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A Year in the Life of a VMware Citizen Philanthropist

As we approach our annual Pi Day Celebration, a day on which we get geeky about giving by celebrating all things community-related, the VMware Foundation is connecting with some of our most active Citizen Philanthropists, who inspire others to take action in their communities. This month we met with Michelle Lee, IT Product Marketing/Management Leader, who has been at VMware for four years this month.

VMware Foundation: Which VMware Foundation programs are you involved in throughout the year?

Michelle Lee: I am active in all VMware Foundation programs throughout the year, but this past year I have participated in:

  • Service Learning
  • Good Gigs Projects (To Your Rescue – Discover/Design/Implement, Child Advocates – Implement)
  • Giving Network – IT for Good, founder
  • Gift of Gratitude

VMware Foundation: Can you tell us about the Service Learning you were recently involved in?

Michelle Lee: Over the past four years, I’ve been fortunate to have full management support to participate quite actively in Service Learning activities. Given that, I feel as though I have mastered the art of (or have a knack for) identifying nonprofits that can benefit/build the most capacity leveraging my professional skills.

Recently I teamed up with a great group of seven VMware engineers on a Good Gigs Project with an organization called To Your Rescue (TYR) that provides animal intake software for animal shelters and rescues. Today the software runs on Windows desktops, and the team is building a web-based instance, as this is their number one customer request. The impact the team is making is profound and will allow TYR to onboard more rescue organizations who in turn will be able to save more animals.

TYR is incredibly dedicated to its mission. They are an all-volunteer-run organization, their software is offered at a flat lifetime fee, and their founder is the heartbeat and financier of the organization. We found each other through VolunteerMatch and bonded over a mutual love for animals.

VMware Foundation: How does VMware’s culture of service impact you?

Michelle Lee: Working at other companies, service learning was an activity that wasn’t “optional.” Translation being, you and your team will paint that house on this day, in this quarter, to meet volunteer quota objective X. Although there were clear benefits and resulting good feelings, activities felt forced and not from the heart. At VMware we are Citizen Philanthropists who decide how and where to contribute our time, talents, and resources. We also have multiple ways of giving back, whether it be through physical or cerebral service, financial contributions, and the like. This spirit of giving carries through to my personal life, as I find myself often pausing to see if I’m truly doing my best to be the best human I can be.

VMware Foundation: What are your upcoming plans for community support through Foundation programs?

Michelle Lee: This year I’m focused on uncovering remote opportunities for the IT for Good Giving Network, so colleagues have more choices available to serve their communities. It’s all about finding quality opportunities that appeal to many. During these times, a lot of folks have reached out wanting to contribute so educating and connecting mutually beneficial matches is an area where I can add value.

Read more stories about VMware’s Citizen Philanthropists here.


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