Corporate Volunteer: Hylaine
Apparo Program: Community Impact Projects
Interview with: Yash Sharma, Agile, Technology and Strategy Consultant
In 2019, Yash Sharma volunteered through Apparo to support Arts & Science Council in the creation of a strategic technology plan. We knew Arts & Science Council (ASC) was in good hands from the start, and were still amazed by the speed at which Yash accomplished such thorough and well-crafted work.
Remarking on his role as a volunteer, Apparo’s Director of Programs and Pro Bono Partnerships, Lavonne McLean, said, “Yash did a fantastic job volunteering his technology expertise. In a month, he met with 17+ staff members and evaluated their current state of business processes, including pain points, and their vision for the future.”
Toni Freeman, ASC’s Executive VP, Community Engagement, continued the praise. “Yash helped us build a framework to prioritize how to move forward with technology. This makes our challenges less overwhelming. We have a clear way to reach our goals and give our staff what they need to be most productive. This project has been a great gift to us, far exceeding our expectations.”
Thoroughly impressed by Yash, we ask him about his experience from the volunteer side of the Community Impact Project. Here’s what we learned:
How did you first become engaged with Apparo?
“In summer of 2019, Apparo was looking for a volunteer to help ASC by performing a Technology Assessment and build an IT strategy. While working at Hylaine on a client assignment, I learned about this prospect and was excited to participate. This was my first opportunity to contribute my skills and knowledge to help a nonprofit organization that directly makes a positive impact in the lives of people in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Region.
We coordinated the start date with Apparo and met in the office of ASC in uptown Charlotte to kick-start the project. From there I met with over a dozen people from ASC to learn about their challenges, needs and ideas that can help them do their work more effectively. Along with a thorough assessment of their existing technology landscape, these conversations helped me shape an IT strategy and roadmap for the organization.”
What do you enjoy most about volunteering for Apparo?
“The most enjoyable part of volunteering is knowing that I am able to give back to nonprofit organizations using my skills and knowledge acquired during professional IT consulting for organizations. Apparo gives opportunities to IT professionals to impact the community by integrating them with nonprofits in need of such skilled personnel.
It is a wonderful feeling to meet with new people, learn about their challenges and figure out ways to help them overcome those. Giving back to the community using my skills is incredibly healing, joyous and uplifting. In the long-term, my desire is to exclusively work in the nonprofit field, because that aligns with my personal and spiritual goals.”
Tell me one of your favorite experiences as an Apparo volunteer?
“We moved from Chicago to Charlotte for a better quality of life for our family. During the move, I searched for nonprofit organizations where one may find prospects to use their experience and skills. Apparo was the first organization that I came across on LinkedIn. A desire to work with them emerged in me. Fascinating synchronicity occurred and I got that opportunity a few months later.
Lavonne McClean from Apparo had set up the initial kick-off meeting with ASC. Prior to that she provided plenty of background information on this project. This helped me do background research on the nonprofit. I learned that ASC has been helping the local communities for several decades.
Understanding their mission, vision and passion made me eager to help them. On the first day of the project I met with Lavonne and Nicky from Apparo and a few ASC leaders. We talked about ASC’s goals and expectations from this work. Over the next few weeks I met with all ASC leadership to hear about their pain points around technical infrastructure and their opinions on how to make technology help them do their work better.
ASC was planning to move to a new location in a few months and needed a short-term, as well as long-term, IT strategy and roadmap. My work enabled ASC to invest their energy and attention in technology areas that would give them the most bang-for-the-buck and eliminate risks associated with outdated infrastructure.
A few weeks later, during Apparo’s Community Impact Breakfast, a senior ASC leader mentioned to me that they started benefiting from my volunteer work. While working on the project, my only intention had been to do my best so that ASC would get the maximum benefit. Hearing from an ASC leader about the paybacks from this effort was heart-warming and encouraging.
Working on the volunteer project while attending to other commitments required coordination, and Apparo made it very smooth. From initial introductions to weekly checkpoints and project closure, Apparo helped make the volunteer experience joyful and fulfilling. It felt like a dream come true.”
Has volunteering with Apparo benefited you?
“Volunteering with Apparo was incredibly beneficial for me from a personal growth and professional relationship development standpoint. I learned how the nonprofit organization helps the local community by providing advocacy, cultural education programs, cultural planning, fundraising, grant making, public art, workshops and trainings. By helping the nonprofit in my own small way, I was able to contribute to their mission.
Additionally, Apparo introduced me to other volunteers like me during their Community Impact Breakfast. It helped me find a community of like-minded people who wish to improve the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area.
Finally, I am grateful to Adam Boitnott, Hylaine CEO, for giving me an opportunity to work through Apparo on a volunteer assignment. I am looking forward to using this experience to find ways to increase my contribution in the nonprofit sector.”
Yash, we’re so grateful for all you’ve done to support the greater Charlotte area’s nonprofit community. Thank you for your dedication to making an impact.