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Home is Where the Hjerte Is

Kelly Salance

You can never run out of things to do in San Francisco.

While there are many things I could do with my children to give them a taste of why this city is so special, one of the best examples so far has been the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus. It’s festive, uplifting, and at the same time, provides tremendous perspective on the gay history of San Francisco and the Castro. It’s all-embracing and sometimes sad. For me, it’s completely San Francisco.

The Gay Men’s Chorus provides the kind of history and perspective that has made SF what it is today: a welcoming, open place that made it possible for my two friends and I to come from Copenhagen nine years ago and find everything we were looking for.

Despite all the things that San Francisco sometimes fails at, San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus is a great example of what it is very good at: conveying the message of love and inclusion.

This month, this special group of men from the chorus will be traveling to the Southern US to spread compassion, activism, and acceptance through music, at a particularly important time in this country when these messages needs to be heard and amplified.

The tour is called the Lavender Pen Tour, named after a purple pen Harvey Milk gifted to George Moscone when he signed a landmark gay civil rights bill into action.

I’m so moved by the mission of the tour that I’ll be joining them at certain stops along the way. After all, it is this spirit of courage, openness, and heart (or “hjerte” in Danish), that reminds me why SF will always be my home.

When I moved here, I didn’t know how my future would play out. All I knew was that when I was in SF, I felt a strong sense that this city was perpetually on the cusp of something beautiful and big. Something larger than myself, or even the company we were building. Ten years later, I still feel that sense of wonder, thanks in part to these beautiful people spreading the message of equality and love.  

-Mikkel Svane, CEO of Zendesk

HeadStart Workshop

Kelly Salance

It was a busy evening in our London office, with 75 young people from The Challenge UK visiting our office for our Fall HeadStart workshop to learn more about Zendesk.

HeadStart London was created in 2014 to bring together industry leaders, charities and young people to bridge the gap between schools and work. Through HeadStart, youth aged 16-18 and still in education are rewarded for their volunteering with employability workshops. A young person only has to complete one hour of volunteering to gain access to the workshops, designed to enhance their interpersonal and employability skill. This group volunteered over 1200 hours between them, demonstrating their commitment to their community as well as their careers aspirations.

We kicked off the evening talking about Zendesk, the Neighbor Foundation and our CSR program in our London office. The students then split into five groups and visited different stations to learn about each department at Zendesk. They met marketing, support, customer experience, sales, workplace and HR. Finally, they heard from one of our employees, Saajan, about his experience at Zendesk and working with prior interns.

It was a powerful evening that left our employees inspired as well as many students eager to apply for an internship at our office for next Spring. We are excited for the Spring internship and helping motivated young people get the head start they need.

Make, Create, Craft and Build - Mini Maker Faire 2017

Kelly Salance

A sunny day and a giant, fire-breathing robot added to a successful second annual Mini Maker Faire in Madison, Wisconsin! Maker Faire is a family friendly showcase of invention, creativity and resourcefulness, and a celebration of the Maker movement. More than 100 makers participated in Madison’s 2017 Faire earlier this month including some of our own Madison Zendesk team. 

We staffed both an indoor and outdoor booth with partner organizations focusing on children’s STEM education. We worked with Sector67 outside as kids made their very own Fidget Spinners from scratch. After selecting a brass or aluminum base, they picked up the hacksaw and cut a 3” strip of metal, then moved over to the drill to cut out a perfect hole in the center. Finally, they pressed a bearing into the hole and filed off any rough edges!

Inside the main expo hall, we worked at the DANEnet booth teaching kids about circuits by having them successfully wire one to ring a bell, light a bulb, and turn on a fan. We also assisted as they made Brushbots - who knew a toothbrush could so easily become a robot?!

"Make, create, craft, recycle, build, think, play and be inspired by celebrating arts, crafts, engineering, food, music, science and technology." And that is exactly what we did! 

Chocolates for a Cause!

Kelly Salance

We have a human-of-Zendesk-being awesome-nominee. Well, that is not officially an award but Senior Engineer, John Bates, exemplifies this and our core cultural values here at Zendesk in his recent volunteer work. John has worked at Zendesk for over 2 years and in his spare time, he is a chocolatier who creates delicious chocolate products in all flavors and varieties, often bring in samples and even helping to demo the process for this team.

This last month, John took his passion and combined it with philanthropy. In the spirit of Easter, John created dark, milk and white chocolate eggs and assorted bonbons. He sold the delicious treats to employees with all profits going to Curry Senior Center. In one short hour, John raised an amazing $700, which was matched by Zendesk all to be donated to Curry.

With the success of the first sale, John graciously decided to host another chocolate sale. In the spirit of the upcoming Mother’s Day, John decided to have all proceeds go to Compass Family Services. Compass works to help families who are homeless or at-risk of becoming homeless into housing stability, emotional and physical health, and economic self-sufficiency. One thing is for sure, we all do love chocolates here at Zendesk, and John’s sweets quickly sold out raising $500 for Compass which was matched for a total of $1,000 donated to the organization.

John’s chocolates are not only delicious, they also build stronger relationships and make our community a better (and sweeter) place!