Michael McCloud and Alex Espinal; Photo courtesy of Caleb Perry, http://calebperry.com.

Five laptops line the table in an Appriss conference room. They’re only a few years old but, for a tech company, the life cycle of even top-of-the-line equipment isn’t very long. At other companies, those laptops would be headed for a tech recycling center. At Appriss, they’re going to five deserving young men through a local non-profit founded by Michael McCloud, A Future in H.O.P.E.: Youth Services Inc.

McCloud’s organization is dedicated to housing and mentoring youth who were in foster care but will soon “age out” of the system. Although they’re no longer eligible for foster care, many of these kids aren’t ready to navigate the complexities of finding a job or a place to live.

The goal of A Future in H.O.P.E. is to help young people successfully bridge the gap between leaving foster care and assuming adult responsibilities by providing a support system and helping them learn life skills. “It’s about helping kids with no resources,” McCloud explains, “kids who might otherwise end up on the street.”

It’s about hope

With the emphasis on technology in school and in many professions, computer skills are essential for success. Laptop computers are no longer a luxury, they’re a necessity. But if you aren’t sure where the money is coming from to pay for food or housing, even the cheapest of laptops are completely out of reach.

Appriss employees Megan Bailey, Yolanda Fakir, and Alex Espinal; Photo courtesy of Caleb Perry, http://calebperry.com.

H.O.P.E., which stands for “Helping Other People Every day,” is at the core of McCloud’s approach to giving kids a brighter future–and that’s a vision shared by Appriss employees. When McCloud and his organization came to their attention, the folks at tech-focused Appriss knew exactly how they could help.

After six months of coordinated efforts, hope for a better future came to the non-profit in the form of five fully operational laptops. In the future, the plan is to expand the partnership between McCloud and Appriss and offer IT training to the young men as well.

Making a better community

Yolanda Fakir, a supervisor in the company’s call center, co-chairs Appriss’ community service committee with Kate Chmielewski, Marketing Communications Specialist. Megan Bailey, who also works in the call center, serves as the secretary, but Fakir says she’s the glue that holds everything together. “Megan is the lifeline for the committee,” she explains. “She handles all the planning and coordination and manages the budget.”

Alex Espinal, Technical Support Specialist, is the committee’s historian and, says Fakir, the go-to guy for the group’s technical needs. With Fakir’s guidance, Alex also is learning the ropes so he can chair the committee next year. It’s a role he looks forward to taking on.

Photo courtesy of Caleb Perry, http://calebperry.com.

While the committee members come from different departments and have various levels of responsibility in the company, they share a passion for helping others and making a difference in their community. They also have a deep appreciation for the support they receive from Appriss to make it happen. Not only does the company allocate funds for community service projects, the committee is given wide latitude to work on the projects during office hours.

A company-wide benefit

For many companies, the benefits it offers have to do with employee healthcare or dental and vision coverage. At Appriss, it also means how the company supports employees’ goals for helping others. It doesn’t matter whether someone is on the formal committee or not. All employees can offer suggestions on which organizations they’d like to support and they pitch in when extra help is needed.

For the Laptop Donation Project, the committee partnered with Appriss’ Technology Department, whose members help prepare the laptops so they’d be ready for donation. They had a ready volunteer in Desktop Support Technician Caleb Perry, who became a de facto member of the committee for the duration of the project. Perry explained that all company data had to be removed from the laptops, a time-consuming but necessary process. He loves being a part of Appriss because the company truly stands behind its motto of “knowledge for good,” and the man hours spent stripping the computers of all proprietary data were considered time well spent.

Donating the laptops is just one of the projects the committee has worked on this year and Fakir says employees have been just as generous with their time and energy on other community service tasks. Most recently, she says that employees helped fill food baskets so families in need could enjoy a holiday dinner with all the trimmings.

Fakir and the other committee members agree that working at Appriss allows them to make a positive impact in their community and that’s a benefit not every company offers. You can find out more about the benefits of working at Appriss here.

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