by Laura Clemmensen

Recognizing employees who give their time to help others is an important part of encouraging a culture of contribution. NVIDIA’s Volunteer Recognition Program singles out employees who show extra dedication to charitable causes by donating $500 to the organizations where they volunteer. Today, we spotlight our grant recipients – Michael Chao, Scott Timmins, Joseph Walters and Subhasha Ranjan – and their thoughts on volunteering.

Michael Chao, based in Santa Clara, is a volunteer with the Tzu Chi USA Foundation:

Michael Chao (back, center) with
other volunteers at Tzu Chi.

I feel very grateful to have a chance to give back to society by volunteering. By simply donating some of my spare time, I get to watch people’s faces light up as they take home items that are crucial for their day-to-day lives. Tzu Chi provides an excellent platform for me to share my enthusiasm for giving back.

This is my third year with Tzu Chi. This non-profit provides help to local communities by delivering food and warm clothes to the homeless, recycling and protecting the environment, raising funds for international disaster relief, offering weekend schooling for young people and organizing free medical and dental clinics through their work with Remote Area Medical.

I like to get involved in most Tzu Chi activities, but I especially focus on the medical clinics and the work we do at the Parkview nursing home in Hayward, California. Over the years, my fellow volunteers and I have become good friends with residents at Parkview. We tell jokes and sing songs with them and make them feel that they are not forgotten. Sometimes they’ll tell us stories that they don’t normally share with other people. They have become part of my family and we celebrate holidays together. Nothing compares to the happiness I receive from such experiences.

The Tzu Chi Foundation is a worldwide organization with nearly 10 million volunteers in 50 countries. Its four major missions are charity, medicine, education and humanistic culture.

Subhasha Ranjan, based in Pune, is a volunteer with Samajik Vikas Sansthan

Samajik Vikas Sansthan (SVS) is a Madhubani, India-based non-profit that I’ve known about since my childhood, which focuses on development and health education among the rural poor. The tremendous good work it does has led me to get involved and lend a helping hand.

I’ve been involved in a number of SVS initiatives: educational sessions for children and the elderly, policy advocacy through workshops and seminars designed to raise awareness about rights and benefits, and a variety of health camps.

Whenever I visit my home village, I take the opportunity to get involved in charitable activities. These activities have benefited hundreds of people.

Apart from my work with SVS, I’ve also volunteered with organizations such as Teach India (an educational initiative of the Times of India) and I-Shine (a comprehensive stroke rehabilitation and awareness campaign). I’m a big admirer of Warren Buffett, and, like him, I believe that everyone should do his or her bit for society.

Samjik Vikas Sansthan is an NGO based in Madhubani in India’s Bihar state. It is focused on development and health education among the rural poor.

Scott Timmins, based in Chicago, is a volunteer with the domestic violence shelter of the Most Blessed Trinity

Scott Timmins carving head-rails for
the shelter’s trundle beds.

My family has been working with the Most Blessed Trinity parish in Waukegan, Illinois, since January. It has several ministries, which do a lot of work with the poor. Most Blessed Trinity also funds and operates emergency shelters, food pantries, soup kitchens and is opening a new domestic violence shelter. I enjoy working with them because they help families meet their fundamental needs while fostering a safe, dignified environment.

My family (wife Margie and two teenage children, Jackie and Nathan) recently worked with another family to prepare Most Blessed Trinity’s new House of Peace domestic violence shelter. We built 12 sets of trundle beds in my basement workshop through nights and weekends. The completed bed sets were delivered four months later, on Labor Day.

An important goal of this project is to provide a safe, high-quality environment that serves as a home, not an institution. Women and their children who come to the shelter are breaking a cycle of years of physical and psychological abuse. It’s very rewarding to contribute our time and abilities toward creating a home where they can rebuild their lives. We’ll continue to support this organization as long as there is a need.

Most Blessed Trinity is a nonprofit corporation working under the direction of the Archdiocese of Chicago. The community services arm assists those who are unable to meet their daily living needs while focusing on programs to help them become self-sufficient.

Joseph Walters, based in Santa Clara, is a volunteer with 4-H

4-H Summer Camp where Joseph
has been a chaperone and
staff trainer for 3 years.

When I tell people that I volunteer with 4-H, the typical first question is, “Where do you keep your cow?”

4-H was created in the late 1800s with a mission to connect public school education with rural life. Members were enlisted as conduits for innovation, helping persuade farmers to accept new research-based ideas from the land grant universities. Their goal is to cultivate youth and adult partnerships, which can be potent and synergistic instruments of change.

Through the 4-H of today, youth aged 9 to 19 work, learn and grow together on volunteer service activities, multi-day leadership conferences and week-long summer camps. They focus on experiential, hands-on learning to foster deep understanding, innovation and leadership skills. I am fortunate to be involved with 4-H. It’s cliché, but in the seven years I have been involved with them, I have learned much more from the young people I work with than I can put into words.

Presently, I assist 4-H youth by co-leading a club of about 150 members. I’m the lead chaperone at a seven-day summer camp and multi-day leadership conferences. I coordinate the Santa Clara County Science, Engineering and Technology initiative. And I participate in outreach events such as the Prusch Farm Harvest Festival in South San Jose and Operation Military Kids.

4-H is the nation’s largest youth development organization. Members engage in hands-on learning activities in the areas of science, citizenship and healthy living.