A LeanTaaS employee shares the value of volunteering as a group, in an installment of this series spotlighting the members of our team, what makes them special, and the experiences that transform their work into more than just a job.
In late summer of 2022, the Santa Clara-based members of the LeanTaaS Operations (Ops) team decided to make a change from their usual team building activities and focus on giving back with a volunteer day. Rachel Bautista tells the story below.
Q1: Can you tell us about yourself, your team, and what you do at LeanTaaS?
I contracted with LeanTaaS as a Recruiting Coordinator in February 2021, and a few months later joined the company full time in the same role. As part of the Ops team now, I help onboard the best talent from across the US with the LeanTaaS organization, and also engage with our current employees to connect and grow with one another. One important way I do this is by organizing offsite activities for my own team.
We have 20 members on the LeanTaaS Ops team, which covers Facilities, Finance, Legal, People, Commercial Operations, and internal IT functions. 13 of us are based onsite in Santa Clara. Others work remotely or in the Charlotte office. Using the team building budget designated to all LeanTaaS teams, our team holds regular offsite activities to promote camaraderie, collaboration, and decompression.
Q2: How did your team decide to have a volunteer day?
Our Head of People, Kris Franco, came up with the idea. Since I’m the one who organizes our offsites, she mentioned to me it would be good for us as a team to give back to the community and have a volunteer offsite in August. I executed the coordinating and planning.
Kris had a positive experience volunteering at the Second Harvest of Silicon Valley food bank at her previous company, and I had volunteered there myself in other jobs and in high school. A group from LeanTaaS had volunteered there as well in 2019. So that had already been established as a good place for us to make an impact.
Q3: Can you tell us more about Second Harvest as an organization, and how they help the communities they’re in?
Second Harvest of Silicon Valley was founded in 1974 and is one of the largest food banks in the nation. They distribute nutritious groceries through a network of almost 400 partners at drive-thru and walk-up sites across Santa Clara and San Mateo counties.
Because of food insecurity driven by the high cost of living in Silicon Valley, the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the rise in inflation, Second Harvest currently serves an average of 450,000 people every month. They also connect people to federal nutrition programs and other food resources, and advocate for anti-hunger policies on the local, state, and national levels.
Second Harvest relies on support from volunteers for its day-to-day operations, and is set up to accommodate teams like ours who come in for an afternoon. We knew taking a few hours to work together at Second Harvest would have a direct impact on our neighbors and community members. Everyone on our team was excited about volunteering and giving back, on top of our usual bonding with each other at outings.
Q3: What was the day itself like? What work did you do?
When we’d arrived and gotten our nametags, Second Harvest tasked us with sorting through fresh stone fruits. There were huge bins of fruits like plums and apples, and our group split up three people for each. We put any fruit that was bruised or moldy, that shouldn’t go out to pantries or shelters, in a separate bin, and lay the good ones out in smaller cardboard boxes, which the Second Harvest workers would seal and stack for delivery.
We kept going until each small group finished a whole bin, which took up about the entire three-hour session. Music was playing the whole time to keep us in the rhythm, and we interacted with both regular volunteers at Second Harvest and those in for the day with other companies.
Afterward, we went for dinner at a restaurant right down the street, which is usually how we wrap up our offsites as a team. The whole event took about five hours, so it didn’t interfere with what we needed to get done at work, but it was enough time to let us accomplish a lot together and continue bonding afterward.
Q4: What did you and your team take away from your volunteer day that’s special to you?
Second Harvest calculates the numbers each group achieves at the end of their work sessions. We learned that we sorted and packed about 7,500 pounds of fruit that day.
The LeanTaaS Ops team and our food total
Everyone who participated that day came up to me later to thank me for organizing it, and I think they all felt good about the work they did and the impact we made toward something bigger than ourselves. It was a good time to spend not only deepening our relationships with each other, but connecting with the other volunteers there, and seeing other groups excited about giving back to our community.
Our positive experience makes me hope other people know that volunteering can be fun, good for team bonding, and a social event that makes us feel good while giving back.
Are you a LeanTaaS employee who’d like to organize a volunteer event for your team? Connect with your leadership.
Interested in joining the LeanTaaS team? See openings on our Careers page.