Rackspace Week of Volunteering Goes Global

By jessicaluhrman -

Rackspace Week of Volunteering Goes Global

Clearing out endangered bird habitat. Building homes for low income residents. Cooking for the hungry.

Those are just some of the ways Rackers took part in Rackspace's first global "Week of Volunteering" event, which wraps up today.

The Week of Volunteering included events in Australia, the United Kingdom, Mexico and multiple cities in Texas, including Austin, Dallas and San Antonio.

“This is a week dedicated to giving back to all of our global communities in ways that are special and meaningful to us as individuals and as teams," said Courtney Skarda, vice president of Racker Experience and executive sponsor of Community Affairs. "It’s one week when we use our collective time, talent and treasure to make an impact and share our gifts with others."

Throughout the week, Rackers, as our employees are known, volunteered at the North Texas Food Bank, OzHarvest, the Austin Soup Kitchen, SA Pets Alive!, Morgan's Wonderland, Habitat for Humanity and more.

Rackers in the UK participated in the Week of Volunteering for the first time at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

Week of Volunteering UK
This week, Rackers in the UK cleared endangered bird habitat at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

“The UK team was excited to collaborate more closely with our global colleagues this year,” said Matthew Johns, manager of Product Launch. Local Rackers helped clear endangered heathland habitat, to make it easier for native bird species to nest and thrive there, he said.

Rackspace launched its first Week of Volunteering in 2012, when the company offered paid volunteer time off as a benefit. Back then, the volunteer event took place quarterly in San Antonio, with an average of 300 volunteer time off hours.

In 2016, Rackers more than tripled their volunteer hours for the Week of Volunteering with a total of 926 volunteer hours.

The Rack Gives Back Foundation, sponsor of the Week of Volunteering, is a community initiative funded by Rackspace employees to support communities around Rackspace offices with grants for arts and culture, education and technology.

“Fanatical Support is all about having a heart of service," said Allie Patterson, community affairs specialist. "Whether it's our external customers, internal customers, our community, or our friends and families, Rackers give 100 percent to make a difference and have an impact.”

Rackers prepared meals for the homeless at the Soup Kitchen in Austin, Texas.
Rackers prepared meals for the homeless at the Soup Kitchen in Austin, Texas.

Almost 50 percent of Rackers participate in formal Rack Gives Back events, Patterson said, while the total number of Rackers utilizing volunteer time off has increased 20 percent year over year.

Throughout the year, teams often volunteer in projects that they are passionate about, said Johns.

“In June, we had a team of 18 Rackers climb the highest mountains in England, Scotland and Wales in a 24 hour period, as a part of the Three Peak Challenge, to raise funds for the Harlington Hospice Association," he said. "To be able to continue to give back in conjunction with Rackspace international offices for the Week of Volunteering is exciting.

Rackers in Mexico participated in the Week of Volunteering and collected donations for the elderly.
Rackers in Mexico participated in the Week of Volunteering and collected donations for the elderly.

In 2015, the volunteer hours Rackers logged were valued at more than $850,000.

“That's a pretty significant investment for the hundreds of non-profits we give to in the cities we live in,” said Cara Nichols, director of Community Affairs at Rackspace. And it's not just money Rackers give, she said — they're also known in the community as being some of the hardest-working volunteers.

On the final day, Rackers in Sydney Australia volunteered at OzHarvest, the leading food rescue charity there, and while those in Dallas lent a hand to the North Texas Food Bank, which distributes purchased and prepared foods to those in need.

Throughout the week, many Rackers organized individual projects with their own teams.

In San Antonio, Rackers volunteered at Morgan's Wonderland, a 25-acre theme park designed with special-needs individuals in mind.
In San Antonio, Rackers volunteered at Morgan's Wonderland, a 25-acre theme park designed with special-needs individuals in mind.

“One of my favorite components of Rack Gives Back is that we encourage Rackers to donate their volunteer efforts in a way that they feel is best," said Skarda. "It's not a corporate mandate or a list of things that you must do in order to participate, but a time when we work to demonstrate volunteerism in a way that resonates personally with each of us as individuals. That's powerful."

Learn more about how Rackspace volunteers in our communities.