Business leaders are increasingly faced with the difficulty of providing employees with more meaning at work. Whether its Gen Y workers or Millennials driving change at your work place, nearly all of us desire more meaning in our daily tasks. For Don Fornes, CEO of Austin-based tech company, Software Advice, addressing this concern for his 100 employees came in the opportunity of saving a five-year-old’s life.
After reading a New York Times article about engaging employees via corporate giving and volunteerism, Fornes joined forces with HeartGift Austin, which brings children from developing countries who suffer from congenital heart defects to the United States so they can undergo life-saving surgeries that are unavailable in their homeland. The children are placed with a host family for the six-week duration of their stay, and are returned home when they have fully recovered. Dan and his employees found their purpose in the form of Confidence: a five-year-old girl from Benin City, Nigeria who needed life-saving heart surgery.
When she was just two months old, Confidence was diagnosed with Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD) and Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA)–essentially, two holes in her heart. In Nigeria, children with this condition typically die before age 10. Dan and his family coordinated logistics with HeartGift Austin to host Confidence and her mother Mary for their time in Austin. Dell Children’s Medical Center in partnership with HeartGift Austin would pay the vast majority of the $266,000 required to transport Confidence and her mother, Mary, to and from Austin and perform her surgery. This gave Dan Fornes and his employees the opportunity to raise the $25,000 difference. Beyond fundraising, Software Advice employees spent time visiting the young girl, Confidence, and her mother, Mary, at the hospital and at the Fornes’ home during their six weeks in Austin.
Confidence’s bypass surgery was a success and she made a full recovery in only six days, allowing her to spend the remainder of her trip sightseeing and going on playdates with the Fornes’ young daughter, Hudson. The two girls eventually referred to each other as “my sister.”
When it was time to say goodbye, the Fornes family and Software Advice employees felt a strong sense of loss, enhanced by the realization that Confidence and Mary were returning to a more difficult life than they had experienced in Austin. Yet, knowing they had been an essential part of Confidence’s new lease on life was encouraging.
Fornes and his team witnessed firsthand how their efforts at work could create meaningful change even if their daily tasks aren’t saving the world.
“We were able to provide staff with a strong sense of purpose through this opportunity,” Fornes said. “They saw the revenue their work generates funding something important”.
As we move into 2014, consider how you might be able to help someone in need, through volunteering or fundraising for a cause you are passionate about. Share your experiences with us as we love hearing stories like these! Together, we can amplify our social impact!
To see the full story on how Dan Fornes & his team at Software Advice saved the life of 5-year old Confidence, click here.