by Tonie Hansen

Ted Wang and Johnny Costello are two NVIDIA employees who’ve made volunteering a big part of their lives. In fact, their dedication recently earned their favorite non-profit organizations $500 grants from the NVIDIA Foundation. Their stories are pretty inspiring, so we asked if they could share with our blog readers, what the volunteering experience means to them.

Ted Wang, based in Santa Clara, is a volunteer counselor with Royal Family Kids’ Camps (RFKC):

Having grown up in a single-parent family, I am inspired by RFKC’s vision to reach and support children from broken families. I feel very fortunate to have been able to take a week of PTO each year to volunteer and make an impact in the lives of these children. Although it is usually the most exhausting use of my vacation time, it is also the most fulfilling.

Being a camp counselor at RFKC is probably the closest I have come to being a parent, since the counselors are literally with the kids the whole week. There are structured activities each day for the kids (climbing the rock wall, making tie dye shirts and campfire night are a few examples), but for the most part the counselors do whatever the kids want to do, whether it’s making a birdhouse in arts and crafts, playing tetherball or hiking down to the river and catching frogs. Even though the kids often act out and it can be trying to get them to brush their teeth or go to bed at lights out (10 pm), I love that my heart has been stretched and enlarged by RFKC. I’m grateful to Royal Family for giving me the opportunity to love these kids.

Royal Family Kids’ Camps (RFKC), in Humboldt County, California, is a nationwide network of camps that seeks to create positive memories for abused, neglected and abandoned children.

Johnny Costello, based in St. Louis, volunteer with his wife, Rachel, at the Wildlife Rescue Center:

I’m inspired to volunteer by constantly seeing how much difference a single person’s effort can make. It spurs you on to know that just a few hours of your time each week can make such a large difference in someone else’s life or the life of a wild animal. My wife and I figure out an amount of time that we think we can dedicate to volunteering consistently each week. Sometimes this amount of time changes due to life events, but we try to find a baseline that we can easily return to and maintain over time.

Working at the Center has been a rewarding experience for me because I believe that we have a duty to be responsible for our interactions with wildlife. While at the Center, I get to help make a positive difference in the lives of these wild animals as an animal care volunteer shift supervisor. Although the duties vary throughout the year, I’m usually busy feeding orphaned baby squirrels, waterfowl, cottontails, opossums and terrestrial and aquatic turtles. I also assist the animal care staff with certain procedures, clean enclosures and coordinate other animal care volunteers on my shift. During baby season, Rachel and I foster orphans in our home as well. I look forward to expanding my experience through advanced species training and becoming more involved in animal rescues. I think it’s great that NVIDIA supports its employees and their volunteer organizations through the Volunteer Recognition Program. It’s a credit to our corporate integrity, and it makes me even more proud to work at NVIDIA.

The Wildlife Rescue Center, in Ballwin, Missouri, serves the greater St. Louis area, working to rehabilitate injured, sick and orphaned native wildlife for release back into their natural habitats.