WE-San Francisco Adopts Two La Casa de las Madres Families

Posted on December 22, 2011 by Comments Off

Jessie Wong, Sr. Account Executive, WE-San Francisco

The holiday spirit continued at Waggener Edstrom’s SFO office in December as employees participated in a mini holiday party with a BIG purpose. The focus was to wrap WE gifts that employees hand-selected for two families at La Casa de las Madres; California’s first (and the nation’s second) shelter dedicated to women and children escaping domestic violence.

The families, two moms and six children, had requested basic household items including a sheet set and toaster, shoes, a doll and makeup, as well as V-neck shirts and skinny jeans for fashion conscious boys ages nine and 10. In addition to gift giving, the office made a $1,000 cash donation to help La Casa de las Madres give survivors of domestic violence the tools to transform their lives.

A dynamic coalition of Bay Area women founded La Casa de las Madres in 1976 and chose its name, The Home of the Mothers, to honor the memory of one of their mothers; a woman brutally murdered by her partner in front of her 14-year-old daughter. The founders also sought to convey the safety, nurturing, and unconditional acceptance within La Casa’s doors.

Today La Casa provides expert intervention and prevention services to 15,000 individuals each year.  The organization strives to educate, promote awareness, and change the community’s perceptions of domestic violence and its survivors, reaching over 50,000 community members annually through our education and outreach activities. La Casa offers an essential safety net for local women, teens, and children: a refuge, an advocate, a strong voice against domestic violence.

What a Difference a Moustache Can Make!

Posted on December 16, 2011 by 1 Comment

As part of the global #Movember campaign WE teams grew staches and raised more than $6,000.

Movember is a moustache growing charity event held during November each year that raises funds and awareness for men’s health. Once registered at www.movember.com, “Mo Bros” start clean shaven and for the rest of the month shape, grow and groom a moustache. Thus becoming walking billboards by prompting conversation around the often ignored issue of men’s health and raising funds to fight cancer.

Three WE teams competed against each other to receive an extra $500 donation from the WE Citizenship team to benefit the charities supported by their team.

Who won? Well, all of the mustache growing “musketeers” are winners for contributing to such an important cause, but Team EMEA won the $500 donation from WE Citizenship. Here are the teams:

WE-Movember Team EMEA

Raised $2, 935 (incl. WE’s $500) for The Prostate Cancer Charity and The Institute of Cancer Research



WE- Movember Team USA

Raised $1, 693 for Prostate Cancer Foundation and LIVESTRONG, The Lance Armstrong Foundation



WE-Movember Team APAC

Raised $1,389 for Prostate Cancer Foundation and LIVESTRONG, The Lance Armstrong Foundation






In addition, several individual employees grew facial hair for this important cause – check out this proud display of staches in our WE Portland office.

P.S.:  Did you know that 1 in 6 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime? (More facts about men’s health here.

Celebrate Giving

Posted on December 9, 2011 by 2 Comments

Tis the season to be jolly and to GIVE!

Waggener Edstrom Worldwide (WE) is thrilled to kick off its 2011 Holiday Giving Campaign. Every year, WE celebrates the season by sharing gifts with the communities in which it does business. WE has invited its employees this year to select one of five nonprofit organizations from around the world that they’d like WE to make a donation to on their behalf. Each choice represents a $20 donation, and WE will make up to $10,000 in total gifts.

The organizations WE is supporting this year share a common mission to combat hunger. They provide disadvantaged men, women and children with short-term food assistance and long-term tools and skills that can change lives. Just as the ancient Chinese proverb says, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” The organizations WE is supporting during its 2011 Holiday Giving Campaign include:
Digital Green
Mercy Corps

WE is focusing this year’s gifts on combatting hunger for a number of reasons, not the least of which is this startling statistic: Tonight, one in seven people in the world will go to bed hungry.

According to the World Food Programme, hunger is the world’s No. 1 health risk, killing more people than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. Hunger impacts both individuals and communities, imposing crushing economic burdens. Economists estimate that every child whose physical and mental development is stunted by hunger and malnutrition stands to lose 5 percent to 10 percent in lifetime earnings.

WE has chosen to support organizations that combat hunger through both short- and long-term assistance so that people may pull themselves out of hunger’s vicious cycle. These organizations span the globe and serve communities where WE employees live and work. Also, as a signatory of the United Nations Global Compact, WE supports the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, one of which is to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.

In addition to these gifts, as part of the 2011 Holiday Giving Campaign, WE employees will volunteer this month at the Oregon Food Bank in Portland and the YWCA Women’s Shelter in Seattle, as well as collect nonperishable food items for these organizations’ food pantries. Since late November, WE employees from other offices including London, San Francisco, Singapore and more have also volunteered their time with nonprofit organizations that combat hunger.

We’ll keep you posted on how the campaign shakes out. In the meantime, we’d love to hear from you: How are you giving back this season?

A Very ThankFULL Bag! WE-Bay Area Assembles Holiday Dinner-in-a-Bag for 250 Seniors

Posted on December 8, 2011 by Comments Off

Jessie Wong, Sr. Account Executive, WE-San Francisco

Waggener Edstrom’s San Francisco office kicked off their holiday giving by bagging 250 Thanksgiving dinners for Groceries for Seniors at Old Saint Mary’s Cathedral as part of WE’s Make a Difference Day (WMDD) program. A team of 10 volunteers - Lisa Allen, Kelsey Grossman, Nadine Haija, Adrienne Refsgaard, Mallory Richards, Jean-Louis Robadey, Oona Rokyta, Darlene Scheurich, Monique Singh and Jessie Wong –  spent the morning of November 21 packing grocery bags to the brim.

Everything but the BIRD

What went into a bag? 6-8 potatoes, 1 bag rice, 1 can peas, 1 can cranberry sauce, 2 gigantic onions (the size of extra-large grapefruit!), 8 oranges, grapes, 1 head lettuce, 6-8 carrots, 2-3 sweet potatoes, 2 cans corn, 1 can Chinese beans, 2-3 bell peppers, 1 celery head, 2 bread bags, 40 oz. can green tea, misc. fruits and veggies, and for dessert…1 package Girl Scout cookies. [ The bird was delivered seperately].

How did you STUFF it?

“It’s like trying to fit ten pounds of potatoes into a five pound bag!” commented one of our volunteers. Yep, it wasn’t always easy, but it was done with a collective smile. In the end, as if by a miracle (and a lot of shaking, settling and finagling), all the “stuffing” for each meal fit into a single grocery bag (double bagged for the heavy load).

Home delivery

The groceries were loaded up into a van, which set out to hand-deliver the bags and chickens to recipients that very morning. Every day, the organization utilizes volunteers to pack up and deliver free groceries to seniors in need. We all felt grateful to be able to donate our time and energy to such an important cause, particularly at this time of year.

In addition to volunteering their time, the team also delivered a $500 check to Groceries for Seniors.

About Groceries for Seniors

Operating out of the donated basement space in Old Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Groceries for Seniors provides food that seniors need to stay healthy and remain living independently in the community. The program provides nearly 1,200 seniors with a free bag of groceries every week. In a city that is home to more than 27,000 seniors with income below the federal poverty line, where seniors are often forced to choose between purchasing food or medicine, the organization is truly making a difference in each recipient’s lives. The organization operates with just one staff member and a roster of dedicated volunteers, rescuing food that would have been thrown away by local supermarkets, and receives other food items from the San Francisco Food Bank.

Old Saint Mary’s is located at the intersection of Chinatown and the financial district, was built in 1854 as the first cathedral of the Archdiocese of San Francisco. Old St. Mary’s survived the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, only to be gutted a day later by the fires started by the earthquake. The fires were so hot that they melted the church bells and marble altar.

We look forward to our office’s next WDMM and hope that your holiday season is full of cheerful events and giving spirits!




WE Employees Report on Behalf of Net Impact: Behind the Scenes at Net Impact 2011

Posted on November 23, 2011 by Comments Off

Holly Roe, Account Coordinator (and Rhian Rotz, Manager WE Citizenship)

This year, Waggener Edstrom Worldwide (WE) partnered with Net Impact, a nonprofit organization that inspires a new generation of leaders to use their careers to tackle the world’s toughest problems, to support its annual conference in Portland, Ore., with pro-bono services. Net Impact believes it’s possible to make a net impact that benefits not just the bottom line but people and planet too. I found this truly inspiring and wanted to share some wisdom that resonated with me throughout the conference: 

1)      Occupy Wall Street From the Inside: In a keynote kicking off the conference, Liz Maw, executive director of Net Impact, challenged everyone to “occupy Wall Street from the inside” by leveraging their careers to drive real change.

2)      Overcome Cynicism: Lord Hastings, KPMG‘s global head of Citizenship and Diversity, shared that the single most effective way to change the world is overcoming cynicism — not a product or a business model, but by changing an attitude.

3)      Take the First Step: Speaker Vail Horton, CEO of Keen Mobility and chairman of Incight Foundation, was born with improper bone growth in his arms and without legs but lives a life defined by his passion to make the world a better place — not his disability. He stressed the importance of taking the first step and “staying pleasantly persistent” no matter the task.

Elisia Choi, Amy Dunn, Rachel Coussens, Anna Friedges and I had the privilege of representing WE as volunteer reporters at the conference, covering sessions on topics ranging from sustainability and microfinance to healthcare reform. As communications professionals, it isn’t every day that we receive a press badge (which was definitely an exciting perk) and asked to report stories, but it definitely made for a unique opportunity and allowed us to experience our jobs from the other side of our industry. This experience reinforced the fact that although anyone has the ability to tell a story, by truly listening to your audience and understanding the reason for telling the story, we can help others strengthen their business in new and creative ways. Read our coverage here.

My colleagues Erica Hubby and Katy Hagert, members of the WE Studio D® and Insight & Analytics teams, also brought their expertise to bear after the conference. They delivered a report to Net Impact designed to provide analysis of the key influencers, online discussions and themes about the Net Impact conference using some of the coolest tools and services that we offer. Check it out!  

Being able to take a step back from my day-to-day activities and apply my professional skills to benefit a nonprofit was truly rewarding. I look forward to participating in similar events in the future.

A Culinary Field Trip: WE-UK Team Teaches Inner-City Kids How to Cook

Posted on November 20, 2011 by 2 Comments

Kristi Lewandowski, Senior Account Executive and Sam Whitby, UK Operations Manager

On Nov. 11, several WE-UK employees volunteered with Kids Company, a London-based charity that supports vulnerable inner-city children, to spend the day cooking with children in a local classroom. The goal of the day was to interact and teach kids in Grade 1 (5-6 year olds) how to cook. The day was broken into two sessions (30+ kids each) where the staff cooked and spent time with one classroom of kids in the morning and a second set of kids in the afternoon.

During the sessions we helped teach the kids how to make three different recipes. The first was the London favorite Banoffee Pie, where the kids learned skills like safe chopping, whisking cream and smashing cookies to make pie crust. The second recipe was a more exotic Moroccan Couscous, where the kids got to experience different spices, learn another chopping skill and how to measure ingredients. The last recipe really engaged everyone, by making smoothies that were blended using the pedal power of a bicycle. In order to properly blend the smoothies the kids had to nominate three adults to take turn pedaling the bike before they could enjoy the smoothies.

It was a great experience for the kids and the WE staff. While kids learned basic cooking skills, the staff was able to utilize skills not used in our everyday jobs. From bike riding abilities, to playing games with the children, to the most difficult task of answering the really tough questions only kids can ask. The biggest takeaway was that when working with someone new, be it a client, influential or kids, we need to adjust our communication approach and find commonalities. Which could be as simple as pretty headbands or a love of kittens.

Kids Company provides practical, emotional and educational support to vulnerable inner-city children. Their services reach 14,000 children across London, including the most deprived and at risk whose parents are unable to care for them due to their own practical and emotional challenges. Kids Company provides a safe, caring, family environment where support is tailored to the needs of each individual. Their services and support empower children who have experienced enormous challenges to lead positive and fulfilling lives. Despite great difficulties, the children they work with are hugely courageous and embrace the support they offer.




Taking steps to end cancer: I finished my first marathon with help from my friends!

Posted on November 18, 2011 by Comments Off

Jessica Hastings, Account Executive, WE Portland

As I wrote in my October Blog post; when I started training, the goal of finishing my first marathon seemed impossible. Even after having completed the training, I was struck at the Top of the Rock just a couple of days before the race by the incredible distance I’d be running. Still, with a lot of help and encouragement on the way, I managed to do it, finishing all 26.2 miles of the ING NYC Marathon with my sister and father on behalf of Fred’s Team on November 6 with a time of 5:26:37.

As if running a marathon weren’t enough of a challenge, I gained entry by signing up to raise $5,000 in support of pioneering cancer research with Fred’s Team, a charity affiliated with Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in New York. After giving them my credit card number so they could charge the balance of my goal if I don’t raise all of the funds by November 21, I was able to officially register for the Marathon.

I have put a lot of time and emotional energy into both the training and fundraising since then. There were many times, particularly in the middle of my longer training runs, when I would wonder what I was thinking. I discovered in these moments, however, that running’s all about the mental game. Sure, you have a lot of physical challenges, but those are easily put to rest at any moment by walking or hopping on a bus. You keep going because you need to reach the goals you set for yourself.

And now, I know I CAN run a marathon. Having achieved this year’s goal of finishing, I am beginning to think about what’s next. I caught “the bug” and am trying to determine when I’ll run my next marathon and what goal would be just enough of a stretch. That will help me set my goals for races at more sane distances along the way, and the goals collectively will help keep me heading out the door, even very early on cold, rainy mornings.

I transitioned from our WE Insights & Analytics team to a WE Microsoft account team in August, giving me a whole new set of personal goals and insecurities to think about during my longest training runs. I discovered that, at least for me, the mental game of running is a lot like work. You put one step in front of the other, hoping to gradually be able to do so faster and better, setting milestones along the way for what turns out to be a greater journey with no single finish line.

Most importantly, though I’m ultimately the one in control of keeping those feet moving, I can’t do it without the support of family, friends and others along the way (thank YOU!). I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we have a lot of runners here at WE – we are mentally disciplined, goal-oriented people with inner strength but also the humility and intelligence required to come together in support of both individual and collective goals. WE has been incredibly supportive of my running and fundraising goals so far, and I look forward to seeing one more round of support as I race to my fundraising deadline on November 21.

With just over $1,000 left to raise in a few short days, it will truly take a village but every donation counts – even $5! The donations mean a lot to me personally, as I not only am extremely proud of the fact that I finished a marathon and am not sure I would have made it without the commitment to the charity this year, but MSKCC’s research also saved the life of a close friend of mine this year, and helps to bring us closer to a world without cancer – a disease that has affected a large number of my friends and family members over time, most recently a loved one who was diagnosed just days before the marathon.

Going the extra mile for a cause….by night, day, road or boat

Posted on November 15, 2011 by Comments Off

In response to Waggener Edstrom employees’ active participation in races for charities, WE supports employees’ fundraising efforts, favorite causes and healthy lifestyles with athletic sponsorships. Following are examples of employees and causes who’ve benefited from the program in the fight against cancer.

WE’s Petrina Marks organized a team of 10 employees to walk 20 miles in the London Night Hike. A massive accomplishment for all who participated! The walk involved stops at landmarks including City Hall, the Royal Institute of British Architects and Maggie’s Cancer Centres; the event’s benefiting cause.

Maggie’s Cancer Centres empowers people to live with, through and beyond cancer by bringing together professional help, communities of support and building design to create exceptional centres for care.


A team of 34 employees, family members and friends registered to hit the downtown Portland roads early in the morning for the Race for the Cure to help Susan G. Komen save lives, empower people, ensure quality care for all and energize science to find the cures.

In addition, Jessica Polley (left in the picture) participated in the Eugene (Ore.) race at Autzen stadium. “Supporting Susan G. Komen is personal, as I lost my mom to the disease when I was just a teen” Jessica shared. “To think how far research has come in just the last decade, and how that has impacted detection, treatment and survival rates, is truly remarkable.”

WE paddlers combined fun on the water and camaraderie to raise funds for an important cause. The team of 16, led by WE’s Sandi Glasow (pictured front row, in the middle) a long-time dragon boat competitor and cancer survivor, competed in the Celebrating Life! Dragon Boat Festival  on Lake Washington, Seattle.

The event benefits Team Survivor Northwest to help women in their cancer recovery through empowering programs of physical activity and health education.

My Journey to the One Young World Summit Part 3

Posted on November 3, 2011 by Comments Off

Guest Post by Zamafuze Ngcobo – South African delegate and student at the University of Johannesburg. WE was honored to sponsor Zama’s attendance to the annual One Young World (OYW) Summit, Switzerland (Sept. 1-4, 2011). This blog post is the summary and final in the series about Zama’s journey to the OYW summit.

It has been almost five months since WE Johannesburg made the decision to sponsor me to attend the OYW summit held in Zurich a week ago. On August 31st, the big day finally arrived and I flew out to Zurich, Switzerland.

On my first day in Zurich I had to pinch myself several times to remind myself that this was really happening. The calibre of young people and leaders that I found myself amongst was incredible. From all walks of life each of them was passionate and driven, from as young as fifteen years of age to twenty seven. Between the several plenary sessions during the day and the night life the city had to offer, there was just no way that I could afford to waste time on sleep. I wanted to get to know each person, hear their stories and to share in their valuable knowledge and experiences.  It almost felt like I was visiting over 150 countries in three days through the stories of 1200 young leaders from every corner of the world.

Each day was dedicated to at least three of the following resolutions, namely: global health, global business, environment, leadership, interfaith dialogue and media with informative plenary sessions. Counselled by world leaders such as Sir Bob Geldof, James Chau, Fatima Bhutto and HRH Crown Princess of Norway, there was so much to learn and meditate upon.

My personal favourites included Doug Richards on his “School for startups”, Mark Lovell on CSR and Fatima Bhutto who spoke candidly on women and gender issues. There were so many key takeaways from each of these speakers. I was moved to tears when Doug Richards introduced us to some of the people who had changed their lives by starting small businesses. This made me think of the many young people in South Africa who are despondent, unemployed and spend every day kicking the curb. Hearing the real stories that Richards presented made me realise that we cannot change people no matter how hard our efforts – people change themselves only when they want to. I guess the trick is: we need the type of leadership that does not force people to just do things but rather inspires them to WANT to change their lives; a challenge in South Africa, where some still feel entitled and constantly wait for government to save them.

Another session that etched a mark in my heart was centred on global dignity, where we each were posed with this question; “What have you done and what will you do for the next year to strengthen someone’s dignity?” The stories that came out of this question were moving and made me realise that what may not be important to me, may actually mean the world to someone else. Simple things like providing sanitary towels to women in rural communities or even a word of encouragement to a stranger.

A theme that seemed to be threaded throughout the summit was the role of CSR and its relevance and legitimacy in contemporary society. The views that came out of the various discussions throughout the summit were very critical of this term, which caught my attention as my dissertation topic for this year is focused on positively encouraging CSR initiatives by business, particularly in the fight against HIV/Aids in South Africa. This forced me to step back and critically challenge the efficacy and legitimate function of CSR programmes within business. Mark Lovell spoke unequivocally on this topic and shared insights on how the social and commercial purposes of business should not be mutually exclusive but rather be integrated into operations as both a profit and a cost. I have been since making changes to my dissertation after this insightful talk.

On the last day of the summit, my nerves shot through the roof with excitement and anticipation for the speech that I had been nominated to deliver on a resolution for Global Health. In a lot of ways, I was more privileged than most to have a great mentor in attendance:  WE General Manager, Marcus Sorour. When I was overwhelmed and anxious, Marcus was there to put things in to perspective for me. And so by the time I had to deliver my resolution on Global Health, I had the confidence and mind-set that I needed to stand in front of over 1200 young leaders. Frightening indeed!

Extending from the CSR debate and also based on the research that I am currently undertaking at university, the resolution that I proposed was a challenge to corporates to start investing in the health of the people living within the environments where they operate. This includes workers, their families and immediate communities – an initiative that has already been used by companies such as Anglo-American and BHP Billiton; who provide free HIV/Aids treatment to their workers and families in South Africa.

In between the summit sessions, there was never a dull moment; I had the opportunity to meet and connect with so many young bright minds. However, one of the biggest actions that I took from this experience came from the Grameen Creative Lab Founder Hans Reitz who spoke on social innovation. His key points that I have now made a part of my own personal manifesto were; “plan for financial sustainability, be excellent, be innovative, don’t do it alone, measure your results and do it with joy”.  

Although it only lasted three days, my experience at One Young World has been a tipping point in my life.  It has inspired me to come back home and answer two questions; how can we motivate our people to WANT to change their lives for the better and what business model can I work on that will solve community problems. It’s a work in progress. I am thankful to WE Johannesburg for influencing and enabling me with the invaluable tools and knowledge that I need to get up, start something and impact my community.

Good Deeds: The Impact was YOU!

Posted on October 31, 2011 by Comments Off

Good Deeds Logo

Earlier this month, Waggener Edstrom Worldwide (WE) kicked off its second giving campaign — Good Deeds — with Jolkona. As a corporate sponsor, WE agreed to match up to $5,000 of individual donors’ contributions to projects showcased on the Jolkona website. We were thrilled when we met our goal of raising $10,000 for Jolkona in just two weeks. We were also nothing short of blown away when we saw the resulting impact, the impact that YOU created.

It just goes to show the substantial power of good deeds — large and small — for both individuals and the community. It’s also exemplifies why WE has deepened its partnership with Jolkona over the past year. In addition to sponsoring Good Deeds, last year WE sponsored the MatchED giving campaign, during which time WE raised $10,000 for Jolkona by matching contributions to education-related projects on its website. A few ways Jolkona recipients benefitted from funds raised include tutoring provided to students in Guatemala, books supplied to schools in Tibet, scholarships given in Zambia, and technology tools provided to U.S. schools. In addition, this summer WE facilitated an ideation session with Jolkona leaders, and this fall WE is organizing volunteering opportunities for agency employees with Seattle-based nonprofit organizations that Jolkona supports.

You can see a full list of the campaign’s impact below. Thank you for supporting these worthy projects and for making such a significant impact in the world with your good deeds!

2 women received life skills class in USA
2 months of primary education provided in Uganda
4 stoves provided in Nepal
400 trees planted in India
6 students attended a night class in the tsunami-affect area of Japan
2 girls saved from honor killing in Iraq
8 orphans received clothes in Iraq
6 women received farming training in Sudan
2 girls received 1 year of education in Afghanistan
2 businesses showcase opportunity provided in USA
2 mothers and newborn received nutritional support in India
2 months of primary education provided in Uganda
2 women received access to clothes in USA
6 weeks of food provided in Iraq
100 trees planted in Ethiopia
6 acres of rainforest conserved in Tanzania
2 young women trained in Nepal
2 stories sponsored in United States
12 months of secondary education provided in Uganda
2 months of support provided to a student in Rwanda
4 jobs created in India
2 women received training in bio-intensive farming in Kenya
2 students received support for research project in USA
12 months of computer training provided in Guatemala
2 children sponsored in Bangladesh
2 orphans received education in Kenya
8 children saved from diarrhea in India
6 school girls received uniforms in Liberia
2 headsets provided to a classroom in USA
2 rural Tibetan girls attended day school in China
2 months of HIV treatment provided in Kenya
2 Above & Beyond awards given to homeless person in USA
160 children received 1 week of meal each in Uganda
2 hygiene kits provided in Haiti
2 homes fumigated in Bolivia
2 family toilets provided in Nepal
2 classes received notebooks in United States
2 soccer camps participant supported in United States
4 women trained in bio-intensive farming in Kenya
2 women trained in Pakistan
4 Jolkona projects added

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