It has long been a tradition for the Paubox team to perform community service throughout the year. Before the pandemic hit, we were well on our way to hitting our goal of 50 community service hours in 2020 after serving meals at Glide Church in January and picking up trash at Crissy Field in February.
We thought our efforts had been derailed until we realized that a number of Paubox employees had taken it upon themselves to perform virtual community service on their own. Turns out the team has performed over 200 hours of community service this year. Below we’ll share some of the highlights.
Eddie Prislac: Vets Who Code
Eddie is a senior software engineer here at Paubox. He is also a veteran, having spent 4 years on active duty in the United States Marine Core and six years in the Texas Army National Guard. He heard about Vets Who Code about three years ago and decided to become a mentor.
Vets Who Code is a nonprofit dedicated to training veterans who are returning to the workforce in web development. Eddie spent his first year in the program as a mentor before asking for more responsibility. He is now an “applicant wrangler,” personally reviewing every application and prework submission. He interviews each applicant to determine if he or she will be a good fit for the program.
Eddie’s works with VWC is to improve the future of the coding industry by increasing the number of military veterans in engineering positions. Most vets are already well-skilled in working in teams, following instructions, adapting to constantly changing requirements, and performing well under pressure. They also possess an unparalleled work ethic.
“These are all qualities I’d want in potential team members,” Eddie explained. “Coding skills are usually the only thing lacking to turn them into stellar devs.”
On average Eddie puts in about an hour of work a day with VWC, and sometimes more. He plans to continue volunteering as long as he can.
Nick Wong: Blueprint
Nick Wong is a front end software engineer at Paubox. During his sophomore year at UC Berkeley, joined Blueprint, a student organization that develops software pro bono for nonprofits around the world.
Blueprint’s mission is to make technology for communities that promote public welfare by partnering with five nonprofit organizations every academic year to develop the platforms they need.
Nick joined Blueprint because he is passionate about using his skills to provide value to vulnerable communities. Growing up in Hawaii, he was fortunate to learn web development in high school in a place where these skills are still quite rare.
“I feel a sense of responsibility to those that invested in me,” Nick said. “I’d love to leverage my skills and my craft to help support them and their communities.”
Since joining in the fall of 2019, Nick has met with his Blueprint team virtually a few times a week. On average, he spends anywhere from 7-15 hours a week doing something related to Blueprint.
Nick plans to continue volunteering as long as he’s still affiliated with Berkeley, which will be at least a few more years.
Last year, Nick’s Blueprint team partnered with People Power Solar Cooperative (PPSC) which enables Californian communities to crowdsource money to create mini-solar projects. The electricity generated powers local community buildings, and any profits from selling excess electricity are returned to the community.
This year, Nick is leading a team supporting an agricultural nonprofit on the North Shore of O’ahu. His group is creating a platform that helps local farmers gain USDA accreditation and supports the organization’s Food Hub program which gives small farms the ability to sell to larger customers.
Kim Donald: Adopt a Nursing Home
Kim Donald is Paubox’s billing specialist. She started volunteering with Adopt a Nursing Home in November while searching for a community service project to help Paubox reach its 2020 community service goals.
Due to the unprecedented spread of COVID-19, nursing homes are protecting residents and nursing home staff by restricting all nonessential visits. However, this means that many residents are no longer able to enjoy their much-anticipated visits with friends and family, which is crucial for their emotional and mental health.
Kim writes letters on pretty stationery and inserts them into cheery cards. The cards and letters are addressed to “A Special Staff Member” or “A Special Resident.” Kim sends a package of cards at least twice a month.
“It was difficult at first writing to strangers and not knowing who would receive the card,” Kim admitted. “But, it’s all about talking about yourself and being upbeat.”
“If I can brighten the day of the staff and one or more residents, I know that I am making a difference,” Kim said. “Perhaps, a small difference, but a difference nonetheless.”