Winston Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give”.

Giving is a gesture that extends beyond the tangible impact of the work itself; it’s about the joy in knowing that one’s efforts, no matter how small, contribute to the well-being of others. As someone who has served with the Raleigh Inter-Faith Food Shuttle for many years, I certainly know this feeling to be true.

This sense of fulfillment is something that everyone should have the opportunity to experience, including those of us who find ourselves behind a laptop most days.

It was with resounding enthusiasm that our team launched a program this year called The Vertical IQ Cares Program (VIQcares), an employee-led initiative to encourage action through the giving of our time, talent, and treasure to support the causes that each of us cares about. I had the opportunity to advise the inaugural VIQcares committee including group leader Alex Bangs, and members Drake Branson, James Bryant, and Brin Sullivan.

Throughout the year, our committee allocated funds to some incredibly worthy causes. Vertical IQ employees had the opportunity to submit donation requests to the VIQcares committee for organizations that are personally meaningful to them. As a result, not only were we able to support a wide array of charities, but we also were able to see the hearts of our coworkers.

“One of the best things about serving on the VIQcares team is the connection we build with our teammates,” Drake shared with me. “We hear their stories and see what they’re passionate about — what causes are close to their hearts. It’s really special to partner with our teammates in support of wonderful organizations!”


In addition to supporting employee-sponsored charities, Vertical IQ and the VIQcares team also were able to act upon time-sensitive issues such as natural disasters. The Mississippi tornado outbreak in March, the Hawaii fires and Vermont floods in July, as well as general hurricane relief were among the causes that benefited from the VIQcares Rapid Response Fund.

In addition to contributions to these causes throughout the year, Vertical IQ has made it a tradition to participate in Giving Tuesday, often described as a global day of giving held each year on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. This year, our employees voted for the causes they wanted to support, and among them were the Alzheimer’s Association, Habitat for Humanity, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), and St Judes Children’s Research Hospital.

Though monetary donations are incredibly important for these organizations to do their work, gifts of time also are a crucial part of giving. The VIQcares program provides every employee paid time off to dedicate to volunteering, which many of our staff took advantage of this year. Pictured below are some of our employees serving their communities over the past year.

Our Austin-based research team, (pictured left to right, Linnea Kirgan, James Bryant, and Alex Bangs) helped to serve approximately 250 lunches at Caritas Austin whose mission is to end homelessness in Austin, Texas.

Our president, David Buffaloe, his wife, Ellen, and son, Marshall, participated in the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) Walk. With the help of VIQcares, they also were able to sponsor a table at JDRF’s Gala in honor of Marshall, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2021. The Buffaloe family served as volunteers at the gala, which raised over $1.4 million to find a cure.

Our customer success manager, Ruth Keyes, and her family served in the Dominican Republic with Kids Alive by providing building maintenance, and donating shoes, clothes, hygiene products, medical, and first aid equipment.

Our customer success manager, Anne Elizabeth Harrell, and her son, Matthew, volunteered at the Salvation Army Angel Tree Gift Distribution Center. She and Matthew put together 225 angel bags to benefit families of Wake County.

Our director of product, Drake Branson, and his wife, Julz, served local communities in South Asia.

Our vp of customer success, Courtney Farfour, played in the annual Beach Jam volleyball tournament to support the Ransford S. Jones Scholarship Fund.

Our integrated marketing manager, Brin Sullivan, and her mom volunteered with the Red Cross at the Greater Charlotte Heart Walk.

As we look back on the contributions the VIQcares program and the Vertical IQ team have made over the past year, it’s clear that every effort makes an impact. I feel incredibly grateful to work at a company where community service is ingrained in our culture, and it’s inspiring to witness employees eagerly and excitedly giving back. Here’s to continuing our commitment to collective goodwill and positive change, both in and out of the office, in 2024.

Learn more about the organizations the VIQcares program has supported this year through our employee-sponsored charities:

Eden Village Wilmington

Inter-Faith Food Shuttle

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF)

Kids Alive International – Christ the King Church in Newton, State

National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS)

Raleigh Swimming Association

Refugee Hope Partners

The Back Pack Buddies Program through Garner Mid-Day Rotary Club

The Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes

The Ransford S. Jones UNCW Scholarship Fund

The United Service Organizations

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