One of the biggest days of the year for employee community engagement at Microsoft is United Way of King County’s Day of Caring. Last Friday, September 24, over 10,000 friends, neighbors, colleagues and citizens volunteered in their communities around King County to assist non-profits and individual’s in need. More than half the volunteers were Microsoft employees - participating in over 200 projects at 150 nonprofit organizations, parks, and schools - stacking up a total of 30,000 labor hours in one day. As I worked through the day alongside colleagues, I constantly heard people saying that this was their favorite day of the year and I agreed every time. I’ve never been prouder of the impact we are able to make as employees in our local community.

Volunteers chose which of the 200 community projects to participate in using the United Way volunteering website and I got the opportunity to join over 300 volunteers from various companies and non-profit agencies at the Community Resource Exchange. This event brought together volunteers and service providers to provide support and resources to more than 2,300 homeless individuals and families. I arrived at the venue at 7am, and found many volunteers already there, preparing for the 9am start and serving coffee to our guests, some of whom had started lining up outside from the day before. The CEO from United Way, Jon Fine, and our General Counsel and Co-chair of the United Way Campaign, Brad Smith, kicked off the event, setting the stage for the day and thanking everyone for sharing their time and skills with those less fortunate.

Microsoft Volunteers holding a poster they received after a day’s work at the Beacon Hill International School during the United Way Day of Caring.

An entire wing of Qwest Field had been dedicated to the event – the scale was truly amazing – which provided healthcare, social services, food, clothing, haircuts, foot washing, free e-mail and phone, and many other resources. The event was a great collaborative effort to show people they have not been forgotten. I spent most of the day assisting guests find the services they cared about most, or just having incredible conversations. Personally speaking, it was a humbling experience to realize that a few factors in life, many of which are outside our control, were the only things that separated the volunteers and guests.

The one thing guest and volunteer alike shared that day was perhaps a feeling of hope. Everyone should be proud to be part of this amazing day of unity and action, and the positive impact we continue to have. The turnout for this year’s Day of Caring was one of the biggest ever, and it illustrates that everyone can have a real, positive and tangible impact on their local community.

Kevin Espirito is the manager of employee community engagement at Microsoft.