It’s a hot Saturday afternoon but the welcome that greeted the busload of SYKES volunteer employees is warmer still. The residents are visibly excited as they prepare for the Turnover Ceremonies of the SYKES Gawad Kalinga Village in Daanbantayan, Cebu for the survivors of Typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan).
When one of the strongest typhoons ever recorded devastated the Philippines, SYKES employees quickly came together under the banner of SYKES Cares, the company’s corporate social responsibility arm. SYKES Cebu employees immediately went to the affected areas to set up feeding stations and bring relief goods. Meanwhile, SYKES employees in Manila, US and Canada sent their team building funds and personal donations to contribute to the company’s efforts. Just after a few days after the tragedy, SYKES was able to raise more than Php2 Million in financial aid.
The company then decided to partner with Gawad Kalinga (GK) to help in the organization’s rebuilding projects. On April 25, 2015, SYKES employees and volunteers went to Daanbantayan, Cebu to help in the construction of the houses. Now, SYKES is back to the GK Village they helped build to formally turn over the houses to the beneficiaries. Aside from formally awarding the houses to the families, SYKES also surprised them with “housewarming gifts” in the form of groceries and sacks of rice.
During the turnover program, Renalyn Morales, one of the beneficiaries, tried to fight back tears as she recounted the hardships they faced after Yolanda, “I felt like giving up after the typhoon. I did not know how we can bounce back from what happened. That’s why we are very thankful to you. We can’t afford a house on our own. But with your help, we were able to have a home.”
In his message to the beneficiaries, John Sneed reaffirmed the company’s commitment to supporting the community, “SYKES is always thinking of what we can do more for the community and we thank you for giving us the opportunity to be a part of this.”
Meanwhile, employees of SYKES also shared their happiness when they witnessed how their efforts helped create a new start for other people. Joy De Leon a GRP Analyst shares, “When we first went to Daanbantayan to help build the houses, I was amazed that a lot of my fellow SYKESers volunteered, even those who came from shifts and had no sleep yet. But today, when you see the happiness in the faces of the beneficiaries, you realize that it’s all worth it.”
Another employee, James Morales, also added, “For me, being a volunteer is not only about giving your time and effort. It is a way of sharing your blessings with others. I am proud to be part of a company that truly cares for the community.”
To close the program, SYKESers and guests join the residents in performing the traditional Unity Dance of Gawad Kalinga. Then, it’s the beneficiaries’ turn to surprise the guests with a special lunch buffet that they shared with everyone.
For John Sneed though, SYKES’ support for the community only starts here, “To know that we were able to give people a home and help them carry on with their lives is a really great feeling. For me, the only question now is ‘what else can we do’? The good news is, no matter what project SYKES decides to take on next, they can count on supportive employees who are always ready to lend a helping hand.