The last few months in Australia has seen the turmoil of the bushfire season make its way across communities, both far and near. Many people have been keen to support those who need the help, such as the extra hands to come together and repair physical effects of the elements, as well as rebuild a sense of community and connectedness in any way they can.

In Sydney, our Cisco Meraki team came together to support the regional town of Wingham, located four hours north of Sydney. Working with BlazeAid, a volunteer organisation that works with families and individuals in rural Australia after natural disasters such as fires and floods, the Cisco volunteers set out to rebuild what has been damaged or destroyed.

Over 20 Cisco Meraki volunteers from a range of backgrounds, leadership, sales, channel, marketing, operations, technical support and more set out for the drive to the NSW North Coast on a Wednesday in the last week of February, spending two days in the town.

The team set out to help in any way, with tasks for those that didn’t have the means or ability to get the jobs done on their own. After all, supporting healthy communities is a key focus for Cisco Australia.

We asked the team about their impressions of the give back activity. Here’s what Cisco Meraki’s Partner Account Manager, Sam Lloyd-Green, shared, who led the initiative.

With 6:30am starts and afternoon finishes, key tasks for us included dismantling and re-constructing farm fencing (for livestock management), as well as setting up farm gates, general land clearing and farm ‘odd jobs’, and helping an 80+ year old man install a dishwasher in his home.

Local farmers and the broader Wingham community live on ‘Biripi’ country. We connected as a group and befriended many locals and farmers, connected by the genuine desire to help. The camaraderie and sense of purpose was a standout for many of us, as we felt great pride to be able to support our community – even though we didn’t know them personally until then.

We were split into four different teams, working across various local farms, and yet there are still 450 farms listed in the region who need help and assistance.

A few farmers were very emotional, not only because of what we were able to do or construct on their properties, but that a group that had no connection with them or the region simply showed up, putting our work/life on hold, which meant more than what many may realise.

Personally, I felt a strong connection to the community. Growing up in country NSW, I have an affinity to the rural community and like the rest of Australia and the world, felt somewhat helpless in terms of how we can give back, in addition to monetary donations.

Driven to make an impact

Overall as a group, our aim was simple – to collectively make an impact as a team, play our small part and show our support for a local community in crisis, right here in our own backyard in NSW.

It also served as a great couple days away of team-building and bonding, as well as an opportunity for many of our colleagues to see country life outside of our usual city bubble. Having this opportunity to give back in a meaningful way makes me proud of the impact I can have at work.

This was achievable through Cisco’s ‘Time 2 Give’ program, as well as the global and local support from leadership and overall funding from the employee led ‘Women of Meraki’ group.

I also wanted to provide an avenue for our global Cisco Meraki teams to be involved and to further increase exposure. With that in mind we created limited edition Bushfire Aid Charity T-shirts, with a $20 donation to Cisco Brightfunds (with Cisco matching dollar-for-dollar). 100% of proceeds went towards ‘Australian Red Cross’ ‘Animal Welfare League’ and ‘Foodbank NSW/ACT’.

The logo created was specifically designed to incorporate the bush, the east coast (which has been most effected), our Indigenous Australian colors and the nation as a whole. Originally a sketched design by my wife and I, we were fortunate to get a local Australian graphic designer, Philippa Whitson, to bring this to life. The t-shirts will be seen on the streets globally – right across Asia Pacific, Japan, Greater China, India, Americas, Europe and beyond.

Simply another way to raise funds and awareness, as every little bit helps.

Left: Lincoln Goldsmith (Cisco Meraki APJC Channels & Distribution Director) Middle: Sam Lloyd-Green (Cisco Meraki ANZ Channel Manager) right: Nathan McGregor (Cisco Meraki ANZ Country Manager)

Left: Nathan McGregor (Cisco Meraki ANZ Country Manager – Cisco Meraki) and right: Sam Lloyd-Green (Cisco Meraki Channel Manager)

Cisco Meraki ANZ Volunteers