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This Pro Bono Week, Salesforce Celebrates Everyday Heroes

By October 28, 2022

As we wind down on another Pro Bono Week, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the incredible work of our volunteers. This is a time to celebrate everyday heroes — the individuals and organizations that combine time, talent, and passion to lift up the community around them. 

We all know how challenging the last few years have been. We’ve seen pressure mounting in the form of hunger, conflict, and climate change, to name a few. On the front lines of these challenges are nonprofits and alongside them are our pro bono volunteers. They make a personal investment to empower those organizations to work more efficiently, respond more quickly, and accelerate their impact. 

Here are just a few of my favorite stories from the year:

Doing More for Ukraine

Sergey Erlikh’s family lives in central Ukraine, just south of Kiev. As the world watched the invasion of his family’s country in horror, Sergey asked himself what he could do to help. He began by asking friends to donate clothes and shoes for refugees, but eventually felt he could do more. As a Solution Architect for Salesforce, Sergey used our Pro Bono Program to look for ways to apply his technical skills. Since then, he has participated in multiple pro bono projects to help a variety of Ukrainian NGOs. 

One such project leveraged a superstar pro bono team of both Salesforce and Tableau employees — a Ukraine-based SI partner and an ISV partner with Ukrainian employees, to create a platform to help families find some sense of normalcy in a warzone. The Professional Development Foundation of Kharkiv provides support for children and families, including coordinating weekly activities for children and families in more than 30 shelters in 10 different cities. At times, the platform manages 200 different events every week. Right now, volunteers are working on extending its reach into recently recaptured territories where people — and especially children — are incredibly traumatized.

“This work is tough, it’s difficult,” says Sergey, “But everyday I say to myself; I need to do something. I need to do something valuable, and to use my knowledge to maximize what I can do. This really gives me energy and hope.”

Feeding People at a Crossroads

Hunger is undeniably one of the most pressing issues of our time, with one of every 10 people in the United States dealing with food insecurity. Crossroads Community Services is a local food pantry and distribution center based in Dallas. They deliver on their mission to strengthen families by building nutrition-stable communities by offering a unique shopping experience that allows families to select dry goods, frozen produce, and proteins specific to their health, religious, and cultural needs. When the pandemic forced them to change their operations, rather than fall back on traditional pre-packaged boxes, they used it as an opportunity to reimagine how they could offer a dignified experience to those they serve. pro bono volunteers, led by Paul Eaklor, partnered with Crossroads and Arganokeste. The resulting solution enables families to choose the foods they want based on their family size and health needs. Like so many others learned to do in the wake of the pandemic, now these thousands of families can shop safely online and schedule a grocery pickup for a touch-free and personalized experience.

Screenshot of the Crossroads app with produce options

This app and the continuation of our partnership is really singling out those areas that meet our client’s needs, allowing them to order food that doesn’t just help them, but also heals them in the process,” says Benaye Wadkins Chambers, President, and CEO of Crossroads Community Services.

Highlighting Plastic Footprint To Save the Ocean

The ocean has long taken the brunt of the effects of climate change. If we don’t change our habits quickly, billions of lives and livelihoods will be at stake. One of our pro bono volunteers, Paige Van Riper, found a way to act by helping The Ocean Recovery Alliance. The organization strives to improve the ocean environment with the help of technology, creativity, and collaborative partnerships. They think outside the box to develop innovative solutions and initiatives to improve and protect the state of our oceans. 

One such project is the Plastic Disclosure Project (PDP), which is designed to help manufacturers, services, and municipalities understand their plastic footprint so they can ultimately reduce it. The project is reliant on survey data, and the organization needed help organizing and displaying the results visually. 

Pro bono volunteers created a workflow that brought their survey data into Salesforce, pulling it into dashboards that could be shared with PDP participants. Now, it’s much easier to quickly understand plastic consumption, and identify opportunities to minimize their waste and carbon footprint!

“I am passionate about sustainability and ocean health,” says Paige Van Riper, Partner Success Director at Salesforce, “It was very fulfilling to help the Ocean Recovery Alliance with this innovative project. It is pioneering a system for entities to establish what their plastic baseline is and work to reduce it.

We All Play a Role in Building a Better Future

These are just a few examples of stories I hear every day. I am so inspired to work with such a purpose-driven, talented community. The best part is that we know pro bono volunteering benefits everyone involved; from the nonprofits, to the employees, the companies, and the community. But, more importantly, it helps us come together across backgrounds, diversify our perspectives and empower one another to do more. It creates the space for us to take on the individual and collective responsibility we have to make the world a better place.