We Give Back: Solidarity Masks
Vlociter Geraldo Guimarães turned his passion for skydiving into purpose to support families facing unemployment as a result of Covid-19.
During weekends and holidays, I used to skydive, 5 to 10 times a day. I had a lot of fun jumping from airplanes with friends or working as a cameraman in a dropzone located in Boituva city, 68 miles from Sao Paulo, Brazil. My last jump was on March 15, 2020, when there were already 200 confirmed Covid-19 cases and over 1,900 suspected cases in Brazil. By the end of that day, as usual, we grabbed a round of beers after our jumps. But this time around, we felt uneasy. We were uncertain if and how Covid-19 would affect us. None of us could ever imagine what was yet to come.
Three days later, Boituva City Hall announced the immediate closure of the dropzone. We were suddenly unable to practice the sport that gave us pleasure and a sense of freedom. Furthermore, a source of revenue for so many people was suddenly gone, how were these workers who live exclusively on a salary based on skydiving activities going to survive?
With everything shut down, the skydiving facility would make no money, and would not have enough income to keep supporting the workers whose actions helped keep us alive. These workers showed up every day to ensure that we were safe, and relied on this income to ensure their families' livelihood. And suddenly, it all shut down. There were no more skydivers, no more parachutes to pack; everybody was stuck at home without knowing how to pay their bills and feed their families. Every hour, the confirmed Covid-19 cases rose. Companies decided to stop all business travel, and asked all employees to stay at home. And worse, nobody had an idea of when everything would return back to normal.
The next day, I woke up determined to do something and help out the skydiving facility. I couldn not stay still, knowing that those who secured my almost 2,000 soft openings (I'm proud I have never activated my reserve parachute) were facing severe difficulties. I started calling each and every one of them, and created a database with all of the packers and workers information: first and last names, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, and banking information. Once I had collected all of the information, I launched a crowdfunding campaign via my social media channels to share it publicly.
Almost overnight, more than 70 skydivers from Brazil, Argentina, Panama and the US started supporting the campaign, and just one week later, I was able to deposit $100 into each of the employees’ bank accounts. When I started the database, it included 20 dropzone employees, but it quickly grew to 60, as more and more people were helping us spread the word.
Shortly after the campaign launch, a fellow skydiving friend, Eloide Gritti, reached out to help with fundraising to buy basic food and hygiene products to distribute among those workers. I was immediately on-board, and decided to give away protective masks as a thank you for every contribution. The "Solidarity Masks" were born, and they became an incredible tool to incentivize even more donations. So far, we have been able to donate over 700 food boxes and hygiene kits, and were even able to expand and provide resources for unemployed dropzone workers in surrounding neighborhoods.
It has been amazing to see how my initial effort to support a community that has worked so hard to keep me safe has gone viral and motivated others to take actions. We have recently held several raffles for a Squirrel wingsuit donated by my coach, Leo Orsini. After the first raffle, the winners returned it to be raffled off again to collect additional money for those in need. And it paid off! We were able to collect around $10,000 from the raffle, and were able to equally distribute it among our 60 valuable packers and dropzone workers.
For now, we are still facing so much uncertainty and normalcy seems far away. Even when the dropzone reopens, it will take a long time before these workers recover their regular income. Many of them will end up finding other jobs, and I will miss them dearly. Through this experience, it has been immensely gratifying to have helped the dropzone employees, and to really get to know human beings with whom I have coexisted for so long. I now know their full name, where they live, how big their families are, and more.
I’m also incredibly proud of the skydiver community. We all came together from all over the world to show solidarity. And regardless of the amount donated, the real intention of everyone willing to help deeply motivates me to continue. I am very grateful to each and every one of them, hoping that everything gets back to the way it was before...or even better.
Vlocity Value - We Give Back: Giving back is becoming increasingly important and is prioritized in the enterprise technology business community nowadays. Since the founding of the company, one of Vlocity’s core values has been “We Give Back.” This value aligns with those of Salesforce closely, particularly when it comes to Vlociters volunteering their time or corporate charitable donations in the health and human services arena. This post is one in a series of posts sharing stories of our employees, customers, and partners giving back in a wide variety of ways.