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Cisco Systems Inc.

10/20/2020 | News release | Distributed by Public on 10/20/2020 09:03

When disaster strikes: Empowering employees to support the American Red Cross

Cisco and its employees are proud to support the American Red Cross and its lifesaving work. Our 20-year partnership has inspired a groundswell of employee support; it empowers employees to make donations and volunteer, compounded with matched donations. This energy has resulted in thousands of dedicated volunteer hours and more than $25 million in donations to the Red Cross.

A constant supply of relief and resources

The American Red Cross, established in 1881, is one of the longest-running NGOs in the United States. While its iconic logo has become synonymous with disaster relief, the Red Cross also provides support through its biomedical, training, armed forces, and volunteerism lines of service.

In 2000, Cisco and its employees started contributing donations, cash, and product grants to support the U.S. Disaster Relief and International Response Funds, which enable the Red Cross to respond to countless crises at home and around the world each year.

The Cisco Foundation donates $10 to the Red Cross for every employee volunteer hour or blood donation. Since 2016 alone, 10,351 Cisco employees have volunteered 12,128 hours, generating over $121K in volunteer hour donations made to the Red Cross. In addition, employees donated over $1.5M to the Red Cross - with matches from Cisco Foundation, this resulted in over $3M in donations to support the Red Cross' work.

Jennifer Adrio, CEO of American Red Cross' Northern Coastal California Region said, 'It really says something about an organization when their employees are so engaged with our work. From donating blood to financial contributions to knocking on doors to install free smoke alarms, Cisco has continuously walked the walk in their commitment to the Red Cross.'

Giving of blood

Many Cisco employees have donated their blood at blood drives and biomedical centers. Over the years, we've donated enough blood to save hundreds of people's lives. In only four blood drives, 118 Cisco volunteers donated 106 productive units (13.25 gallons) of blood, saving 318 patient lives.

Rhonda Beasley, Administrative Assistant at Cisco's Research Triangle Park (RTP) campus in North Carolina, has been part of Cisco's Red Cross blood drive team for six years, helping others through the process of giving blood. The reason she works so hard on blood drives is 'to meet people. But more importantly, the knowledge that [donating blood] is important.'

On the blood drive team, Rhonda oversees much of the logistics, like reaching out to previous donors to sign up, ensuring that the Red Cross volunteers get set up before 7:30am, and supervising the check-in desk so donations stay on schedule. Her favorite part of volunteering with the Red Cross is 'every Red Cross volunteer, whether it was a volunteer or a staff member, is always perfect, wonderful, knowledgeable, and polite to the donors. And they're nice to [the Blood Drive team], too.'

Corporate disaster relief training

After the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the Red Cross Headquarters' phone systems unexpectedly went down. In no time, all disaster hotline calls were quickly rerouted to Cisco's main office, which happened to be just down the road. Without hesitation, Cisco employees stepped up to man their new Red Cross call center, by answering questions, helping people in need, and providing information referrals.

In response to this emergency hotline experience, leaders at Cisco developed Ready When the Time Comes, a disaster relief corporate training program, complete with certifications and badges.

Barbara Larkin, Red Cross' Senior Director Strategic Corporate Relationships, stated, 'Cisco would support us with meeting space and give Cisco employees the time off work to take these training sessions. And it was a huge help to us during disasters. We could put people right to work who had gone through those training sessions because we needed people to help.'

Volunteers learned how to apply these skills to disaster response, provide mass care, and identify volunteer opportunities. As many as 3,000 Cisco trainees qualified for Red Cross' 'Fulfilling Our Mission' and 'Mass Care' certifications.

Fire safety education

The Sound the Alarm program educates community members about fire safety and installs and updates smoke alarms in local homes. Joe Fleming, a Senior Manager Finance Controller in North Carolina's RTP location, has twice gathered a group of Cisco volunteers to Sound the Alarm, explaining that his volunteer group would 'go to locations in the Raleigh-Durham area, knock on doors and offer to install smoke alarms in the homes.'

Shirin Escobedo-Gicheru, a Senior Finance Analyst, volunteered with Joe at the Sound the Alarm events, saying that it 'hit particularly close to home for me because I've experienced a fire before.' Fortunately for Shirin, she and her husband had previously discussed a safety plan in case of emergency. They lost everything in the fire except the bag of important paperwork she grabbed on her way out.

Shirin went on to say she valued the opportunity to volunteer with the Red Cross because, 'you get to go and help out in a person's most difficult moment, when they've lost everything. To assist in such a difficult moment to make it easier for them. I think that's the beauty and value that makes Red Cross work so important.'

Typhoons propelling support

When Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines in late 2013, its destruction amplified the intense need for updated maps and mapping systems of remote locations. In response to this urgent need, and with the help of some early stage funding from Cisco, the Red Cross leadership initiated Missing Maps, a collaboration between the American Red Cross, British Red Cross, Médecins Sans Frontières-UK (MSF-UK, or Doctors Without Borders-UK), and OpenStreetMap (OSM), an open-source online map of the world.

Five years after initiating Missing Maps, 2,500 Cisco employees have logged more than 6,300 volunteer hours while participating in Red Cross-hosted Missing Maps' map-a-thons around the world. This exhaustible work resulted in countless deliveries of food and medical supplies to remote locations, saving lives.

For as long as relief is needed, the Red Cross will be there. 'You can expect the Red Cross to be there always. But we couldn't be there without that upfront support of our partners,' Barbara Larkin added. 'We wouldn't have the resources to go and deploy if it wasn't for the people who are fueling us with time, blood, and financial support.'

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