CSR Snapshot features some of the most recent corporate social responsibility activities that Syniverse has participated in to help make a positive impact on the communities where we live and work.
What was the activity?
On Oct. 12, a team of 13 employees from Syniverse’s office in Tampa, Florida, spent most of a day helping with a luncheon and a community-awareness walk for an organization called Lighthouse for the Blind & Low Vision. Our effort was one of many organized for the United Way’s Day of Caring, an annual effort by the United Way Suncoast chapter that recruits volunteer teams from companies and organizations across four counties to help local charities for a half or full day. This year, approximately 2,300 volunteers from over 35 businesses were mobilized to tackle some 96 projects for local social service agencies, schools and community organizations. This year marked the 11th year that Syniverse has participated in Day of Caring.
What organization did the activity support?
We supported Lighthouse for the Blind & Low Vision, a nonprofit whose mission is “to maximize independence and provide employment opportunities for persons who are blind or visually impaired.” Lighthouse for the Blind & Low Vision provides a range of training programs designed to help people who have recently lost part or all of their vision in order to help them gain the skills needed to perform daily living tasks independently and maintain their employment through the use of assistive technology and devices. The organization currently serves over 1,000 “clients” of all ages, and relies on funding from foundations, grants, annual fundraisers, and donors.
How many Syniverse employees participated?
Thirteen team members participated this year.
What kind of activities did the employees participate in?
We supported the organization’s annual cookout and community activities for what’s called White Cane Awareness Day. This support included a luncheon that we helped set up and cook food for, and one where we spent time talking with the clients during the meal. After the luncheon, we helped raise awareness for the needs of the blind and visually impaired by walking one mile with the clients as part of White Cane Awareness Day. The day is designed to bring attention to what are called white cane laws, laws created to protect the well-being and promote the safety of blind and visually impaired people. For the walk, clients accompanied a guide and displayed their canes to raise awareness of white cane laws in the neighborhood. As part of this, members of our team served as guides and held signs about white cane laws. In addition to the luncheon and walk, at the start of our day, we were taken on a tour of the Lighthouse for the Blind & Low Vision and were educated about how to guide a blind person. This included exploring what types of tools are available to assist clients, including an on-site shop that sells tools like phones and computers that use braille. This tour also examined how people with a visual disease encounter the world with limited sight, and how they successfully navigate their environment to work and do other activities. For this part, we put on glasses with spots that either impaired vision or caused blurriness, and then we tried basic tasks like pouring a liquid in a cup to experience them as someone with impaired vision would.
What was the single most rewarding part of this activity?
Personally, this event was extremely humbling. I know I take my sight for granted, and I couldn’t imagine living without seeing. It was inspiring to learn that, because of this organization, blind people can be empowered to do a lot of things that people with normal eyesight can. Lighthouse is there to offer several programs to help them adjust to society, find jobs, cook for themselves, and do many other basic life activities. One of many highlights of the day was finding out that they played air hockey, through the use of balls that have sound, and then blindfolding myself to play a game with another blindfolded person so we could experience this ourselves. After I listened for a bit, I realized how big the court was and even made some goals! It was an amazingly rewarding experience. Our United Way Day of Caring projects always leave us feeling incredibly gratified to be able to contribute service to worthy community organizations, and we look forward to continuing this in many more Days of Caring to come.
Ellen King is Senior Planning Financial Analyst and works at Syniverse’s headquarters in Tampa, Florida.