On October 30-31 2013, Austin’s Onion Creek flooded, reaching a record depth of 40.15 feet and leading to the deaths of four people. Sylvia Gonzales was one of the many residents who lost their homes. She moved in with her son and his family and enjoyed seeing him and her grandchildren more often, but she missed her independence as well.
Last November, we were thrilled to dedicate Sylvia’s new house, the sixth house that our employees have built with Habitat for Humanity in Austin. Building houses with Austin Habitat is one of the most popular volunteer events among our Austin staff. It’s a great way to get out of the office and work together on a project that’s completely different than what they do every day, all for a great cause.
This is just one of the ways Silicon Labs is committed to sharing our success with the community. We strongly believe that community service is a tangible opportunity to build a smarter, more connected world. Each year, Silicon Labs donates one percent of profits in money, time and in-kind donations every year. Our primary funding focus is Science Technology Engineering and Math education (STEM), but we also focus on arts organizations, as well as quality of life organizations like Habitat.
Now a homeowner, Sylvia says she is thrilled to be able to cook whatever she wants. Her grandmother taught her to bake when she was about six and she is eager to continue the family tradition of baking delicious cakes and cookies in her own brand new kitchen.
Our Habitat team experienced Sylvia’s love of cooking firsthand – every morning without fail she appeared at the building site with tasty breakfast tacos and some of the spiciest salsa we’ve ever tasted! Of the volunteers who worked on her house, Sylvia says, “I appreciate them. Without them, I would have nothing.”
From a company perspective, volunteering with Austin Habitat helps our employees learn how to work together as a team to accomplish a larger goal. Many of the soft skills they use while building a house they can bring with them back to the office.
VP and Chief Information Officer, Everett Plante, is the board Chair of Habitat in Austin. He tells us how rewarding this volunteer work is, “Talking to Sylvia about her plans and vision for her future home made the impact we’re having tangible. It showed how a group of people with the drive to support one another through times of misfortune can really make a difference in others’ lives, regardless of their skill level.”
Over the years, our support of Austin Habitat has grown tremendously, both in terms of employee contributions, corporate gifts, and volunteers.
Sandra Truckis, a desktop analyst at Silicon Labs who has worked on houses in the past, has this to say about her experience, “I’ve done a lot of small-scale building and worked with tools in the past on things like furniture repair and woodworking projects. However, this was fantastic because we were able to work with complete strangers toward a common goal, alongside the woman who would eventually take ownership of the house.”
She smiles as she adds, “Of course, apart from the spirit of teamwork and service for others, it was pretty memorable to use the ramset powder-actuated gun to drive nails into concrete… I particularly liked yelling, ‘fire in the hole!’”
The next post in this series we’ll take a look at how much technology has changed over the past 20 years. And don’t forget to read the previous post in this series here.