Our Force for Good series meets you with the people at VMware passionate about volunteering. They share the lessons learned in the process and the special moments from their volunteering journey that they cherish. This week – meet Ivo Rahov, Sr. Software Engineer.
Tell us about the Service Learning you were recently involved in?
For the past 7 years, I have worked closely with the For Change Association. We have been organizing summer camps and Christmas gifts giving for children and teenagers as well as preparing food boxes for elderly people and spending time with them.
Our last activity was preparing food boxes for elderly people. Our goal was 20 and we hardly stopped at 50, not counting a car trunk full of long-lasting food. Then, together with a few colleagues from VMware, we went to the rural areas of Sandanski to meet with the people the food was intended for. It was an unforgettable experience.
How did you start and why?
I started by being around people who were already engaged in volunteering. In 2016 my wife and three daughters went to a children’s summer camp with these people to see in person the stories that they were telling us all about. There was also a shared belief in my family that there are people in need and we should not just think about ourselves. And the popular saying goes – the longest journey begins with just one little step and that’s how it all started.
What is volunteering for you? What motivates you to do this?
The Bulgarian word for ‘volunteering’ is literally translated as ‘good willingness’. And that’s what it really means to me – to do good willingly.
The major driving force behind my motivations steps on my Christian faith that has changed me and fuels my desire to do good for others. Once stepping on that path it is quite easy to see the world from a different perspective. Seeing children and their changed lives or elderly people with tears in their eyes makes me tell myself ‘I shouldn’t stop, I cannot stop, I will continue to do good willingly!’
How do you find time for volunteering?
In the same way, I find time to do the other important things in my life. We all have 24hours a day. We spend time doing certain things and for the rest of them, we say “I don’t have time”. It reminds me about the story of the jar and how you can fill it with stones, chuckles, and sand that signifies the important priorities and the small stuff that can fill up all your time if you don’t pay any attention.
I don’t feel like I spend enough time doing things for others and often I find myself putting small, unimportant stuff first and running out of time for the stuff that really matters.
My wife and I are trying to constantly remind ourselves of the things in life that truly matter and what’s best for our daughters to. Serving others is a virtue in our house. That’s why we try to do volunteering together, as a family. If the circumstances do not allow it we make sure to share our experience at the dinner table.
What did you learn about yourself while helping the causes?
I often think of myself that I’m not good enough – as a father, as a husband, as a person, as a professional, and that I have not achieved enough in order to help others. But when I see all these people in so much of a need I realize I should stop underestimating the little that I have and see that this “little” can be in fact much for someone in need. This makes me more grateful for all that I have and really see it as an abundance and blessing, what it really is.
As a VMware employee, how does our culture of service impact you?
One of the many ways VMware puts into practice the value of service to the community is by offering its employees 40 paid hours of volunteering work for any cause we choose. Another initiative that channels the company’s direct involvement in the causes of its employees is the double matching program and the additional amount of money at the end of the year which everyone can donate with just a few clicks. Last but not least are my colleagues who are enthusiastic and active in volunteering. I find myself empowered and supported by the entire VMware ecosystem to do good.
Tell us about the people you met on this journey.
I met great colleagues in the company who did much more than was expected from them to support a cause. I met supportive management staff, I met people outside of the company whose hearts are burning to help others. I met children and teenagers in difficult family situations who later on say ‘When I grow up I want to do what you are doing – helping others.’ I met elderly people that were greeting and kissing me as their own child. And I met more of myself.
What would you say to someone who has never been a volunteer, would like to become one, but doesn’t know where to start from?
Give it a try! Do not have high expectations and requirements from yourself. Simply, open-heartedly just step into some activity with somebody that has already done it. Encourage yourself to make that first one little step in doing good willingly!