Are you going to make the basketball court feel like a real one?” asked a fifth grader, sitting at a nearby picnic table as I arrived at Belle Air Elementary to volunteer on a playground clean-up project.

While I waited to get started, I chatted with a group of kids transitioning to their after school program. Naturally curious about who we were and what we were up to, they first tried to guess where I was from, Australia? Britain? They didn’t seem to know Scotland, but were impressed that someone would come so far to fix up their yard!


I was soon joined by 40 other volunteers from Success Factors R&D, SAP Design Strategy, and our own team from TripIt & BNA. It was great to spend time with our team, meet folks from other offices, and connect with a couple of my “LEAP sisters”. Liz, from Handsonbayarea.org then laid out the plan for the afternoon and quickly put us to work.

This project was held at Belle Air Elementary in San Bruno, with 323 students K-5. According to greatschools.org, the school is not without its challenges and rates 3/10, with 20% English proficiency and 21% Math proficiency. This hit home, as my kids attend elementary school in Palo Alto (5th & 1st grade) with scores of 10/10, 86% English proficiency and 85% Math proficiency. I was more than ready to get involved and help these kids. Hands on Bay Area ran the project and had all the materials needed to contribute. Liz’s intro was interrupted more than once by the planes flying overhead from SFO. I can’t imagine how lessons must run.

After the brief chat with my fifth grade friends, how could I not help deliver a real basketball court? Other sub-groups peeled off to build boxes for plants (artichokes and herbs), re-lay tether ball lines and four square, and clean up the school perimeter.

Our team of eight began assessing the slab for the basketball court and quickly realized the faded lines from other games were not re-useable. We had to start over and design the basketball court. After searching online and drawing on expertise within our team, we set about drawing up a plan, measuring and taping out the lines and keys. Team members began painting the lines and the transformation began to unfold.


It is always hard to break away from work at the office but, as one of my coworkers said, “You’re not a surgeon, and no one is going to die if you step away from your desk for a couple of hours”. This was an incredibly rewarding way to spend our afternoon. I enjoyed being outside on a beautiful sunny day, with co-workers from across SAPsv and learning about their roles, families and interests. I reflected on how fortunate and grateful I am for everything I have. Lastly, I felt good about making a difference for someone else, specifically my fifth grade friend. He will come to school tomorrow and find his basketball court ready for action!

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