I was so happy when I heard that the PaperCut Leadership team had decided to sponsor the first ever Illuminate Gala Ball. Not just because the cause was close to my heart – autism support and awareness – but also because it made me feel good to know that the company I worked for was prepared to give to help others.
Illuminate is the brainchild of Paul and Natasha Finamore – they have 2 sons on the autism spectrum and wanted to give back a little to the organisations that had supported them and their kids. With a view to help even more kids and parents, they thought big and pulled off a great fundraising night. There was laughter and tears, dancing and auctions. Over $60,000 was raised to be shared between Autism Spectrum Australia and the Helping Hands Centre .
I have to draw the similarity between Paul and Natasha, and PaperCut’s two founders Chris and Matt – 2 people with a vision and the determination and the work ethic to turn that into something. Paul has had a long business relationship with PaperCut so supporting Paul in this endeavour was like helping out a family member.
PaperCut has grown so much over the last few years but one thing that hasn’t changed over the 4 years that I have been here is the strong sense of identity I feel as part of the PaperCut family. I know that I am working for an employer that really does care for its staff, and endeavours to support them through life’s ups and downs. That mindset is extended to the wider community through the support of various charitable projects aimed at supporting kids - and the belief that all people have something to contribute and nurturing diversity is a worthwhile cause.
PaperCut sponsors students from Sir John Monash Science school to attend the SuperComputing conference and intern; we provide work placements for high school kids who are interested in learning about tech jobs; we take undergraduate interns from Swinburne Uni computer science degree; and we support TLC for Kids who provide activity kits for kids in long term hospital care. With over 100 staff in the Melbourne office alone, there’s always someone collecting for something – be it one of our kids schools, sports clubs or a favourite charity etc. All this helps in providing us with a sense of community.
But it is not just monetary support that is important. One of the overarching themes of Paul and Natasha’s speeches on the night of the Illuminate Gala Ball was one of greater understanding and acceptance of children with autism, and indeed of people with any differences. Parents of kids with autism often find themselves socially isolated and judged because their kids are different. We live today in a very diverse world, so if there is one learning I can urge everyone to make is that every day, everyone is dealing with something. Give what you can to others – a smile, a hello, a wave, a helping hand, and friendly chat – and yes, if you feel you can, please give to whatever charity or group you feel is worthy. We also now live in a world where companies aspire to have diversity in their workforce - it is generally understood that from diversity, we can learn and grow.
So apart from having a great night out with my husband and some work colleagues, I was able to personally contribute to a cause that I believe in and, I must admit, it felt good to be able to give a little. At PaperCut, apart from all the hard work we all do, I see many people giving a little and showing support in many different ways every day. It warms my heart to know that I’m working for an organisation that values this generosity, values diversity and has a strong sense of community.
About the Author:
Maria has worked in the tech industry all her career and has been with PaperCut Software for the last 4 years. Working in the Melbourne marketing team, Maria co-ordinates the trade shows and other events worldwide. Outside of work, Maria devotes her time to her family and can often be found volunteering for a good cause. With one child on the autism spectrum, Maria has first hand experience of the struggles that children with special needs face and is passionate about providing them with the best opportunities to reach their full potential.