Honoring Juneteenth by Supporting Our Communities

Stephanie Yeung
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Riffyans volunteered at the Alameda County Food Bank in honor of Juneteenth, each person packing ~500 meals.

On June 17, 10 Riffyn employees (who had all been fully vaccinated) volunteered at the Alameda County Community Food Bank, which serves as a warehouse and packing center for meals. A local organization we have previously partnered with, the Food Bank provides nutritious food to other organizations that distribute the meals to Alameda county residents in need.

Not only was volunteering at the food bank a great way to give back to our community, it was also the first time we’ve gathered in person since March 2020. For myself and some other folks, it was the first time meeting face to face. That made for a number of humorous (and sometimes awkward) interactions — I realized for the first time how much taller our Product Manager, Jack Morel, is than I thought he was. We shared laughs and stories as songs requested by each Riffyan jingled in the background. Dynamite by BTS especially drew fits of laughter as being the most ridiculous song requested, while everyone grooved to Rio by Duran Duran.

Honoring Juneteenth is one of several actions we have taken in response to the deaths of George Floyd and others and the social revolution their deaths cry out for.

Earlier this year, we made Martin Luther King (MLK) Jr. Day and Juneteenth official company holidays — but with a twist. Rather than treating them as the typical take-a-day-off holidays, we decided that each year we would mark one as an official holiday and encourage people to do service in their local community and the other would serve as a day on which we will participate in community services together. On our day of service at the food bank, we were also thrilled to learn that the current Administration declared Juneteenth an official Federal holiday. How fitting!

Diversity is simply a way of life for us. As an Oakland-based company, it was only natural for us to take a strong stand in promoting diversity at home and in the scientific community alike.

Despite the joy we felt at seeing each other again, we were sobered by the very real fact that hunger is not a far-off concept we see on TV infomercials. It affects our neighbors — from baggers at the grocery stores to the mechanics working on our cars to the mothers making a living from food delivery services so they can feed their children. By the end of the day, each Riffyan had packed poundage worth 500 meals. We felt incredibly grateful to give back to a community that has given so much to us, both as a company and as individuals.

Outside the Bay Area, Riffyn employees organized community services even though they couldn’t join our Oakland-based team. For example, our Denver team volunteered at the Food Bank of the Rockies, packing 4,000 meals worth of food to feed the hungry in their local community. I am so proud to work alongside people and leaders who do what matters beyond just commercial gains.

While the vaccination rate continues to grow and businesses continue to re-open, let’s not forget those who are in need of support from their communities by taking small steps in forms of physical involvement or donation to those who in need of help from their communities. I look forward to seeing how Oakland and other cities around the world come back stronger together!

If you are interested in joining a team of people who do work that matters, check out our Careers page for current openings.

To volunteer at the Alameda County Community Food Bank, visit their volunteer page for more information.