Kasia Padding-Slodziak's first volunteering experience was one to remember. 

Padding-Slodziak, a material planner for World Wide Technology (WWT) in its European Integration Center (EIC) in Amsterdam, was one of more than 100 employees to volunteer their time as part of WWT's Day of Caring program. 

Kasia Padding-Slodziak (right) during her Day of Caring
Kasia Padding-Slodziak (right) during her Day of Caring in November 2019.

In fact, every single employee from the EIC participated in the event, collectively logging more than 800 volunteer hours spread across eight different projects aimed at supporting a broad range of community organizations that serve vulnerable groups. 

"For me, it was a great experience -- we worked hard, but also had lots of fun," Padding-Slodziak said. "I enjoyed spending the day with colleagues in a slightly different environment, but what's most important was we put a smile on a lot of faces. That felt amazing."

Projects included: 

  • Painting and decorating three homes in the local community for people in need. Charity: Aemosa
  • Working on a local farm alongside those with mental disabilities to prepare the outside garden for winter. Charity: Gemiva-SVG Groep
  • Building fences and doing outside maintenance for a mini campsite alongside mentally vulnerable youth. Charity: Ipse de Bruggen
  • Painting, decorating and renovating the Vijfhoven for the HuiswerkKamer (homework room) for children between 10 and 15 years old. Charity: JES Rijnland
  • Painting an elderly care home that takes care of elders with a physical or mental disabilities. Charity: Marente
  • Volunteering during the "Sinterklaas" period at a local center by helping young people aged 16 to 27 with disabilities. Charity: Gemiva-SVG Groep

The day was not without its challenges, including the logistics of allowing every employee to participate in the one-day event, thus requiring a shutdown of the 65,000-square-foot integration and supply chain facility.

"The EIC is such a production facility from a rack and stack and logistics perspective that it was challenging to plan and coordinate in terms of how we could get every team out of the office and volunteering for the day," said Nikki Douglas, a human resources manager who helped spearhead the effort. "When we have a national holiday and need to shut down, we work in advance. So we kind of had this sneaky idea to schedule this Day of Caring on the day after Thanksgiving, which in the U.S. is a holiday. And we got buy-in from WWT leadership in June to do that, which of course, led to the next issue of how we were going to organize this big effort."

Douglas said the EIC team began scouting organizations over the summer and, by September, had a list of organizations and projects WWT would help support and an idea of how many volunteers would be needed for each effort.

Ben Blanton paints a wall during his Day of Caring
Ben Blanton paints a wall during his Day of Caring in November 2019.

"It was also important that we made sure we had a variety of projects that could speak to every single person," she said. "Some people would much rather be outside doing something but not interacting with the charity's clients. Others enjoy that interaction. Every role, though, is equally important."

Ben Blanton, a project manager for WWT in Amsterdam, said he and three others chose a project that entailed painting a dingy, smoke-stained recreational room within the dementia ward of an assisted living facility. 

"We played music throughout the day and one of the residents kept coming by in her wheelchair to say she liked the music and was just happy we were there," Blanton said. "I hope the break in monotony and new faces around the facility provided some extra cheer with Sinterklaas just around the corner."

For some, the event -- aptly dubbed by the EIC Amsterdam team as the Big Day of Caring -- inspired aspirations to give back even more heading into the new year. 

Ryan Miller volunteering during a "Sinterclaas" period at a local center helping young people
Ryan Miller (left) volunteering during a "Sinterclaas" period at a local center helping young people.

"I honestly had an amazing experience on this Big Day of Caring and I would definitely recommend repeating this in the future," said Ryan Miller, a supervisor and project engineer in Amsterdam. "I spent my day doing activities with children whom suffer from physical disabilities and Autism, and it was really difficult -- emotionally and physically. I have newfound respect for the loving care that workers provide these kids on a daily basis."

Each of WWT's 6,000-plus global workforce receives one day a year to volunteer and give back to the community at a non-profit organization of their choosing -- that's roughly 2,000 days' worth of volunteer time. It's an opportunity to get involved and support organizations that impact the lives of the communities in which we live and work.

"The organization behind [the Big Day of Caring] was amazing and, thanks to WWT, we changed a lot of peoples' lives without much effort," said Joana Vilela Pinto da Silva, a material coordinator for global order operations. "Volunteering is something I've always valued, and I even found an opportunity to continue volunteering with these organizations on a monthly basis."

WWT opened its European Integration Center in Amsterdam in 2014. The 65,000-square-foot facility includes 5,000 square feet of lab space that provides remote access for customers and features a flexible design to accommodate any mix of product or services. The EIC-Amsterdam has the ability to scale and configure space to increase agility in meeting changing demand.