Gucci Changemakers Volunteering Goes Virtual

Gucci employees reflect on their virtual volunteering experiences to mark International Volunteer Day

Gucci Changemakers Global Volunteering Program launched in 2019. To empower Gucci employees around the world to connect with their local communities, engage directly with social causes and help create positive change.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has limited in-person volunteer efforts. Gucci has continued to offer employees virtual volunteering opportunities, allowing them to maintain connections with local non-profit organisations and continue supporting communities in need, particularly those impacted during the COVID-19 crisis. The situation we are facing globally reminds us that we are all in this together and that we have an opportunity to foster our collective consciousness. To celebrate International Volunteer Day, we have gathered employee stories and testimonials from virtual volunteering experiences in collaboration with our non-profit partners.

Read on to learn how Gucci Changemakers has empowered our employees to pursue causes they care about, encourage inclusivity and give back to their communities.

“Rome calls Mumbai – part two” with I was a Sari

I was a Sari is an Indian social enterprise selling upcycled products such as contemporary ready-to-wear and accessories made by pre-loved saris. Each I was a Sari product is handcrafted by underprivileged Indian women, providing them with regular income and financial independence. The Gucci Design Office Team brought to life another inspiring experience with I was a Sari addressing the need to create a new collection of accessories and ready-to-wear products that leverage embroidery and the management of sari fabrics. Gucci designers connected with I was a Sari’s artisans through a virtual exchange of creativity and insights, envisioning the evolution of embroidery techniques for I was a Sari and launching new handmade products.

“To allocate funds and to support social causes is quite routine among large organisations, much less common for them is to “donate” talents. The Changemakers program is unique and a win-win in this respect. Gucci’s employees feel rewarded by contributing to a cause close to their heart, and social changemakers like us get free access to the best professionals in the market. Whenever I’m asked to speak about our collaboration with Gucci, nothing makes me happier than talking about Changemakers.  The way to go!” – Stefano Funari, Founder, I was a Sari

Insights into the experience from Gucci employees:

“I’m grateful to have been part of this challenging project, and it’s amazing to work with these amazing Indian Sari, to develop new ideas and exchange with women artisans from I was a Sari on new materials and techniques for their collections.” – Darwell Morwenna, Gucci Designer, Rome

“The project is very inspiring in so many ways. I love the concept behind I was a Sari, and feel very grateful to have been able to contribute in some way. It is also a learning experience, to be mindful of waste, technical boundaries within a project brief like this, and sustainability in general.” – Alexandra Muller, Gucci W&M RTW Embroidery R&D Senior Designer, Rome

“It has been inspiring to be part of this project, a beautiful constructive exchange collaboration that gave us the opportunity to work with new materials and explore new techniques to support I was a Sari in the creation of their next collection, which I am sure it will be amazing.” – Alfredo Baquero Gago, Gucci Designer, Rome

“I love India and its culture. I am proud to have had the opportunity to participate in such a meaningful project. It has truly inspired me. The reuse of fabrics and materials to give them a new life has been a beautiful challenge, and one which the artisan women have prospered in overcoming. However, what is even more beautiful is that these women have the opportunity to excel themselves, gain independence and establish their own identity.”- Alisha Elaine Donalies, Gucci Designer, Rome

“Setting up a Digital Fundraising Campaign” with VIDAS

VIDAS is an Italian non-profit organisation that provides social care support and assistance to terminally ill people. Gucci employees collaborated with VIDAS to support the organisation with its fundraising social media campaigns, focused on acquiring new donors, by providing art and copy suggestions for their digital marketing strategy.

“We are pleased and honoured to have this opportunity: cooperating with cross-section teams, made up of Gucci and VIDAS employees, has been a unique way of exchanging not only professional expertise, but also values, new ideas and possible future areas of collaboration. We look forward to continuing this project together and wish to thank you all for choosing VIDAS as a partner of the Gucci Changemakers Volunteering program.”   – Lisa Orombelli, Director of Development and Communication, VIDAS

Insights into the experience from Gucci employees:

“I felt totally committed and inspired by this cause. Throughout these weeks, I worked with them to create new Social Media campaigns and contents for VIDAS to acquire new benefactors. It’s gratifying to have something worthwhile to share that is beneficial to VIDAS and see the concrete contribution we can donate simply providing our expertise and professionalism, especially in these tough circumstances.” – Giorgia Gabellini, Gucci EMEA Customer Relations Coordinator, Milan

“I’ve been working in the Fashion industry for over 20 years and I decided to join Gucci because of what their work for the planet, for equality, diversity and inclusion. When I heard about the Changemakers volunteering program, I didn’t hesitate for a minute and registered. I volunteered with VIDAS to help build and amplify their new social media campaign that will help them recruit new benefactors. They’re really making a difference to help bring back the smile to those needs, and I was thrilled to be able to contribute with my knowledge and experience.” – Alexandre Malgouyres, Gucci EMEA Communication Director, Paris

“Video-Sharing is Caring” with Opportunity Village

Opportunity Village (OV) is a Las Vegas-based non-profit organisation that serves people with significant intellectual and related disabilities, to improve their lives and the lives of their families. Gucci employees supported the work of the organisation by creating educational How-To videos for OV clients on a variety of topics, including baking cookies, plating food, yoga, rock climbing, and makeup tutorials.  In July, led by Gucci Flagship Las Vegas Joseph Juarez, 200+ Gucci employees provided 1,500 service hours creating handmade greeting cards that were shared with OV clients social distancing at home.

“This importance of Gucci’s volunteerism cannot be expressed in words.  The time given by Gucci employees is nothing less than heroic.” – Heather Davis, Manager of Volunteer Engagement, Opportunity Village

Insights into the experience from Gucci employees:

“I volunteered with Opportunity Village because of its mission for diversity & inclusion for the people it serves with intellectual and related disabilities. As a Gucci Changemaker, it’s important for me that I support and champion for those in need, who may not have a voice, and /or just need an extra hand. It was an amazing experience and I look forward too many more!” – Joseph Juarez, Gucci Store Director, Las Vegas

“It’s was a heart-warming experience being able to volunteer virtually for a great cause such as Opportunity Village. It was an honour being able to assist and be part of something special!” – Blanca Stone, Gucci Department Manager, Las Vegas

 “I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to volunteer with Opportunity Village over the past year.  The work that is done there is so inspiring and gives me hope and has motivated me in so many ways.  I challenge everyone to volunteer within their community as much as they can, no matter how small, every minute counts and makes an impact.” – Tina Thomas, Gucci Department Manager, Las Vegas

“Building Virtual Bridges” with Artolution

Virtual Bridges is a virtual workshop series developed in partnership with Artolution, a global non-profit that fosters connections through creative, participatory and collaborative artmaking. The initiative connects children and families of Gucci employees with crisis-affected youth participating in Artolution’s programs around the world. Through collaborative and interactive storytelling, participants have an opportunity to build relationships across borders and learn about each other’s cultures and social contexts. From the creation of a story to the design of a fictional fantasy character, the digital art collages created through the virtual workshops serve as a visual representation of the power of cultural exchange and inclusivity.

“It was remarkable to experience the creative sparks flying as young refugees/migrants from South Sudan & Uganda, connected with Gucci Employees Children in Italy and the United States despite great physical and cultural divides, eager to form new friendships! This was a unique opportunity for children and young people to learn from each other in a deeply personal way, speaking directly to those living a very different reality from theirs, but also finding many commonalities. After all, children are children everywhere. As we witnessed, collaborative artmaking has a vital role to play in humanising others, educating us and building positive relationships.” – Joel Bergner, CEO and Co-Founder, Artolution

“Creating Connections through IT and Computer Classes” with Sesta Opera San Fedele Onlus

Sesta Opera San Fedele Onlus is a penitentiary charitable association that operates in Milan and the Prison Institutes of San Vittore, Opera, Bollate, in the Beccaria juvenile prison and a particular ward of the San Paolo Hospital. Its mission is to provide moral and material assistance to prison inmates and their families, promoting their dignity, addressing root causes of marginalisation and facilitating their re-entrance into society. Gucci employee volunteers ran two virtual classes for incarcerated people serving sentences through “alternative detention measures.” The initial courses taught IT and basic computer skills and Gucci employees plan to offer lessons on other topics in the coming months.

“Participating in training and educational activities with Gucci volunteers through the Gucci Changemakers Programme is part of this strategy that provides useful tools and methods to convicts in order to face current society when they have finished their sentences. The support Gucci volunteers have provided also has created a sense of inclusion; developing empathy and seeking a common ground where convicts and members of the public can operate and work together.” – Chiara Santini, Counsellor, Sesta Opera San Fedele Onlus

Insights into the experience from Gucci employees:

 “Collaborating with Sesta Opera was a tremendous learning opportunity. They provide outstanding support in the recovery and reintegration of convicts into civil society. The lack of resources and focus on the human dimension from the system of law demands massive support from the volunteering world to promote equality, to give rehabilitation and integration back to society. As a result, working alongside Sesta Opera was a chance to discover how every person deserves support, respect and a sense of purpose, which can be fostered only through deepening the understanding of this world from the outside society.” – Alessandro De Vicari, Gucci Global Wholesale & Franchising Planner, Milan

“Building Creative Bridges” with Un Ponte Per

Un Ponte Per is an international solidarity association and NGO founded in 1991 immediately after the Iraq war. Its focus has always been the solidarity for the Iraqi population affected by the war. Their goal is the prevention of armed and violent conflict, particularly in the Middle East, through a series of informative campaigns, cultural exchange, cooperation projects, peacebuilding programmes and the creation of social justice networks.

Un Ponte Per and Gucci collaborated around Darfat, an initiative that provides professional training and access to the labour market to the most vulnerable people displaced by the war in Iraq. Gucci employees offered their skills in business development, communication and media, marketing and multimedia to support the program.

“A tailor shop in a Syrian refugee camp in Iraq: it was this idea that Un Ponte Per, thanks also to the Gucci Changemakers Global Volunteering Program, offered new opportunities for those who wouldn’t have had these chances. These women survived violence and escaped from the war, struggling to find a job”, said Teresa Biscosi, project manager. “As you can imagine they have been delighted to receive the training from Gucci employees, they took notes and asked questions, while sewing. This training will guarantee them and their children not only economic livelihoods, but it has also relieved their sense of pain and loneliness” – Suhaila Hassan, Workshop Coordinator, Un Ponte Per

Insights into the experience from Gucci employees:

 “I had the incredible opportunity to support Un Ponte Per on the project Darfat, involving around 30 women previously victims of violence, living in the Arbat refugee camp. Un Ponte Per is helping these women to create start-ups to become independent once outside the camp and to have an income to sustain their families. I had the responsibility to support them in establishing a sustainable business model for their project. It was also a real opportunity for me to remind myself what the true meaning of resilience, passion, courage and responsibility are and to apply them in everyday life!” – Camilla Cellini, Gucci General Manager Northern Europe, Milan

“Brainstorming New Social Media and Communication Strategy” with Istituto Mario Negri

The Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri (IMN) is an Italian non-profit organisation established in 1961. It works on biomedical research to support public health with three main goals: execute scientific research projects, train young scientists, and distribute the results at all levels. Gucci employees worked with IMN to brainstorm new strategies and initiatives to launch across the organisation’s social media channels, helping to create a new approach to communications and copywriting.

“It has been a great advantage for the Institute to be able to learn from the valuable fashion communication skills kindly provided by Gucci. In the area of communication, the fashion industry is generally considered to be one of the most active and advanced sectors. In fact, adding a touch of Gucci’s ‘sexiness’ to scientific rigour and authority has been a perfect match. Being professionally supported the amazing Gucci Team has been a fantastic experience that we are immensely grateful for.” – Daniela Abbatantuono, Communication Officer, Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri

Insights into the experience from Gucci employees:

 “I’m so thankful to be part of the #GucciCommunity that allowed me to participate in the Changemakers Program. This initiative allowed me to do something meaningful. Having a first-hand experience on a topic which is so crucial nowadays is something I’ll always be grateful for. I believe that it’s not the miles you walk but the people you help that creates a better version of yourself.” – Giorgia Margaria, Gucci Social Media Specialist, Milan

“When I decided to join the Gucci Changemakers Volunteering Program, my country was locked due to the pandemic. I had more free time than usual and I didn’t want to waste it, I wanted to make the best out of it and contribute to the efforts of the global community. When I found out that there was the opportunity to support Istituto Mario Negri, I was excited and thankful: scientific research, effective communication and solidarity can lead us out of this crisis.” – Chiara Savoldi, Gucci Social Media and Editorial Content Administrator, Milan

“Job Education – How to engage a potential customer” with Fondazione Adecco

Fondazione Adecco per Le Pari Opportunità is an Italian non-profit that supports inclusion in the world of work for people with different abilities, youth and women in need, and refugees by promoting equal opportunities for everyone. Gucci employees volunteered with Fondazione Adecco to provide job education to young people with Asperger’s syndrome by hosting a professional development workshop focused on customer service.

“The Fondazione Adecco #coloriamol’invisibile project promotes the work of inclusion for people with autism. This enables them to become a vital member of society having a positive impact on other individuals, colleagues, businesses and society as a whole. The participation of the companies is fundamental for the success of the project. In Gucci, we have found an excellent team: no one was afraid to get involved, even though the task was not easy, we achieved great results with the participants. – Laura Ciardiello, Project Coordinator, Fondazione Adecco

Insights into the experience from Gucci employees:

 “This beautiful volunteering experience consisted of presenting to a class of 6 young people with Asperger syndrome, who are currently exploring different aspects related to the workplace and employment. The goal was to let them discover more about the definition of and how to engage with clients. It was a great session of exchanging ideas but also laughing together! It made my week!” – Giulia Arlacchi, Gucci Clientelling Manager, London

 “During the session, we had the opportunity of virtually getting to know more each other, as well as share our skills to let the public discover more about who is a client, how to engage with them and interact with them in a productive/efficient way. It was so great to see great involvement from all the attendees. Personally, seeing everyone is very interested was amazing, and I hope what we shared will help them in their job search and to succeed with their future clients.” – Bianca Fassina, Gucci Clientelling Specialist, London

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