This piece is shared as part of Pledge 1%’s #GivingTuesdayNow campaign, which highlights how Pledge 1% members and the business community are coming together as a force for good to combat COVID-19.

Veritas has long embraced a foundational commitment to be a good neighbor and global citizen. As one of the largest real estate firms to join Pledge 1%, Veritas has furthered its commitment to social impact during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We have always had a culture of giving back, but as life has changed dramatically during the last few months, we saw the need to step up more in innovative ways,” said Yat-Pang Au, CEO.  “Our teams have been even more engaged to make a difference in housing the lives of those most in need.”

Dan Chung, an employee at Veritas for over four years, has created deep connections with his co-workers and business partners that allowed his personal mission to spark a company-wide effort. At a recent doctor’s appointment, Dan noticed medical staff without masks. When he learned there was a shortage, he decided to take action. He sent an email to his work group after midnight that night, and by 11am the next day, he had reached the funding goal to buy 5,000 masks. From here, Dan went further. He and other colleagues spread the word and Veritas CEO, Yat-Pang Au, matched funds to double the campaign to over 10,000 masks which later grew to include Au’s extended family. The momentum continued. 

For most, doubling their goal would have been enough, but not for Dan. He reached out to business colleague in Hong Kong who not only provided financial support but also helped source and ship an additional 10,000 surgical masks and the 1,100 hard-to-find- N95 masks, which were delivered to two San Francisco hospitals. 

Chung’s action showcases that it only takes one spark to make an impact. His determination to make a difference motivated his acquaintance in Hong Kong to reach out to local business leaders in Hong Kong to lend a hand to those across the Pacific Ocean. This extra spark of kindness resulted in another 50,000 mask donation to Bay Area hospitals. “It’s been amazing,” said Dan, “I just started asking, and it took off.”

Healthcare workers aren’t the only ones facing increased challenges during the pandemic. As the Shelter-in-Place ordinance became the “new normal” for Bay Area residents, the number of domestic violence cases began to rise. As one of the most active apartment operators in the Bay Area, we recognized the opportunity to help these families in need. In conjunction with the San Francisco District Attorney’s office, Veritas donated 20 apartments to survivors of domestic violence. “What Veritas and the City of San Francisco are doing is just huge for an individual or small family to get their lives on track,” said the director of La Casa de las Madres in an interview with Multi Family Executive magazine.  

In a similar effort, we understood this pandemic didn’t stop the need for temporary housing for families with sick children. Veritas extended short-term furnished apartments to the Ronald McDonald House Charities, which had to close its housing facility at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital due to the pandemic. 

Families receiving life-saving treatment for their infants at UCSF often travel great distances, including across state lines. Without the on-site housing services RMHC provides, these families are often not able to stay in proximity of the hospital. Last week, a family staying at a Veritas apartment gave birth to a newborn who was able to receive open-heart surgery hours after birth. As the Ronald McDonald House director told a local TV station, “The kids coming here are the sickest of the sick. They have to come to the (San Francisco) Bay Area to be treated so to be able to have a housing option for these families is incredible.”

Providing housing is in our ethos, but we recognize that the Bay Area has many people without homes. Last year we launched, Live with Character, an initiative to reward those making a positive impact in our communities, not because it’s their job, but because it’s their passion. We recently announced our first honoree who received a cash award to expand his community activism for the homeless. Veritas resident Peter — he prefers not to publish his last name — walks to work through the city’s often cold, rainy streets, and one evening was so moved by an encounter with a homeless person that he began carrying blankets to hand out during his walks. “These are just people who want to be treated with respect and compassion like anyone else,” says Peter. The Veritas award money will help Peter fund hundreds more blankets to provide to those in need.

“These efforts across Veritas’ organization have engaged and energized the entire team,” said Jeff Jerden, COO. “It’s made our company and our community better, in so many ways.”