For National Volunteer Week, April 7-13, we shared the stories of OUC employees who donated a significant amount of their time through community volunteering last year. We’re wrapping up the series with Maria Machado, Business Analyst Specialist.

For Maria Machado, a business analyst specialist with 13 years at OUC, looking out for animals has been a lifelong endeavor. Her animal welfare volunteer work is a testament to her passion for the cause.

“My parents always had dogs and cats, and my grandmother loved parrots and parakeets, so I guess you could say I always had animals in my life,” said Maria. “I was raised to respect all life, so seeing animals being abused in any way has always been unacceptable to me.”

Since 2012, Maria has been advocating for animal rights. She has accumulated more than 120 hours volunteering for organizations such as Journey’s End Animal Sanctuary in DeLand, Grey2K USA Worldwide and Animal Rights Foundation of Florida. Recently, she volunteered to help pass Amendment 13, which prohibits wagering on dogs races in the state of Florida.

“I tell people that if something bothers you, do something about it,” explained Maria. “Whether it’s for children, the elderly, animals or somebody else, always try to do something for others. Become a voice for the most vulnerable in our society.”

Maria considers herself fortunate to work for a company that supports not only several worthy community endeavors, but also the ones closest to her heart. Recently, when the Second Chance Wildlife Sanctuary in East Orlando burned down, Maria informed the marketing team at OUC. The sanctuary, which houses and cares for exotic and abandoned wildlife that cannot be released into the wild, is currently being rebuilt thanks to a generous donation from OUC and other benefactors. Once completed, OUC plans to assist further by cleaning up enclosures, feeding the animals and simply lending a helping hand where needed.

“I love the fact that employees are encouraged to get involved,” says Maria. “OUC has shown me they truly care about people and animals, and they’re also willing to support the things I care about the most, which I’m grateful for.”