In January, everyone at Soliant came together in Santa Cruz, CA for our annual company offsite. This was my first year attending and it was so much fun (which is actually an understatement). We learned about how Soliant has done over the years and discussed company-wide goals for 2013. It wasn’t all serious (actually, I’m not sure we went more than 10 minutes without something funny being said). We had a great time playing board and card games, strumming instruments and singing around the fire pit, and roaming the Santa Cruz boardwalk (Careful: Soliant Developer Sara is an impressive laser tag opponent).
Possibly the most awesome thing we did during the offsite was volunteer at Homeless Services Center in Santa Cruz. Throughout the year, Soliant donates money to charities, which is a fantastic thing in itself. But going out and spending some time helping was an unforgettable experience and a true feel-good moment.
We started off by getting a tour of the shelter: whether it’s emergency help or homes for families to help them get back on their feet, this shelter has it all. They made it very clear that their goal was to help prevent homelessness, which means their services include things like job placement and counseling; the ultimate goal being self-sufficiency. But like any non-profit organization, they can always use some volunteers.
Once we had a better idea of who we were helping, it was time to get to work! We split up into groups to rake leaves, do yard work, clean, and create cards and luggage tags. All the Chicagoans wanted the yard work. “It’s so nice outside,” they said. False. For a girl who’s lived in Texas for 6 years, it was cold. So off they went to bask in the sun and enjoy the lack of snow on the ground.
Another group cleaned anything and everything they could in the Family shelter. The Family shelther has suffered during the cold and flu season, so cleaning and disinfecting surfaces was a constant and necessary thing. There was a large pantry and dining area, as well as 2 lounges, that needed a bit of sprucing up, so towels and mops in hand, that group gave things a good cleaning.
I was part of the group in the craft room. In December, the woman who works in the mailroom made Christmas cards for the residents and realized just how a simple (though time consuming!) action really made people smile. This time around, she asked us for our help in creating Valentine’s day cards (200 of them!), as well as luggage tags for those who stay in the shelter.
By the end of it, we’d made friends with a few kids staying at the shelter and Makah took a little time to swing alongside her new friend.
Well, I’m not sure this little girl was my friend after I politely said no to her taking a picture with my dSLR, but I could be wrong. Oh, who am I kidding… the picture doesn’t lie. Priceless.
It was a privilege to help and to be a part of something bigger. Thank you to Homeless Services Center for having us!
I think it’s fair to say that it was one of the most fun work events I’ve ever been a part of. Here’s my final thought:
Every day, I work as a developer and a consultant. I talk to clients, I develop in FileMaker. I discuss workflows and processes, expectations and timelines. I work! Now, to be clear, I love my work. I get to help clients solve work problems, which hopefully leads to a happier work life for them. It doesn’t get much better than that. That is, until I realized that I work with some of the most amazing people out there. We got together for a few days, talked about the company, and had a blast getting to know each other better. Soliant promotes work-life integration, and the offsite was great proof of that. These aren’t just my co-workers. These are friends who are the brightest and best of the industry. And we get to do a little good in the world together.