Paul Happel, Principal Architect of Strategic Engineering at Charles Schwab, joined Apparo as a volunteer in 2020, and has used his tech skills to assist four nonprofits.
In 2020, Paul Happel became involved with Apparo through his friendship with Aaron Bock. He had previously volunteered with other organizations using trade-like skills. Paul had never done IT based volunteering outside of his local church community. He found Apparo’s model to be unique, and showed interest in joining a project with us.
After hearing about several projects, he had his first volunteer experience with a community impact project for Young Black Leadership Alliance (YBLA). The volunteer team was tasked with selecting a donor software. “It was interesting, because I didn’t have any experience in donor management products. It was fun to learn. I was familiar with vendor evaluation since I do that a lot in my role, and I found it enjoyable to use my skills to help,” Paul shared.
Following the completion of the YBLA project, Paul volunteered to help with Memory and Movement’s tech assessment and business plan through the G.A.I.N. program. They offered technical guidance through this plan to help Memory and Movement operate more efficiently and better serve their mission. Paul shared that this is where he “started to see the breadth and expertise of his fellow Apparo volunteers for another meaningful nonprofit.”
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In 2021, Paul volunteered to deliver a tech plan and transition Children’s Theatre of Charlotte to Google Workspace. “At the time, Paul was a Google employee, and he gave us valuable insights on the Google Workspace platform. This helped us transition workflows from the Microsoft environment,” Rob Odom from Children’s Theatre shared. Paul found the work meaningful, and because his office was across the street he was able to see their mission at work. “Paul’s suggestions were always based on what our organization could bear not just with our budget, but our small staff. His expertise helped us solve our challenges. It meant a lot to us that he volunteered his time because he believed our mission was worth supporting,” Nao Tsurumaki shared how Paul was able to tailor his suggestions to fit their needs.
Currently, Paul is working as a G.A.I.N. volunteer mentor for Changed Choices. They are completing a tech plan and assessment, which Paul has done on several other occasions. “When I went out to meet them for the first time, Katie and the group, I asked them all their problems and made a list. I found the tech plan from Memory and Movement, cleared it all out, and filled it in with their goals. We have been working through them with great Apparo management and more amazing technical volunteers. We are now close to wrapping up.” Katie Gaunter of Changed Choices expressed her appreciation of Paul by saying, “Paul provided exceptional service and care during our initial assessments, and we are very grateful for his expertise and guidance.”
Apparo’s program manager, Allison Grant, has worked with Paul several times. “I have had the privilege of working with Paul on three separate projects, serving three different nonprofits. Paul’s passion to make a difference in our community is so evident in his work. He is always willing to go above and beyond, providing the necessary skills and expertise needed to make the project a success. I am grateful for Paul and all the hours he has contributed to amplify the impact of other nonprofit organizations,” she shared.
“Volunteering with Apparo allows me to use my own knowledge and tech skills to help others,” Paul said. When asked if he would recommend his skilled volunteering to his colleagues he said, “Yes. There is a sense of camaraderie, community, and collaboration when working with the nonprofits and the other volunteers that makes is so rewarding.”
Interested in using your skills to make a difference like Paul has in our community? Volunteer.