This, the 34th annual Christmas column, has special meaning in a year of layoffs,
salary freezes, and stock market swoons. Many high tech workers are experiencing
first hand the want and hardships of the teenage mother and just-born son
huddled in the stable cold 20 centuries ago.
Yet legions of these unemployed in the midst of their own troubles have devoted
countless hours of volunteer time helping others in community charities.
been the annual custom of this column to recognize some of the good deeds of
industry workers in the service of others. This year the Christmas trophy goes
to all those who no longer have a corporate position but find the real truth of
the season in giving of themselves.
They are a real-life parable that there is more to career-building than sales
quotas, contract wins, company bonuses. As one volunteer organization web site
thought-for-the-day expresses it: "It doesn't interest me what you do for a
living. It doesn't interest me to know how much money you have. I want to know
if you can get up and do what needs to be done to feed the children."
That web site, www.charityfocus.org , was founded by Nipun Mehta, a former Sun
Microsystems manager, who left his $100,000 a year job to set up an online
organization to bring more than a thousand volunteers in touch with charitable
needs. Just one of the group's many achievements, a program to help exiled
Tibetan teenagers living in India, was commended by the Dalai Lama.
We are aware of other selfless deeds of industry people, representative of the
global outpouring too vast to report fully.
Kristine Terruso, an engineering secretary for BAE Systems Information and
Electronic Warfare Systems, Nashua, N.H., received $5,600 for new employee
referrals but donated all but $800 to local charities.
Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, N.M., has an employee program
collecting money to buy shoes for disadvantaged children who otherwise would
never know the thrill of getting a pair of shiny new footwear. This well-heeled
project this year provided more than 7,700 children in the community with new
shoes. Another Sandia program collected more than 4,000 diapers for family
shelters in the area.
EDS worker Vicki Adamson was looking out her office window at the company' s
pond in front the Herndon, Va., building. That got her thinking of a plastic
duck race across the pond to support breast cancer programs. A survivor herself,
Adamson got fellow workers to buy a duckie for $5 each to enter the 'Duck Race
for the Cure" event.
A General Electric company group, the GE African-American Forum, took time out
of its regular conference in Washington, D.C. to send members to schools in
impoverished neighborhoods to tutor and work with disadvantaged students.
A spinoff of globalization is all the charity work by overseas companies in
countries where they have operations. Even when employees leave these offshore
units, they keep on giving. A Hewlett-Packard alumni Group formed in Singapore
holds charity events to raise funds for the local Touch Community Services. Wong
Ngit Liong, president of Venture Corp. Ltd., heads the club of more than 100 HP
A holiday wreath also to all the industry frequency fliers who donate mileage to
charities, such as Make-A-Wish Foundation for severely ill children. Another
outreach is provided by Airline Ambassadors International, San Francisco, www.airlineamb.org, a group that arranges for airline personnel to deliver
clothing, medical supplies and other humanitarian aid to children around the
Speaking of flying, Klein Gilhousen, senior vice president at Qualcomm, San
Diego, is one of many industry execs who fly seriously ill children to distant
hospitals for treatment. Another executive jet Santa, Charles Kissner, top
official of Stratex Networks, San Jose, Calif., said the frequent mercy trips
helps him "focus on what is really important in life."
That is the holiday message of all faiths in these turbulent times.