by Liz Austin

Whether volunteering in company-sponsored events like Project Inspire and back-to-school activities, or through their personal efforts, NVIDIA employees are passionate about giving back to their communities.

Three NVIDIANs who exemplify this spirit have recently had $1,000 grants awarded to their favorite charities by the NVIDIA Foundation, our employee-led corporate foundation.

The awards are part of our Volunteer Recognition Program, now in its second year, which acknowledges employees who volunteer more than 36 hours a year and rewards a deeply dedicated few with grants to their supported charities.

Read about the important work being accomplished and what drives this year’s grant recipients to give back.

Mark Weiler, OEM Quality Engineer, Austin, Texas – The Amala Foundation

For three years, I have been volunteering with the Amala Foundation, which engages adults and children in humanitarian service projects around the world, and it has been a life-changing experience.

Mark Weiler and the Amala Foundation

My main focus has been with the Global Youth Peace Summit, a camp where refugee, immigrant, international and American youth, ages 13 to 18, come together for eight days each summer to participate in heart-centered dialog, compassionate service, authentic expression and self-exploration. Many of these kids have harrowing personal stories of refugee camps and life-threatening situations that most people could only imagine.

Last year, one of the boys in my cabin had spent 12 of his 14 years in a refugee camp in Tanzania and didn’t speak until the last few days of camp, when he taught me a song in his native Swahili that I sing to this day. Upon returning to camp this year, he walked up, looked me right in the eyes and gave me a hug that wouldn’t let go. He had found his courage to participate in the world.

I am delighted to share this grant with the Amala Foundation and grateful to work for a company that truly cares about our community.

Weixing Chen, Staff Database Administrator, Santa Clara, Calif. – Gracious Life Foundation

Inspired by a family member who survived acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), the most common form of childhood cancer, I cofounded in 2009 the Gracious Life Foundation, which teaches kids with cancer to play golf as a means to help them recuperate from chemotherapy.

Weixing Chen and the Gracious Life Foundation

Since its inception, the foundation has held many “Birdie for ALL” events that mobilize the best junior golfers in the San Francisco Bay Area to raise money and awareness for ALL research and treatment at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in Palo Alto, Calif., and support for ailing and recovering children at the local Ronald McDonald House and Camp Okizu in Berry Creek, Calif.

I feel lucky to combine my passion for golf with my desire to help others in a way that can help so many children with cancer. And I am immensely proud to be recognized by the NVIDIA Foundation for my efforts.

Priyank Desai, Senior Systems Software Engineer, Santa Clara, Calif. – Vibha

My deepening involvement with Vibha has been fueled by my strong belief in the organization’s mission: to educate, empower and enable every individual who wishes to make a positive difference in the lives of underprivileged children.

Priyank Desai and Vibha

After participating in Vibha fundraising events for about five years, I was inspired to become a volunteer in 2011 to raise funds, increase awareness for Vibha and facilitate projects that provide access to education, health care and training to disadvantaged youth.

This year, I volunteered as a sponsorship lead for Vibha’s flagship event, The Dream Mile. In addition to supporting publicity, logistics and registration for the event, I organized a team of NVIDIA employees to participate and raise funds for this wonderful cause.

I thank NVIDIA for believing so strongly in the spirit of giving and volunteering. It feels great to be part of a company that supports giving back to the community.