It’s been said that gratitude starts within our hearts and dovetails into our behavior. With the season of giving upon us, it’s a great time to celebrate the many F5ers around the globe who are turning their gratitude into action by generously lifting up their communities.
Throughout the year, F5 employees around the world are working to make the world a better place by giving the gift of their time. And as 2023 comes to an end, we want to share some of their stories, the causes they’re passionate about, and the different ways they’re giving back to their communities.
This week, we’re shining the spotlight on Lea Louder, a senior cybersecurity manager at F5’s Seattle headquarters. Lea’s story shows what we can accomplish when we incorporate volunteering into our lives, even when circumstances throw us a curve ball.
With a long commitment to volunteering, Lea had been traveling annually to places like Texas and Florida to rebuild houses damaged by hurricanes. Yet when COVID hit and things got locked down, she could no longer make these trips.
Rather than giving up and waiting for COVID to end, Lea decided to find volunteer work closer to home. As it turned out, there was a food bank just 100 yards as the crow flies from her Mill Creek, Wash. home, and Lea decided to walk over there to check it out. Three-and-a-half years later, she has volunteered hundreds of hours of her time for Hope Creek Charitable Foundation, often working six to eight hours a week distributing food to local people in need.
Using the process improvement skills she’s developed in the professional world, Lea has helped the food bank more efficiently distribute its food. She’s even earned the nickname “queen of protein” for her contributions managing the food bank’s dairy, egg, and meat donations. “Volunteering is so rewarding,” she says. “Every time I give back, I get so much more out of it than what I give.”
One of the most rewarding aspects of volunteering at her local food bank, Lea says, is getting to know the people, how grateful so many are and the lengths they go to show it. “One woman would park herself at the produce station, sit on her walker, and put potatoes in plastic bags for hours before picking up her own food,” Lea says. “She wasn’t just receiving services. She also wanted to give back.”
Working at the food bank has underscored for Lea the importance of treating every individual with respect and compassion. “Anyone can be down on their luck,” she says. “So anything we can do to give dignity to our clientele is really important.”
Lea credits F5’s “phenomenal culture” for making her community service possible. “I spent many years working for companies with a time clock mentality. That’s not F5,” she says. “At F5, it’s people first. There’s flexibility and there’s trust. As long as the work gets done, it all works out.”
Even during the upheaval of COVID, Lea was determined to make a difference. Not only did she find another meaningful way to give back, but she was able to apply her professional skills to improve the efficiency of the organization’s food distribution process.
Her advice for others thinking about taking the leap? “Just try something. There are hundreds of opportunities out there. Even if you only have an hour to volunteer once a week or even once a month, a little bit of time goes a long way.”
To learn more about F5 employees are lifting up their communities, visit our Global Good webpage: https://www.f5.com/company/global-good