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Volunteering at BOSS

As I wrote recently, some of us use part of our Professional Development Time at Balsamiq to do some volunteering.

We also encourage each other to share our learning experiences in order to inspire each other, so the "Bayamici" (the Balsamici from the Bay Area, CA) offered to talk about their recent volunteer experience.

In accordance with our Donation Policy, "Each year, every full-time employee can chose one non-profit organization for the company to make a contribution to. The amount of the contribution is 3% percent of the prior year profits divided by the number of full-time employees".

We keep track of our donations on a wiki page called "Donation Stories", where each of us writes about their donation, explaining their choice to their colleagues. Leon's donation for 2014 was to an organization called Building Opportunities for Self Sufficiency in Berkeley, California.

Here is what Leon wrote about BOSS:

I found out about this organization when I volunteered at one of their transitional housing centers in Berkeley last year. I love my city and I want to give help to people here who aren't as fortunate as we are.

A Different Friday

On Friday, March 27th Joy, Natalie, Valerie, Leon, and Mike met in downtown Berkeley to volunteer at BOSS.


They worked in a building that serves as transitional housing for homeless families with seven apartments where families can stay for two years to get back on their feet.

The garden needed some TLC: weeding, planning and creating plant beds, pruning, weed-guarding, and mulching.

Leon took on a big project with a centuryplant in the corner, weeding all around it, digging a bed, lining it with weed guard and mulch, and outlining the bed in vertical bricks:

Before... after

Before and After

This process also uncovered some hidden bike racks that could come in handy in bike-friendly Berkeley!

The center area was reclaimed by Joy who weeded, raked, added borders, and planted flowers. Natalie did the lavender topiary, more weeding, and created some new beds around existing plants. For curb appeal, Mike and Val weeded, raked, and re-bricked the edging of the front entrance.

Joy Joy-Natalie-Valerie
Gardening Mike

Joy summed up her feelings about the project this way:

As our guide for the day noted, having a nice, beautiful place to stay can do a lot for the family to feel good about themselves and their future. It was super fun to see everyone, to get involved in an organization that Leon donated to last year and to participate in a project in our greater local community.

And Val:

I love so much that we each are willing to put some sweat into the community.

That's it! Taking a little time off work to do something like this can really make a big difference in people's lives. If you're interested, we'll be sharing more stories similar to this one in the future.

What's your story? Does your company encourage volunteering activities? Let us know in the comments!

Francesca for the Balsamiq Team

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