When she saw a stack of older laptops sitting in ecobee‘s headquarters in Toronto, facilities manager Nalini Ally saw an opportunity. She had recently visited a school in her home country of Guyana, and saw firsthand what access to education, technology, and support could do for children with limited access to resources.
Nalini led the charge to donate the devices for reuse, working with leadership and IT at ecobee and parent company Generac, as well as with administrators at the Guyanese school, Guyana’s Ministry of Education, and other government officials, to personally deliver the technology to the school.
ecobee Citizen: What motivated you to kickstart this donation?
Nalini: I visited the village where I was born in Guyana last year and saw first-hand that the living conditions there are not great. I wanted to do something to give back, especially for the children there.
I thought to myself, “What can I give them that can empower them for the future?” All the other things that I was thinking of giving them are just a one-off and they will be back at square one again.
With a heavy heart and the thought stuck in my head, I returned to work at the ecobee headquarters in Toronto. That was when I noticed a ton of laptops and monitors on the floor while I was doing my usual walk around in the office as facilities manager. I learned that the laptops and monitors were going to be sold or recycled.
This sparked the idea to bring these electronics to a school in Guyana. Although they were a bit outdated for our work at a fast-paced technology company, they were still fully functional and could do so much to enhance the quality of education for the students. I started liaising with Guyana’s government and that’s how this whole big project came to life.
I thought to myself, 'What can I give them that can empower them for the future?'
ecobee Citizen: What items were donated to the schools in Guyana? What kind of impact can such donations bring to the students and school?
Nalini: In total, ecobee and Generac donated seven crates filled with electronic devices, weighing over 300 pounds. This included approximately 256 monitors, 120 laptops, 120 mouses, 100 keyboards, and some phones.
It’s an amazing impact. It doesn’t just stop there at the school; it’s a circle effect where we’re preventing the electronics from ending up as e-waste, and we’re providing resources for students in need. We’re helping to empower these young children, and to open up opportunities for them. We could have sold the laptops for a few dollars, but instead, we chose to make a positive impact and donate our supplies and time – for the children, for the environment, and the planet they will inherit.
In total, ecobee and Generac donated seven crates filled with electronic devices, weighing over 300 pounds.
ecobee Citizen: We know that you personally delivered the electronics to the school in Guyana. How did you feel during the school visit? Did you have any memorable interactions or observations with the students and staff?
Nalini: The kids were so happy. I went back and built a kitchen too, which was so rewarding. We now have a close tie with the school in Guyana and we are in the process of working with the IT team to see if we can donate another set of monitors to the school.
ecobee Citizen: More than 50 million metric tons of e-waste are generated globally every year, making it a major contributor of waste accumulated in our landfills and creating significant environmental risks. How can people and companies play a part to reduce e-waste?
Nalini: I believe we need to take the time to reach out to organizations outside of each of our companies to see how we can help. Each company can also assess the technology they have and if it can be of use to someone less privileged than them somewhere, before taking it to the landfill. That’s where it starts.
ecobee Citizen: Any other thoughts you want to share with us?
Nalini: One of the best parts about this donation project is the support I got from different departments at ecobee and Generac—from IT, from our CEO Stuart Lombard, from our CFO Philip Cheng, and more. If I didn’t have that support, it would have been very challenging for me to do.
Awareness is where it starts. Someone like me who just walked around and said, “What can I give back to my community?”
About Nalini Ally
Nalini Ally is the facilities manager at ecobee and has been with the company for over five years. She was born in Guyana and later moved to Canada. While she considers Canada home, Guyana has a special place in Nalini’s heart and she continues to champion better living conditions for children in the community where she is from.
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