“Why I volunteer is behind me,’ co-chair of GoTo Gives, Anne Salgado says pointing back at her daughters immersed in an arts and crafts project. “As early as age eight I would go with my mother to volunteer events around our community,” Anne says, “and as soon as I was able to wear my children on my chest, I brought them too.”
For seven years and counting, Anne and Sarah Jaimes have led GoTo’s Southern California Region in different engagement opportunities, like Unity Shoppe. “It’s not necessarily an ongoing program,” Anne says, “it’s meant to be a stopgap for families that helps them get through a rough patch.” The nonprofit organization has much to offer, from a closet of clothing suitable for job interviews, to a toy store and gift boxes of essentials for senior citizens.
Sarah Jaimes and her daughter, Madison
“Barbara Tellefson – the late founder – had a mission of allowing people to shop with dignity so that when a recipient brings their children with them to the Family Services Center – referred to as the ‘Free Store’ – they don’t feel any different,” Sarah says. Unity Shoppe ranks first place among volunteers. “It’s a special place that doesn’t have boundaries of what they can do,” Sarah says.
Anne’s first time walking twenty-five shoppers through the ‘Free Store’ several years ago ignited a paradigm shift in her awareness. “The whole time I remember thinking, ‘Boy I am a lucky individual for a lot of reasons,’” Anne says. “‘I’m lucky because I haven’t personally been in such great need, but I’m also lucky to experience helping others so often over time.” The families check every item off their list, and everything gets scanned just like going to the grocery store, Anne explains. Since then, Anne has wondered what difficulties the people in her community might be having. "When you see somebody walking down the street, you just don’t know what they could be going through.”
Anne Salgado and her colleague, Christopher Kiffe
“GoTo Gives has a good pulse on the humanitarian efforts of things,” Sarah says, “and that’s a big difference among some companies that might have different giving arms.” According to Sarah, being present to what’s happening and how it impacts our employees – as a global company – is key.
Angela Bevin, Unity Shoppe’s new CEO came from poverty as a child. During lunch with Anne and Sarah, Angela shared that when she came on board, the organization didn’t have butter, milk, or eggs, yet they were providing macaroni and cheese kits. “How do you feed this to your kid if you don’t have all of the ingredients that go into it?” Angela wondered. “The financial contribution of our employees who participated in GoTo Gives Matching goes towards those essentials,” Sarah says.
“GoTo’s philosophy of giving involves using our people, products, and financial support to give back to our global community,” Anne says, “and anybody who knows me knows this to be true – a big part of the reason why I love working at this company is that I know what I do has an impact every day.”