A Nigerian Girl With a Faulty Heart Brought Our Company Together
This post is by Rachel Ramsey, media relations manager at Software Advice.
Our company found its purpose in the form of Confidence: a five-year-old girl from Benin City, Nigeria, who needed life-saving heart surgery.
At Software Advice, we employ around 100 people and we do a lot of good in offering them a competitive salary with excellent benefits – but our business isn’t exactly saving the world.
Recently, our CEO, Don Fornes, sent me a New York Times article about engaging employees. One of its key takeaways was that employees today want to have a sense of purpose at work. Through word of mouth, he learned about the HeartGift Foundation.
HeartGift Austin – our local chapter of the foundation – offers funding, care coordination and medical help for kids with congenital heart disease living in nations where specialized medical care isn’t available. The foundation began its work in Austin, Texas, in July 2000 and now has chapters in Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Louisiana and San Antonio. More than 190 patients from 26 countries have been served by the HeartGift Foundation.
Through HeartGift’s program, the Fornes family volunteered to host Confidence and her mother, Mary, while they were in Austin last year for Confidence’s surgery, a six-week stay. And Don got the entire company involved in the program.
Our team helped raise more than $28,000 to cover the difference between what HeartGift Austin (in partnership with Dell Children’s Medical Center) would pay and the cost of the surgery. We all got the opportunity to spend quality time with Confidence and Mary, too.
When I first met Mary, she hugged me like she would never let go. I’d never encountered a stranger who was so grateful, and who immediately considered me family. Our team held small fundraising events, such as a lemonade stand, to get the community involved. And we had a schedule for employees to take turns bringing dinner to the Fornes’ house, visiting Confidence in the hospital and taking her to and from doctors’ appointments.
Mary received her daughter’s dire diagnosis when Confidence was 2 months old. She spent year after year searching, with increased desperation, for a way to save her child. Though the thought of Confidence undergoing open-heart surgery made Mary understandably anxious, the day of the surgery wasn’t one of fear. Rather, it was one of triumph: the day that literally delivered her child from death's door. Amazingly, 5-year-old Confidence made a full recovery in only six days, so she was able to spend the rest of her visit exploring our city.
It’s easy to feel like our daily workplace tasks don’t have a purpose beyond profit creation. That’s why our experience with Confidence was motivating: We saw the kind of results that the revenue we generate can create. We also witnessed our coworkers being kind, working together toward a greater, common purpose.
And best of all, our company plans to continue to include corporate giving and employee volunteerism as an ongoing objective. It’s not just good for business – it’s good for the world.