Not every company puts an emphasis on CSR, or Corporate Social Responsibility, but finding one who prioritizes it helps to remind us about all the good that business can do.
During the first 2 weeks of May 2018, I traveled with a group of 10 other students to London as part of the Fisher Global Projects Program Non-Profit. Our team worked with Soles4Souls, a non-profit who aims to disrupt the cycle of poverty by providing shoes to local entrepreneurs who can then sell them to provide for their families, as well as distribute shoes for free in disaster relief. We were split into two groups, one who was tasked with finding a warehouse space for Soles4Souls to collect shoes in, and one who was tasked with finding interested organizations to set up collection campaigns with in the UK. I was a part of the collection campaign team, and was personally in charge of finding companies who might be interested in holding a Soles4Souls drive.
After months of build up, we had emailed hundreds of organizations, but were finding it tough to get people to respond to us. I had spoken to a family member who had known of thebigword, one of the largest translation companies in the world, and offered to put me in touch with them. After hearing about what Soles4Souls was all about, they were immediately interested in helping the cause, and wanted to learn more about how they could set up a shoe drive. They invited us to their office in Leeds, so that we could discuss the collaboration further.
The collection team set out for Leeds with only a few days remaining on the trip, and without any expectation of how this meeting would go. After a little more than two hours on the train, we arrived in the city of Leeds, England’s 8th largest city with a metro population slightly larger than that of Seattle. Upon arriving at their office, we were greeted with big smiles and a welcome sign on the tv behind the reception desk! It was great to see their excitement to meet with us, and the energy was reciprocated by everyone on our team.
We sat down and discussed a number of items, talking about all of our backgrounds, learning more about the people we were meeting with, and discussing more about their intentions to work with Soles4Souls and what they needed from us. After getting on the same page, we were shown a tour of their office, where we learned more about the company and the services that they offer. We all had an amazing experience, and by the end of our two hour meeting we were all thrilled with how it had went. They were looking to hold their drive in the beginning of June, with the potential to hold recurring drives in coming years and had even offered use of their translation software to Soles4Souls.
It was an amazing experience getting to meet with thebigword, and an even better experience to have helped to set up such a large shoe drive for Soles4Souls. With over 400 employees at their Leeds HQ alone, they should be able to donate hundreds of pairs of shoes! This experience was everything I could have asked for from the Global Projects Program Non-Profit, as I not only had an amazing experience learning about the company, but was also able to foster a meaningful connection. Everyone from thebigword was very friendly and excited to be able to support such a great cause. While even without this experience I would have been happy with my project, our trip to Leeds helped cement this meaningful experience and should help me in my future endeavors, both professional and philanthropic!