Over the last two years, it's become clear how important it is for us to be there for one another. The Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, while difficult, has shown us that social work is more important than ever - and not just for humans! We at Mailbutler think that it's important to support our colleagues in any charitable endeavours they might do - in fact, we actively promote it. For that reason, we thought we'd take the time to share some of the wonderful work our team does when they aren't helping to make Mailbutler the best email extension around. Read on to hear about the volunteer work two of our teammates, Trixi and Tiffany, have been involved in over the last two years.
Trixi - Onkomützen
At the beginning of the corona pandemic, masks were in very short supply. To help solve this problem, I started a neighbourhood project in which neighbours donated discarded cotton bed linen, cut it to size and sewed it into makeshift masks. These masks were then distributed in our neighborhood to kindergartens, schools, and nursing homes. Of course, colleagues at Mailbutler were also provided with masks!
Now there are enough masks for everyone, so I'm currently supporting the Onkomützen. This is an association of handicraft friends, who make hats for cancer patients free of charge. These hats can hide any baldness which might occur due to chemotherapy and are a small gesture of solidarity and empathy. We provide hats to individuals as well as clinics and practices.
Cancer can unfortunately can affect anyone - in fact, around half of people are affected by cancer during their lives. Hopefully, Onkomützen can help make the fight against cancer a little more bearable.
Trixi - helping Ukrainian refugees
At the beginning of the war in Ukraine, we offered to host three Ukrainian guests: a 45 year old mother, her 17 year old daughter, and a 17 year old family friend. Not only that, but we were also able to help source and provide items like furniture, clothes, and sports equipment such as yoga mats and bicycles.
To ensure that the girls could continue their studies online, our community was also able to donate laptops, and our family would regular do things like go grocery shopping and have meals with our guests so that we could help guide them through things like German culture and prices.
Although communication could sometimes be difficult (our guests’ English skills sometimes did not allow them to express themselves properly), Google Translate often kept conversations entertaining by making several amusing suggestions for translations!
At the time, the situation regarding Ukrainian refugees was very fluid, with new information regarding procedures and registration requirements changing daily. That was the probably the biggest challenge for us at the beginning. Applying for social assistance, medical insurance, and residence permits, often meant sitting around in offices for hours on end. We also accompanied our guests to doctor's appointments, the bank, networking events, and even helped them make big decisions like choosing a career!
As much as we wanted to help our guests process what they were currently going through, we let them know that, while we would always be there to listen, we would refrain from directly asking them about their experiences. We wanted our guests to feel comfortable, so it was important for us that we not be too intrusive.
They had a lot to share with us, as it turns out, mostly their experiences of family activities, but also of the suffering they had endured. They had videos from the last family snowboarding holiday and photos from the school prom, but they also had videos of long, snaking lines waiting for the train out of Lviv, and photos of bombed out apartment buildings. They had stories from last summer’s vacation, but also about their Nana, who had hid from the fighting above in the basement of a destroyed house. It was truly a unique experience for us.
We were only together, our two families, for six weeks before our guests were able to move into their own apartment. A kindhearted community member was able to make it available for them free of charge to help them get started in their new lives.
Looking back on our time together, I also remember that we had different cultures and world views, and on occasion these differences would clash. Indeed, I would not describe everything about our time together as being easy! But then again, doing the right thing is not always easy, and I'm glad we were able, in our small way, to help out.
Tiffany - Hund sucht Hütte
My story, just like Trixi’s, starts during the COVID pandemic in 2020. Thanks to the new office situation, with everybody on the Mailbutler team working from home, I had the chance to make one of my biggest wishes come true: adopting a dog.
After having done a lot of research on the internet and looking through a thousand pages full of poor dogs longing for new homes, my fiance and I lost our heart to one particular dog: Jagel. We found Jagel on the website of the Austrian-German animal welfare group Hund sucht Hütte (Home for paws), which rescues dogs from Croatia and finds them a new home. It was love at first sight.
Around one month after we had decided to adopt him we finally had the chance to pick him up. From the first second, we knew it was a perfect match. He came running towards us, let us pet him, jumped into the car and went straight to sleep. We felt he knew he was safe now and could relax. It’s often said that as an owner you feel the gratitude of the dog you have adopted, and we can definitely confirm this.
As the pandemic and social distancing continued throughout the year 2020, we had the chance to spend a lot of time exclusively with our new family member. We realised how amazing it was to be able to give this dog the chance at a new life and I thought more and more about how many other dogs were still waiting for adoption.
That made me want to help even more dogs! As it’s not possible for us to take in a second or third dog at the moment (though one day I will!), I decided to try to help in another way. I emailed the animal welfare group we had got Jagel from to ask whether they needed assistance with anything, preferably in online marketing as I worked in that field and could bring some experience.
It didn't even take a day for the chair to reply. She was very happy about my offer and immediately invited me to join the group. I was introduced to all the other helpers (who all work voluntarily in their spare time), and they presented current topics to me and told me about the biggest problems they were facing. From that moment on I was fully involved and excited to help as many dogs as possible!
Before being able to start my social work for Hund sucht Hütte, though, I needed to inform my employer Mailbutler. I was very glad that the CEO Tobias immediately liked the idea and even assured me that Mailbutler wanted to support me in any way it could.
From the start, Mailbutler made it really easy for me to combine my job and my social work. One big benefit is the flexible working hours! Sometimes there are tasks to do for Hund sucht Hütte early in the morning, like for example preparing a social media post. On days like these I can decide to start working for Mailbutler at 9 am and not at 8 am as usual. On the other hand, I could also stop work earlier if I have a phone call planned with the Hund sucht Hütte team in the afternoon. The flexibility is really practical.
Besides the possibility to organise my time freely, I also got the chance to present Hund sucht Hütte in our monthly team meeting. It was great talking to my colleagues about the animal welfare group, raising awareness of the bad situation of Croatian street dogs, and collecting some donations for our current project. All the money that Hund sucht Hütte collects always goes straight to our dogs. It pays for food, medication, surgeries and anything else that our foster moms need to guarantee that the dogs are happy and healthy.
The foster moms
Hund sucht Hütte works together with foster moms in Croatia who regularly find sick or abandoned dogs and take them in temporarily. Most of our foster moms are already well-known in their areas and whenever somebody finds a dog in need, our foster moms are called to help. They take care of the dogs, give them a temporary safe home, provide food and medication, and drive them to the vet if need be. They also send photos and information about the dog that is of interest to potential adopters (such as the approximate age of the dog, its health condition, character, etc.) to our team in Austria and Germany.
The online team
The website team that I am a part of then ensures that the dog is well presented on our website. We upload all the information to our website, and we make sure we have good photos or videos of the dog available online. All our dogs are also promoted on social media, which means that we tell their stories on Facebook and Instagram and share their profiles to groups of people that are interested in adopting a dog from abroad.
The online team has also just started an online fundraising campaign on www.teaming.net/hund, a platform for micro-donations. Once you’ve registered as a ‘teamer’, you support Hund sucht Hütte every month with exactly 1€ (not one cent more). That euro goes directly to our dogs without any deductions or commissions. For the months to come we have a lot of new project ideas planned. One of them is to form collaborations and joint promotions with dog supply brands and other potential partners that share the same target group.
For the actual organisation of the dogs’ adoption, for example when it comes to finding the right adopter for a dog, preparing the adoption contract, and organizing the transport, there is another team: the intermediaries. For the Hund sucht Hütte team, it’s very important that the dog and the adopter fit together well to ensure that they remain a long-term match and that both parties are happy for good. That’s why our team of intermediaries makes a big effort in finding the right adopters: they invest a lot of time getting to know the prospects, they discuss the dog’s character and needs with them, and if possible even check in on their home to make sure it’s suitable for a dog. All that is done to ensure that our dogs find a perfect home.
Volunteering at Hund sucht Hütte is a great complement to my work at Mailbutler. It’s fun to stand up for dogs who otherwise have no one to take care of them. Every time a dog is adopted by a new owner and finds its ‘forever home’ there, it’s a great success for the entire team. It’s really motivating and pushes us to carry on working for more happy adoptions!