Every waterfall begins with a single drop of water. That’s the idea behind VMware’s Citizen Philanthropy approach to giving—VMware’s impact in the community is the result of the collective actions of VMware people. At the core of this approach is our Service Learning program, which provides forty paid hours annually to employees around the world to contribute their time and talents to the community. We intentionally call this program “Service Learning” because we believe that when you serve with a mindset to learn, there is a powerful, two-way exchange of value between us and the nonprofits with which we serve.
This month we checked in with VMware’s Rafael Brito, Cloud Architecture Staff Engineer, who has been dedicating his Service Learning to two local nonprofits in Austin, Texas.
Rafael Brito: I joined VMware in May 2019, and as soon as I learned about our EPIC2 values and our culture of service, I started to look for Service Learning opportunities in my community. I am so grateful that a large company such as VMware has communities firmly rooted as part of its core values. With the Foundation’s Citizen Philanthropy approach, I am able to choose what cause areas matter to me and contribute my 40 hours of Service Learning when it works best for my schedule. Science tells us that serving our communities produces greater satisfaction, life purpose, and, consequently, mental health. I know from my Service Learning experience that this is, in fact, true.
I have been involved in multiple community activities since I joined VMware. I’ve supported The Trail Foundation and worked with Austin Parks to help clean up Lady Bird Lake and Trail in downtown Austin and plant trees around it. I go for a run around the trail almost every day, and when I see newly planted trees and well-maintained areas, I feel I have contributed to something bigger because everyone in my community has access to this beautiful park.
Another Service Learning activity from this year, which I am particularly excited about, has been acting as a sight runner to visually impaired individuals to help them run safely and confidently. One of my favorite pastimes is running outdoors, and I owe a great deal of my mental health and wellbeing to the sport. I met an inspirational person called Qusay Hussein, who lost his sight during a tragic event when he was a teenager in Iraq. Through a foundation he is affiliated with, I run with him every chance I get.
Every year, The Trail Foundation promotes a 5k run to raise funds for the trail that I help to maintain. This year, they did a virtual run because of COVID. I decided to combine both of my Service Learning activities – sight running and supporting trail maintenance – and invited Qusay Hussein to join the 5k run. He had never competed in a running race or covered such a distance, but he promptly accepted. We started to train in February, increasing our mileage week after week. Despite many difficulties during those months, Qusay ran his first 5k race in June 2021. We plan to run the next 5k race this Fall, and we have a long-term goal for Mr. Hussein to run a half-marathon with me.
Before working for VMware, I have loved other moments in my career, but I did not have opportunities to make a broad impact in my community. Since working here, I have genuinely dedicated at least 40 working hours each year to my community, and I feel that I am finally filling the missing piece in my career.
Inspired by what you’ve read? You can learn more about the VMware Foundation and see Citizen Philanthropy in Action here.