Reflecting on Fastly’s first-ever Global Week of Service

The mindset of giving back to others is at the core of Fastly’s values and drives our sense of community within the company. So to usher in 2021, we launched Fastly’s first virtual Global Week of Service. Inspired by Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, and other global servant leaders, we encouraged Fastlyans to give their time and energy to causes they care about. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”

From January 16-24, we encouraged folks to take at least two hours of time out of the workweek in order to give back together, connect with colleagues, and volunteer. We provided local, national, and international recommendations for specific ways to give back, scheduled some group activities throughout the week for people to join in, and also ensured it was flexible and people could still participate in a more self-directed way based on their schedules. Especially during a year when connecting in real life wasn’t possible, our Global Week of Service let us be hands-on and interactive, even while we were apart. And it turned out to be a truly impactful week: Fastlyans shared a number of moving experiences in a dedicated Slack channel, and we ultimately saw volunteers support more than 15 different causes for a wide range of incredible organizations. 

Our global week of service engaged people at all levels of the organization, across all departments. There were many great stories: from Dana Wolf, our SVP of Product and Marketing, who spent time with her kids coloring meal bags for Project Angel Heart, to Deanna Barshop, a Technical Writer on the Product Management Team, who made bookmarks for an organization called Liberation Library that helps provide books to youth in prison across the U.S. Our CEO, Joshua Bixby, also took time to craft handmade cards for Cardz For Kidz, an organization dedicated to uplifting the spirits of children and seniors in hospitals. 

There were also many local, personal stories of giving back. Gaylin Walli, our Documentation Manager, spent her weekend stopping at her local Little Free Libraries to reorganize their offerings, provide new books, and fix up some small repairs. As someone who is a primary caretaker for her mother-in-law, having dedicated time to get involved with her community was especially meaningful. As she shared, “Working on maintaining the libraries gives us a way to give back not only during a pandemic, but when the urgent demands of being a caregiver are so prominent.”

With everything going on in the world and in our personal lives, it can be difficult to dedicate time to something other than work. Finding the energy can be draining, but through our programs and the feedback we’ve heard around the organization, it’s shown us clearly that when people do give back, they unlock valuable personal rewards.

As Brenda Pak, a co-founder and CEO of BackPac, put in Forbes, “I have found that in times of uncertainty, where the ground feels unsteady, I can achieve a certain level of calm by volunteering and giving back to the community.” Even the Mayo Clinic shows that a measurable reduction in anxiety comes from volunteering. By spending quality time helping others, we can all feel a sense of appreciation, which has shown stress-reducing effects — and that makes our community and work as a whole that much stronger.

Fastly supports our employees and community as a whole to go out and take action. Our Global Week of Service was not our first time getting involved in the things we care about: Fastly and its people have been donating to organizations like Fair Fight, Black Voters Matter, and the Hidden Genius Project, and supporting open-source and non-profit communities for years. 

We’re committed to fostering an environment where people have agency and opportunity to uplift their community as well as other communities in need, even if they have to do it from home during this time. And we know we’re not alone in that belief. If you or your organization is interested in partnering on future volunteer or community services projects, please do not hesitate to reach out to jwhite@fastly.com.

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