This blog was posted on behalf of Addison Mercer, a Giving Programs Specialist based in Portland, Oregon. Addison, preferably known as Addi, is immensely passionate about corporate responsibility’s impact on our local communities. In her day-to-day, she works to support the Intel Involved program and Community Engagement Managers worldwide.
Every year, the Intel Involved Global Hero Award recognizes employee volunteers that demonstrate an extraordinary commitment to their communities, and the Intel Foundation awards grants to their chosen causes. 2020 was my first year reviewing the hundreds of heartfelt nominations we receive- and it was also the year that changed everything, including volunteering, in a big way. While many were unable to commit to service, our finalists from around the world not only lent a hand but stepped up to do more than ever before. I was lucky enough to end my year immersed in countless stories of kindness, dedication, and optimism. As you read about our Heroes, I hope you also take comfort in the fact that even- perhaps especially- in a global crisis, there are always those thinking of others, looking to help, and changing lives.
Name: Luis Rojas Munoz
Cause: COVID relief, Proyecto Daniel
Part of what made coordinating the Hero Award both wonderful and challenging in 2020 was the numerous stories about those affected by the pandemic. Our overall winner, Luis D. Rojas of Costa Rica, stood out for his leverage of technical skills and organizational achievement. Along with a team of extraordinary co-workers and in partnership with the public health agency, Luis created mathematical models to project new COVID-19 cases and anticipated the need for ICU capacity. The team spent over 1000 hours leveraging their expertise in data science, statistical process control, and machine learning system deployment. The data analysis models were presented to the President, becoming one of Costa Rica’s essential tools to create public health policy and inform their pandemic response.
Name: Anubhav David
Cause: Education/Community Support, Love and Serve India
Anubhav is an inspiring example of how volunteering for a community leads one to become a community member truly. In 2020, he supported local villages in India with a charitable organization, empowered young girls with education and entrepreneurial skills, and helped local communities respond to COVID-19 and natural disasters. In addition, Anubhav built such a strong relationship with the families he supported that he and his new wife celebrated their wedding with the village–creating memories that will last forever.
Name: Js Tan
Cause: COVID relief, Penang General Hospital
When COVID-19 cases surged in Malaysia, JS Tan took immediate action. JS communicated with local hospitals and medical facilities to understand their needs amid the pandemic and began delivering PPE and meals to first responders. His fervent dedication and support to his community throughout 2020 inspired a group of volunteers to make 1,300 face shields distributed to frontline workers.
Name: Mike Espig
Cause: COVID relief, Love Inc
I work at Intel’s Hillsboro campus in Oregon. For an entire month, there was only one story my team spoke of: engineer Mike Espig’s swift efforts, in collaboration with Washington County, to transform an old hotel into a shelter for COVID-positive, houseless patients in less than 72 hours. In an incredible show of commitment, he moved into the hotel for a month to get it started, sourced cubicle walls for privacy, and secured $20,000 worth of furniture for the building. Hero Award nominees are more than coordinators for organizations- they do their work with a staggering amount of heart.
Name: Anant Jahagirdar
Cause: Community Support, Sewa International
100,000+. That’s how many pounds of food were delivered to people battling food insecurity in Oregon, thanks to Anant Jahagirdar. He recruited over 50 volunteers, organized logistics, and arranged the storage and delivery of meal boxes that went to refugee communities, healthcare workers, COVID patients, and their families and those affected by the wildfires that ravaged the state last year. Volunteering is an integral part of Anant’s life- he has been working with a local food pantry for over ten years and has raised his daughters to join him and understand the importance of lending a hand.
Name: Masud Rahman
Cause: Youth Support, Muslim Outreach and Volunteer Enterprise (MOVE)
I’m of the opinion that the most meaningful way to be a leader is by empowering and creating new leaders. Masud Rahman has been volunteering with youth in the bay area for years by assisting MOVE with programs where students develop public speaking skills, receive career counseling, and learn of programming and robotics. He’s not alone, either: older mentors who have gone through the programs themselves return to coach students, helping to usher in a new class of leaders.
Name: Ronit Iaufer
Cause: Community Support, Cauliflower Project
Ronit knows a thing or two about all the coordination that goes into providing lasting, meaningful support for a community. After volunteering with the Cauliflower Project in Israel as a cook for four years, she worked her way up to a management role and is an integral part of the organization’s mission to provide home-cooked meals for the disabled and elderly community members. During the holidays, their busiest time of year, Ronit walks around 20 miles every day to ensure everyone, everywhere, receives the care they deserve.
Name: Declan Horgan
Cause: Mental Health, Dublin Samaritans
Last year, mostly everyone would tell you that interacting with others was what they missed most. For those who struggle with mental health, the harsh effects of the pandemic were twofold. Their isolation increased, and social services were no longer available. Declan Horgan, a trained Listening Volunteer at Dublin Samaritans in Ireland, coordinated the organization’s response- establishing safety protocols like contact tracing and ventilation standards that allowed listeners to return to work and continue 50 years of unbroken service. Declan took nearly 1000 calls in 2020, providing time, attention, and empathy for others when it is needed most.
Name: Daher Kaiss
Cause: Education, Alresala School
While the passions of Intel volunteers vary widely, there’s no shortage of employees who want to share their love for technology and engineering with the next generation. Daher Kaiss went a step further, collaborating with the local government and Intel to secure funding for a local school’s science lab in Israel. Students will learn to increase things like digital clocks and traffic lights. Perhaps most significantly, he has inspired other employees to introduce the program at their local schools, ensuring STEM opportunities are available to more future engineers.