Dallas Heart Walk:

SoftLayer Heart Walk
The Start!
SoftLayer Heart Walk
The SoftLayer "Uniform"
SoftLayer Heart Walk
The Crowd
SoftLayer Heart Walk
Victorious!

Thank you SoftLayer for having a heart! If you want more coverage of this years event, check out this Dallas Heart Walk 2012 video and click through to our Dallas Heart Walk Flickr album.

-Fabrienne

Houston

Dallas didn't get to have all of the fun when it comes to the AHA Heart Walk, and I made sure to document the Houston goings-on to share with our avid SoftLayer Blog readers. From bake sales to ice cream socials, the Houston office was diligent about donating money and raising heart-health awareness for months prior to the 2012 walk, and those months were extremely eventful. Like Fabrienne, I jumped at the opportunity to be one of 18 team captains at SoftLayer, and considering the fact that cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of Americans, I was inspired to get everyone involved.

I'll be the first to admit that I am not in the best of shape, so a five-kilometer walk through a course at Reliant Stadium would be pretty challenging. My team had been tirelessly preparing for the 5k "mini-marathon" walk, and as November approached, you could sense the excitement and enthusiasm brewing. Walking only one mile can add up to two hours to your lifespan, so in the process of preparing for the walk, we added quite a few hours to our collective lives. When the big day finally arrived, we were ready:

SoftLayer Heart Walk
The Houston Heart Walk SLayers

Given that our day started at an unbelievable 7:00am on a Saturday, most of our participants were tired-eyed and ready to chow down on the free burritos and fruit provided by SoftLayer, and by the time we fired up the photo booth and broke out the goofy props, everyone was wide awake. It's like they say, "Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day ... Give a man fun props and a camera, and he'll have a blast (and pictures that can be used against him." Actually, I don't know if "they" say that, but it's true:

SoftLayer Heart Walk

Before we knew it, a gunshot of glitter and colorful confetti got the crowd of people moving down the 3.1-ish mile track, and we were hooting and cheering, pumped to represent our company! By mile two, my legs were a little wobbly and the sun was scorching, I could see that our dog, Rikku (whom had been carried the entire way) looked was confused about why I was putting her through the exhausting task of being comfortably in my arms as we herded through the people like cattle.

SoftLayer Heart Walk

AHA water stations and mile markers reminded us that we were doing it for the best cause ever: The people we love and the people of the past that have been lost due to heart disease. It's a safe bet that if you don't know someone directly affected by heart disease, you will eventually. The American Heart Association organizes these fundraisers and walks every year across the world to gather donations and raise awareness so that one day, we may be able to conquer this silent killer. With their donations, they're able to participate in research for preventative treatment, provide education to children to avoid obesity and fund medical research that could one day breakthrough and save lives.

All in all it was a wonderful experience, one that I'll definitely be sure to be a part of next year.

-Cassandra

SoftLayer Heart Walk

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December 22, 2011

Serving and Supporting - Outside the Data Center

On Tuesday, Summer posted "Giving: Better Than Receiving," a blog about all of the organizations SoftLayer has supported in 2011, and I'm one of the lucky SLayers on the new Charity Committee. We recently began this initiative to oversee charitable donations at SoftLayer and (more importantly) to encourage all employees to step-up and make a DIFFERENCE. Whether by volunteering or financially supporting a local charity, the idea is that we all participate in our community and try and help in some way.

One of the best examples of an organization that does amazing things for communities and people who deserve a little extra love is the TV show, "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." I've always loved the show, and I'm only quasi-embarrassed that I've shed a tear or two when the crowd shouts, "Move that bus!" and the homeowners see their brand new home. If you aren't familiar with the show, the EM:HE team finds deserving families who, for one reason or another, need a new home, and over the course of one week, the EM:HE crew and a slew of local volunteers set to work to rebuild or remodel the home.

You can imagine the amount of supplies, coordination and man-hours that go into building a new home or completely remodeling it in just one week. That's where the community and local businesses get involved: Supplies are donated by companies, and the work force is made up of show employees, people from the sponsoring companies, and an average of 2,500 volunteers every episode.

With that generous involvement, the challenge becomes coordinating the massive amount of work, people and projects to get everything done in a short period of time. That's where the Internet comes in. How can the show maintain an online presence for vendors, sponsors and fans of the show? Each of them plays an important part in the show's success, so they need to be kept "in the know" with the most up-to-date information. And that's where we come in.

This philanthropic show definitely meets the requirements of SoftLayer's Charity Committee, and when the show was nominated as a prospective organization to support, we immediately set plans in motion to figure out how we could help support the show and the deserving families getting new homes.

We've donated $25,000 in free hosting services this season to support the show's online presence. We'll be providing a place for vendors who donate to gain some visibility and a place for fans to watch videos and keep up with the show ... And that's no small task: The site receives about 6.8 million monthly impressions.

As Summer mentioned in her post, this is just one of the many ways we're reaching out to support organizations that are doing great work. Let us know what charities matter the most to you, and we'll get them on our radar. We're always looking for ways to get involved, and the first step is learning about who's doing this kind of amazing work for such a great cause.

-@skinman454

December 20, 2011

Giving: Better Than Receiving

The holiday season for many of us is a time for giving and reflecting back on what we are thankful for, and this year has been an awesome one for SoftLayer. As a result of that awesomeness, we've been able to help several organizations raise money and awareness ... So many that we recently created a Charity Committee to find groups and organizations we can support in the future. Why would we need a committee to do that? Here's a snapshot of a few of the organizations we've helped this year:

Carter BloodCare – Carter BloodCare is a blood center who delivers 330,000 units of lifesaving blood components each year. This year the organization setup a mobile blood drive outside of our headquarters so that any employee who wished to donate could. To learn more about Carter BloodCare, visit http://carterbloodcare.org/.

Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center - The SLayers in Dallas weren't the only ones with an opportunity to donate blood. In Houston, the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center set up shop in one of our conference rooms to accept donations. The Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center serves the largest medical campus in the world, so they're always grateful for people who "Commit For Life." To learn more about the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center, go to http://giveblood.org/.

American Heart Association – American Heart Association's mission is "To build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke." This year SoftLayer split up into teams to compete to see who could raise the most money. The Marketing team alone raised over $7,500! To learn more about the American Heart Association, make your way over to http://heart.org/.

North Texas Food Bank - The North Texas Food Bank is a nonprofit organization on a mission to create a hunger-free community. They currently operate 1,146 feeding programs around North Texas, and our Dallas office brought in nonperishable food items to donate. Check them out at http://ntfb.org/.

Houston Food Bank – Like the blood drives, our Houston crew wasn't going to be left behind when it came to supporting a local food bank. The Houston Food Bank is the largest Feeding America food bank in the nation. They currently feed around 865,000 people each year. Learn more at http://houstonfoodbank.org/.

Captain Hope's Kids – Captain Hope's Kids is an organization that helps homeless children to live as close to a normal life as possible. Aside from monetary donations they collect items like coats, toys, school supplies, and even baby formula. Visit their website at http://captainhope.org/.

Tour De Pink – Tour De Pink is an annual bike ride in Texas that raises money for breast cancer research, education and awareness campaigns. Head over to http://www.tourdepink.org/ to get the current fundraising total for 2011. Right now, they're just a hair under $350,000 raised. SoftLayer was honored to be the presenting sponsor of Tour De Pink, and we're looking forward to next year!

Toys for Tots – The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program collects new and unwrapped toys for children who are less fortunate. The program then delivers these toys as Christmas gifts to the needy children in the community. In SoftLayer's offices, SLayers were encouraged to bring in new, unwrapped toys and gifts to give through this program. http://toysfortots.org/ has all the information you need about that program.

Community in Schools – Community in Schools is an organization that connects kids in school with mentors who can help them with problems inside and outside of the classroom. Many SoftLayer employees volunteer their time each week to help tutor and mentor kids in the Dallas area. If it's something you might like to get involved with, the Community in Schools website for the Dallas region is http://www.cisdallas.org/.

The other day someone said to me "If you can help and you are able to, then you should," and I am so grateful to be a part of a company who can help and does.

Happy Holidays!

-Summer

Categories: 
December 19, 2011

SoftLayer Shopping List

With the holidays upon us, this can be a very hectic time of year. Whether you are the type to brave the shopping mall for your holiday purchases or you do all your shopping from your easy chair over the Internet, gift giving has become one of the more traditional activities during the Christmas season.

It seems that my shopping list gets bigger and bigger each year. At the beginning of every holiday season, I sit down and compose a list of people for whom I will be buying gifts. I then determine the best place to find each item. The next step is to determine whether I will be purchasing what that person needs or what that person wants. If I am shopping for my spouse, I usually get her something she needs. I hate to admit it, but if I am shopping for myself, I usually get something I want.

Another important aspect of holiday shopping is staying within my budget. When I am shopping for someone I hardly see, their gift will be purchased with a small amount of money. When I budget for a family member or someone very close to me, I spend a lot of money on them (and I try to not splurge too much).

Another fun part of shopping is getting it all done as early as possible so I can enjoy the rest of the holiday season. This relieves me from worrying about what I'm going to get "so-and-so" in time for the holiday? Once I've completed my shopping, then comes the hard part: Wrapping the gifts. My wrapping skills would probably put me in the "novice" category, so if I can get the gifts professionally wrapped at the department store, I'm happy to put down a few extra dollars to avoid the awkward, "Did you wrap this in the dark?" questions.

One of my favorite parts of the gift-giving tradition is watching the recipient open their gift. Even if I don't receive anything in return, it brings me joy to see that they enjoy it. It's pretty clear that I'm in the camp that believes it's more blessed to give than it is to receive ... That's probably why I tend to spend more money during the holiday season than I do throughout the entire year on weddings, birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions.

If you've listened to the radio at all in the past month or so, you've probably heard of the "The Twelve Days of Christmas" playing about a few dozen times per day. It lists twelve things your true love gives to you. Next Sunday, you're going to get a final holiday-related video with a few folks from the SoftLayer team singing our own little version of the song, but I thought I'd share twelve things you can add to your SoftLayer shopping cart for to make your server faster and your job a lot easier.

  1. QuanataStor Storage Server
  2. CloudLayer Storage
  3. CloudLayer Content Delivery Network
  4. Managed Hosting Services
  5. Hardware Upgrade
  6. Network Services Upgrade
  7. Evault Backup Services
  8. Virtual Racks
  9. Citrix Netscaler
  10. Advanced Monitoring Service
  11. Email Delivery Service
  12. Add Virtual Computing with CCIs

Here is to wishing you a very happy holiday season!

-Greg

December 23, 2010

The Art of Giving

The holiday season is around and we are all busy buying gifts at malls/online for our family members, friends, colleagues, bosses, teachers, business partners and to everyone that makes a difference in our life. This holiday season also try a little different way of gift giving that wouldn't cost you a penny. To give this gift you need not open your wallet or your purse, you just need to open your heart. You need not wait for a Mother's Day, Valentine's Day, Christmas or any other occasion to give this gift, it can be given anytime, anywhere and to anyone.

We take many things for granted in our life, but take a minute and think about the people that are around you that make your life better. Give the gift of appreciation. Appreciate your spouse for all that he/she does around the house or outside the house to make your living better. Appreciate your kids for helping you with the chores around the house or for doing their work on time and tell them how much you love them. Appreciate your friends for being there when you needed them. Appreciate your employees for their hard work and the efforts that they put into a project. Appreciate your boss for his/her support and encouragement. Appreciate your teacher/mentor for guiding your way.

A word of appreciation or a word of thanks would not cost you anything, but it can have a great impact on the people around you. It makes people happy, it encourages them to do more of the good things they are doing, it increases their productivity, it builds their confidence and it contributes to the overall positive energy. But let me warn you, once you start giving this gift whole heartedly you won't feel like stopping it - it can get very addictive.

-Padmaja

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