Editor’s Note: Broadcom Community Heroes recognizes civic engagement and volunteerism by Broadcom employees around the globe, who may nominate themselves or their colleagues for recognition under guidelines set forth by Broadcom Foundation. The Community Engagement Committee honors these employees with a $500 gift in their honor from a list of qualifying charities. In this series on the blog, we’ll profile each Community Hero to share stories about their interests and work benefiting their communities around the world.
Syd Logan, Engineer, Principal – Software Systems, San Diego, Calif., has been a dedicated volunteer with Thousand Smiles Foundation since 1995, helping underprivileged children and their families register for free maxillofacial surgeries and dental work to correct cleft lips and palates. In 2003, Syd developed an Internet-based patient and volunteer tracking system for the organization, and he serves as a board member and adviser to the foundation on issues related to digital patient records and volunteer registration.
What inspired you to get involved with your current charity?
I grew up in a family that didn’t do any volunteer work. We were busy enough just keeping our own heads above water. My high school friend’s father was one of the founders of Thousand Smiles, an organization that provides care for underprivileged families who suffer from maxillofacial deformities and lack of dental care. I was asked back in the ‘90s if I wanted to go down and help with data entry. At the time, the organization was using a crude database to track volunteers. Since that experience, it has been my mission to improve and extend that system to better meet the needs of the volunteers we support. I feel very fortunate to have a career in which I essentially play with technology for a living. It’s great to be able to give back.
What surprised you most about your work with the group?
I recall at one point having a hard time convincing our board of directors to abandon sending out postal mail registration forms, in favor of using newer technology, like e-mail and web. Now, our volunteers are much more demanding when it comes to incorporating technology into the functioning of the clinics we run. It keeps me on my toes and busy writing lots of custom code for the organization.
What do you most look forward to when working with the group?
Solving problems and being a leader. Being in a volunteer organization like this gives me opportunities to take ownership of problems and see them through to completion.
Where do you see the greatest impact in the community from the work this group is doing?
No country is immune to cleft palette deformities. While the incidence rate in Mexico is not much different than in the U.S., the need for organizations like ours is what separates us. We fill the need and the kids benefit. We don’t just fix the immediate problem either; we provide many more services such as braces and continuing dental care.
What would you like to accomplish with your work next year?
I’m currently coding an android app that will replace the paper and desktop computers that we use to register kids. I want to have that up and running by Q4 in 2015. After that, I want to evolve the system to completely replace the use of paper charts, which would have major implications for the care we give our kids.
Share with us a favorite story about your work. What made the experience so rewarding?
While most of my work happens in the board room or from my den at home as I write code and maintain systems, I had the opportunity to learn how to sterilize dental instruments and did that at our clinics. It was a neat experience wearing scrubs and learning about the myriad of tools that dentists use in their work.
What would you recommend to those at Broadcom who want to volunteer?
Many of the volunteers of Thousand Smiles come to us as members of a group named Rotary International. Rotary is one of several service organizations that exist in the United States and internationally. These service organizations are made up of community members and often organize projects to fill needs that exist in their local communities, such as planting trees or doing beach cleanups. Joining a service organization not only provides a structured way to learn about and participate in volunteer projects, but these groups can provide a sort of kick starter environment for more ambitious people who are interested in solving a specific problem in their community by providing infrastructure, manpower and funding.
Broadcom is exposing possible opportunities by highlighting the efforts of its employees through the Community Hero program. If someone reads about a program or volunteer effort that interests them, they should consider contacting that community hero for more information. Also, employees should take advantage of bake sales and outreach that occurs at sites like San Diego. The people involved should be able to provide more information on the group or effort that is being supported. You might like what you hear and decide to get involved.