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HanaByte Hearts: Atlanta Children’s Day Shelter

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From the time they’re born, human beings search for security in all aspects of their lives. HanaByte offers cybersecurity, an important part of daily life for most people on the planet in some form or another, with vulnerabilities extending beyond what many may assume. Cybersecurity is what keeps your private medical information secure in the computers at your doctor’s office. Cybersecurity is what keeps your personal security information locked up tightly in computers at your bank when you file for a loan. In some capacity or another, cybersecurity is what keeps the content on your phone (like photos, videos, saved passwords, and more) locked up in apps and in the cloud, instead of being distributed all around the world wide web. At HanaByte, our mission is to keep you feeling safe as you operate to ensure you never have to worry about whether you’re CMMC compliant, whether your infrastructure is fraught with vulnerabilities, or how you can prevent implicit trust in your enterprise. We have solutions for these security concerns at HanaByte. 

Security, however, extends beyond the screen you’re reading this on right now. Food insecurity, housing insecurity, environmental threats, and animal safety are all security measures that HanaByte recognizes outside the scope of our service offerings. This is where outreach exists. The outreach beyond our cybersecurity offerings, or in essence, how we give back to our communities, industry, and fellow professionals and neighbors, plays just as significant a role in our culture as the security measures that we’re experts in offering as a business partner.
HanaByte CTO Eric Evans shops with HanaByte Hearts Volunteer program

Taking the First Step

One point of consideration this quarter was the idea of how HanaByte might be able to give back to families in the community around our headquarters and be active participants in changing the lives of those in our local community. As more team members join who are parents, there was a consensus that working together to help families would be the theme of our first quarter objective in outreach. When proposing possible collaborators, Atlanta Children’s Shelter (ACS) quickly became a favorite choice with its classroom sponsorship program and its team’s impeccable coordination. Not only did ACS provide a personal point of contact for HanaByte to communicate with, but they also worked with our schedules to ensure we were able to experience the full breadth of their volunteer program while also meeting our client’s needs.  The ease of communication will make any potential future events all the easier.

This eagerness to partner emphasizes our beautifully human and compassionate company value structure, which mirrors the drive and heartfelt desire to help others that led to the development of our own volunteer program. Where others view being human as a vulnerability, for the weakness and potential frequency of error, there is also such a deep goodness in the inherent desire to help one another that also exists in that acknowledgment of humanity. HanaByte operates as a human-first company, careful to consider the person showing up for work in all of their experiences, emotions, and vulnerabilities. One such vulnerability is the experience of needing to ask for help. It can be such an extremely difficult thing to do when barriers like pride or ego stand in the way of admittance of weakness. It’s also such a brave and important part of progress forward to overcome such barriers to ask. Helping those who ask for help is the mission of ACS. 

The Space We Take

Perhaps you’re reading this from your desk at work, from the passenger seat in a car as you ride along, or maybe somewhere else where you’re (hopefully) connected to a secure internet source. Wherever you are as you read, take a moment to reflect on the space you’re occupying in the world right now. From the tips of your toes to the top of your head, the mass of your existence in its entirety might seem extremely small when compared to the vastness of the city you’re in and even more so when you scale out beyond the measure of what your mind can even comprehend of the universe. Even smaller is the space that is occupied by children in this world, a space that we all must be conscious of as they continually change day to day, one that should be protected. Those who cannot and should not have to worry about where they will sleep securely each night or what they might eat just to have the energy they need to keep growing one more day, deserve and require a safe space of their own where they can take up room, play outside on playground equipment, and roll on the floor with infinite imagination. These are not hypothetical worries for the children at ACS. These are real problems that children are facing in the community around you right now. Unseen in your commute, and perhaps unspoken in classrooms out of fear or shame, food, and housing insecurity are issues that ACS has been combating in Atlanta for over 30 years for the children in their community. 

ACS is focused on helping families who face homelessness with children under the age of six. This could mean the family is living in a shelter, facing eviction, or even those who are living from place to place. They provide resources, support, childcare services, and even food to the little ones they care for. As part of our sponsorship, we were given two wishlists to shop off of that focused on supporting the shelter family support efforts and supporting their preschool classroom. As our team reviewed the wishlist provided, there was both excitement at making a difference to the families in need and sadness that gripped our hearts. Looking over the list that included items such as diapers, socks, and formula was a reminder of just who this program is supporting, and the ones we support are so very small and powerless. As the team gathered to go shopping, some team members were shopping for these items for the first time. It served as a reminder of how costly basic care items like diapers are and started dialogue from coworkers with children on how often such purchases are required.

The idea of helping a child in need as a theoretical volunteer initiative can also be quite different from the experience of actively shopping for a child. Picking up a pair of 2T socks and holding it in one palm and really recognizing how very tiny those little feet are is terrifying. The monumental significance of how impactful the mission is can be both emotional and eye-opening for many team members who have not had real experience with reconciling the gap that exists between what a baby is and who a baby is. The good-natured HanaByte team kept their spirits up with hopeful energy as they discussed the importance of HanaByte Hearts and how proud they were to be taking part in this experience. There is a shift that takes place when actively being part of such efforts, a space that begins to be taken within the individuals where this awareness exists. The space that our efforts take up may only be visibly measured in canisters of food, toys for the classroom, and essential supplies for the children and families. Still, the space that these stories take up in our initiatives moving forward could continue to whittle away at a larger problem that is being fought daily.

HanaByte Ohana shops for HanaByte Hearts Volunteer program for Atlanta Children's Day Shelter

Taking Back Control

While the efforts of Atlanta Children’s Shelter in offering support to the children are incredibly important, it’s worth mentioning that the support offered to parents is just as crucial to helping to solve this problem. Many find the plight of homelessness to be vacuous, as often caretakers will find themselves in a loop of problems that feed into one another. A parent who needs to go to work cannot take the child with them. But if they do not have money to pay for childcare, where shall the child go while earning income? If there are no trusted friends or family members to assist with childcare, how will they earn an income? Homelessness can also be a development that comes with changes in housing situations after the safe delivery of a child. 

ACS works to provide valuable resources to help numerous families, including providing bus fare cards to families who need transportation to work but lack the means, as well as offering childcare services to alleviate parental concerns about their children while they work. Beyond this, the ACS school rooms also provide snacks and meals, including weekend snack offerings for children to take with them to have food when they leave the facility. Additionally, though only children under the age of 6 are allowed at the facility in the classrooms, snacks will also be sent home to brothers and sisters who are at school during the day as well. Their comprehensive approach to the collection also takes into consideration the experience of childhood for the child as well, filling in as many of the gaps as possible where a child facing insecurities can still take part in holidays. ACS collects toys, bicycles, and various other items throughout the year for its Christmas event. Parents are allowed to come in and pick the items for their children who are part of their program and extend this inclusivity to their siblings as well.

Atlanta Children's Day Shelter working with HanaByte Hearts Volunteer Program

ACS’s well-rounded support system was outlined in person when the HanaByte team was invited to tour the facilities in person at the drop-off event. The team was met by our coordinator with a trolley so that items did not need to be carried in and we were escorted through a clean and extremely secure facility. Emily Stinson, Development Coordinator and HanaByte’s point of contact throughout the process scheduled time to personally meet with our team and provide a tour of the classrooms, storage, and office spaces. There were three layers of security clearance with locked doors before they reached the innermost part of the facility where the children were. They stay secure at the heart of both their operation and their facility, where the rooms are colorful, tidy, and filled with educational materials. The evidence of little ones was present in the art on the walls where tiny handprints were adorned on construction paper, where photos decorated the cabinets, and small snack cups were drying next to the sink. The little cubbies lined up on the walls had plastic bins for their belongings to stay in during their time in the facility, and despite her utmost professionalism, Emily seemed invested and passionate as she spoke about their mission and their work. 

She spoke of their limited capacity and how they longed to provide more families with these resources to take their lives and their ability to protect their families back into their own hands. She spoke of the accomplishments of their program in successfully giving caretakers the tools they need to get back on their feet including financial counseling and more. One of the problems that ACS is facing, is for their toddlers (ages 2 -4), who share a classroom. Their goal is to have the class size broken down into two allowing the three and four-year-olds to have their own classroom as they’re at more advanced stages of development. Most parents withdraw their children after the age of five, as they would be eligible for public school and it’s easier to drop all of their little ones off at one location. Their pre-k class, as a result, has plenty of availability as a result. ACS is having active conversations about converting this room into a new classroom to better assist the developmental changes faced by children. Emotionally, the HanaByte team listened and learned about the experiences and opportunities that were being created down the road from where they lived and how helpful it might be for the team to come in and speak to parents about cybersecurity or other forms of work through their open education platforms.

Taking Back Control

Conversations changed to goodbyes and HanaByte wrapped their second phase of collaboration with reassurance that there are empathetic and resourceful support systems in place that are working to help those who ask for it in the Atlanta community. But the conversation was also a reminder that they did not know that ACS existed until January of 2024. An organization that has been giving back for multiple decades that worked with thousands of individuals in collaboration, assistance, and care programs. It immediately became important to share the important messaging and the mission of ACS with the world. 

According to their literature, “The Atlanta Children’s Shelter has 50 child slots through its Early Childhood Education Program. The shelter maintains a waiting list when it reaches its capacity of 50 children. When a space becomes available, parents are contacted in the order in which they applied.” This means that every family that reaches out with need is not able to be guaranteed a place in this program. Through the reformation efforts and investment of government programs and non-profits alike, Atlanta has been able to reduce the number of homeless people by 32% since 2017. While this valiant effort is made through the work of countless individuals and programs, it can only continue to flourish with the donations and support of the communities which it exists within. Recently, in an effort to help improve awareness of their program and its offering, ACS has made a huge shift with a grand rebranding! They have updated their name to Atlanta Children’s Day Shelter to place focus on their job supporting children as well. 

HanaByte is making space in our content, in our company’s scheduling, and in our operational infrastructure to lend our support. We hope that as we work to secure the world in all applications of the sentiment, we might present an opportunity to others to support these sometimes long-standing and unseen efforts. While we may be leaders in cybersecurity, we recognize and hope to lift the voices of leaders in securing the growth of the children in our communities. From one security company to another, we can share our efforts and build a better future for the future of our industry and the future of our society together.
The HanaByte team donating materials to the Atlanta Children’s Shelter

If you or someone you know would like to be a part of giving back to Atlanta Children’s Day Shelter, visit their website today. You can also find additional resources such as financial counseling, mental health services, transportation assistance service offerings and more. If you would like to apply to their program or check availability for their waiting list, you can do so from their services page.

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