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Active Participant

Wednesday was a great day. Not because I rocked comfy jeans, a tee, and sneakers to the office, but because I volunteered and gave back to my community. 

Watch this vine that sums it up in 6 seconds.

October marks SAP Month of Service, and as such, the entire global company is encouraged to volunteer. Whether you’re an animal lover, environmentalist, avid reader, or artist, there is an event for you.  Test your muscle strength at KaBoom! Sort and organize donated clothing at Cradles to Crayons.  Package food for Meals on Wheels.  Cheer up children through Ronald McDonald House. I wasn’t kidding; there is literally an event for everyone.   

Below is a group of SAP Newtown Square colleagues beautifying Ridley Creek State Park, a local treasure down the road from corporate headquarters.

My volunteer event this month was hosted by The Foundation for Hospital Art.  The organization strives to provide each hospital patient with comfort and hope through the use of visuals.  Studies show that different colors influence different moods.  And a colorful and cheerful mural hanging in a hospital can help change a gloomy attitude to a more positive one. 

The Foundation hopes to someday donate one painted mural to each and every hospital on Earth.  So far, they've hit 195 countries, donated over 40K paintings to more than 4K healthcare facilities, and involved over 1 million people. To me, that’s pretty awesome. 

This week, my colleagues and I gathered in the SAP cafeteria and painted a beautiful mural consisting of greens and yellows and oranges.  When dried and assembled, the final product showcased a calming garden scene. 

Earlier in the morning, another group of colleagues painted this oceanic mural pictured below.

My participation in PaintFest was especially unique because some of the SAP Autism at Work colleagues were among the painters.  I had the pleasure of meeting new faces and learned a lot about this awesome program.

Patrick Viesti, one of the colleagues I had the pleasure of meeting, works as an IT Project Associate under the Cloud & Infrastructure Delivery Foundations Services Project Management Office, hired through the Autism at Work program. I found it especially interesting that as part of the hiring evaluation process, Patrick and his group were tasked to work together to pitch an idea purposed to improve the lives of the elderly through the power of a Lego Mindstorm Robot.

The project resulted in two fully workable robots, one that dispensed medication and reminded patients when to take it and one that cleaned for and danced with the elderly.

At the Month of Service event, Patrick told me that he “loves working with such a great and dedicated team of people, specifically Brian Jones and Will Lin. They are very supportive of me and have helped me to learn about the ins and outs of working in project management.”

Here’s a picture of all the volunteers after we finished painting our mural.

In addition to organized volunteer outings, the Newtown Square office is partnering with the Chester County Food Bank to pack 2000 snacks for the After the Bell program, and across the globe, SAP employees are collecting gently worn shoes for S.T.E.P’s Leave a GOOD Footprint campaign.

S.T.E.P. stands for Save the Earth Projects, an organization dedicated to organizing social change through youth social entrepreneurship. S.T.E.P was founded by 13 year old, Olivia Russo-Hood.

After losing her home and community to epic floods in 2009, Olivia was determined to make a difference.  At the age of 11, Olivia set out to collect 100 pairs of shoes and raise money for children that could not afford to play soccer at her local YMCA.  After about a month, Olivia had collected 1500 pairs of shoes, and her “Leave a Good Footprint” campaign was launched across the USA.

Here’s a picture of Olivia (daughter to proud mom and SAP employee, Denise Russo) with some of the collected shoes.

Today, 300 million pairs of shoes wind up in landfills annually, yet 300 million people around the world lack adequate footwear.  This year, through the Leave a GOOD Footprint project, Olivia hopes to collect 10,000 shoes by December 31st. So far, she’s collected 7,000 pairs, and that doesn’t include the collection from the SAP drive.  I’ll share those numbers once the drive ends on October 31st.

For each pound of shoes collected at SAP offices, $.50 is being donated to the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship.

Here’s a picture of the bin in Newtown Square last week.  Shout out to my family for overflowing it.

How can you get involved?

Like the S.T.E.P. Facebook page and learn more about other Save the Earth Projects.

Find your local food bank at and donate food.

Go to the Foundation for Hospital Art’s website and volunteer to paint.

Check out to see how you can start a social corporate responsibility program at your company.  Or check out to find volunteer opportunities near you.

Get active with me on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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