Meet Sarah de St. Aubin: #TeamSPS advocate for volunteerism-powered disaster relief

by | Sep 16, 2019

Welcome to #TeamSPS True Blue Stories

#TeamSPS True Blue Stories is a blog series dedicated to highlighting the inspiring stories of SPS employees who bring our values to life in unique and meaningful ways. Sarah de St. Aubin, a volunteerism advocate is our first employee spotlight for this series.

Sarah began her career with SPS Commerce in July 2018. She is a support analyst with our Customer Success department. During her onboarding process, she learned about one of our company values, “Give Back.”

Sarah-de-St-Aubin-Give-Back-advocate-headshotWithin less than a year, Sarah was living this core value, actively promoting and organizing multiple SPS team volunteering trips with the nonprofit, All Hands and Hearts

All Hands and Hearts addresses the immediate and long-term needs of communities impacted by natural disasters. They communicate directly with local leaders and community members, deploying their unique model of engaging volunteers to enable direct impact, helping to build safer, more resilient schools, homes, and infrastructure. 

While their focus on natural disaster relief is global, domestically, All Hands and Hearts also supports North American’s impacted by hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, earthquakes, and other related natural disasters.  

A love for volunteerism, fortified by family

Sarah’s interest in volunteerism was sparked at a young age. In fact, volunteering has been foundational in just about every stage of her life. Sarah grew up as part of a Minnesota family that had active ties to volunteerism and volunteered heavily within the Stillwater community where she lived.  

During high school, she embarked on an experience that shaped her trajectory with volunteerism, an opportunity to help build houses in Mexico during Spring Break as part of a mission trip. This was the first of many trips to follow, often with as many as 60 students working on rebuilding houses. 

Peace Corps: finding her place in the world

After college, Sarah decided to join the Peace Corps and committed to a two-year placement in Ecuador, where she worked in a public high school, focusing on bettering the English program through curriculum development and professional training for the teachers.

It was during this experience that disaster struck via a magnitude 7.8 earthquake which rocked Ecuador’s coast. She served as part of a volunteer crew that supported these communities and saw firsthand the impact volunteers can have. 

“It was an internal struggle –– of wanting to help the country that I was serving in, but knowing I was limited by my place and my role at that time. I knew back then that once I completed my time with the Peace Corps, I wanted to continue this kind of service in a way that had a more direct impact.”

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Sarah did extensive research into other nonprofits and discovered All Hands and Hearts. She applied for all the open volunteer locations that were listed and got accepted to volunteer in Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory:

“I was able to get more engaged with the community than when I was serving with the Peace Corps and give more of my time and energy to the people of Puerto Rico. This experience also allowed me to broaden the Spanish fluency that I gained while serving in Ecuador.”

Bringing All Hearts and Hands to SPS Commerce

Sarah moved back to the United States in July 2018, and increasingly sought to find ways where she could share that experience with volunteering on to others, but on a bigger scale. After coming on board as an employee at SPS Commerce in Minneapolis, her new hire orientation provided a new opportunity to share her passion for volunteering.

A short time later, she shared a presentation to SPS employees about the volunteering opportunities at All Hands and Hearts, recalling:

“Eighteen SPS employees expressed interest and we landed on Puerto Rico as our area of focus to help with Hurricane Maria disaster efforts. Eight of us in total went, and out of those eight, four of us have been back again since January. There are multiple other team members who didn’t sign up initially but  want more information due to the positive buzz that came from our team.”

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Team SPS Gives Back encourages volunteering

Team SPS Gives Back consists of two giving programs for employees to use simultaneously throughout the year, making their positive impacts stretch further: 

“Between the SPS Give Back injection of funds, and the personal fundraising that we did on our internal web page, we raised almost $9,000. 100% of those funds went right back to helping the people of Puerto Rico.”

SPS employees receive a match up to a maximum of $1,000 per employee, per calendar year to any 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

Or, if they are volunteering, they are eligible for a match rate of $25/hour for volunteer hours up to a maximum of 40 hours/$1,000 to any 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization per employee, per calendar year. All donations must be at a minimum of $100 or a contribution of 4 volunteer hours to be eligible for the donation or volunteer contribution match.

Connecting values on a deeper level

Sarah’s daily role as a support analyst for SPS Commerce, puts her into direct contact with our many customers, assisting with solving their problems and helping them to get the best possible experience from our products.

“I enjoy working directly with our customers and troubleshooting. I love the collaboration and the human aspect of it. There is so much of that here at SPS because it is a values-driven company.

Leading the SPS All Hearts and Hands group was so amazing––to be able to share that part of my life with my coworkers, get new people excited about volunteerism and have the company you work for help make that possible. It was pretty incredible.”

Together, we can do more

Corporate volunteerism enhances visibility for both companies and the nonprofits that they support and creates happier, healthier employees.

At SPS Commerce, we actively contribute to our communities and encourage volunteerism and philanthropy among our employees. We believe that generosity and caring for others makes a difference in how we show up for our customers.

Sarah’s spirit, passion, and generosity are beautiful qualities that we covet and support through our Team SPS Give Back program.

 

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Michele Kamenar

Brand Communications Content Strategist at SPS Commerce
Michele Kamenar is a brand communications strategist for the SPS Commerce marketing team. She is responsible for building and maintaining relationships that promote the SPS brand through messaging, creative storytelling and thought leadership content that highlights e-commerce strategies and topics related to retail supply chain optimization.
Michele Kamenar

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