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Win-Win: Be the Bridge and Time2Give


Kathy taking one of the shelter dogs for a walk
Kathy taking one of the shelter dogs for a walk

I am based in San Jose and work on The U team in Marketing and Communications supporting professional development. Last year, when I heard that a new benefit called Time2Give had launched, where I could get five days paid leave to give back to an organization of my choice, and one that mattered to me, I started volunteering as a dog socializer at the San Jose Animal Shelter.

While there, I learned of a unique, innovative, homeless shelter program through HomeFirst called Pet Project. HomeFirst operates one of the only shelters that allows homeless people to bring their dog with them. The shelter enables them to receive much needed case management, health care, mental health counselling, job assistance help with housing and access to a computer lab — without worrying about their pets. The homeless are often put off seeking support from shelters because they don't want to leave their pets behind.

Haze, following his medical check-up
Haze, following his medical check-up

HomeFirst also partners the with San Jose Animal Shelter, which donates veterinarian services which include medical check-ups, vaccinations, donations of food, toys, and dog coats. With Cisco's help, I was able to donate not just dog food, but money too, which was matched through Cisco's matching funds program.

It's a win-win. Homeless people get connected to much needed services, and their dogs are safe while that happens. Plus, they stay together, which also helps to reduce the animal shelter population!

I learned that when you help with one thing, it can actually connect to helping with other things. I had no idea that there was a connection between homeless animal care and care for homeless people! I've learned that when you put yourself out there, it can open up gateways to expanding your influence to make a difference. Helping animals impacts people as well, because homeless people need to give and receive love from dogs—it's critical to both people and pets.

Just some of the dogs that are being taken care of at the shelter
Just some of the dogs that are being taken care of at the shelter

Cisco provides a unique opportunity for employees to get out in the community during the work week through Time2Give, to help organizations that don't always have enough help during those hours. This is a huge commitment from Cisco for local communities, and I can see the difference it's making up close and personal. I'm extremely proud of the matching funds donation program as well. It matches my dollars to approved organizations for up to $10,000 annually. I'm so grateful for that. It's not just about profit—it's about community.

Through Time2Give and Cisco Matching funds, I can volunteer and combine my two passion areas to help needy, scared dogs feel better during the workweek, when it is quieter and less stressful at the animal shelter. Perfect!

An awning costing $25,000 is needed to provide shade to keep the pet area cool during the summer months and warm during the winter. Homefirst has already raised $10,000, you can support this project through Cisco's matching gifts program.

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