When life gives you a very bad luck-of-the-draw from the start, the only way is up. Some can do that on their own, others need a bit of help. When it has happened to you and you did manage to pull through, what better way to use that experience than by giving back to society? My name is Freek Karel Mathieu Cox and I work at Teradata as an Account Executive in the Netherlands.
Volunteer work is something I was raised with. My mom was district chief for the Heart Disease Research Foundation, my dad was group manager of the boy scouts and organized the Fancy Fair, among other things, for the Mission Home Front. I started volunteerism myself in the darkest hour of my life. Being born 46 years ago with a disorder called motor retardation, I was bullied horribly as a child. It became so bad that I was suicidal between the age of 8 and 10.
It was during that terrifying, early stage of my life that my parents inspired me to devote my spare time to the happiness of others in similar situations. Something only a true “Knight” does, according to – then - Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, who – 30 years later – gave me a medal and ribbon of Knighthood in 2012. This was the happiest day of my life; I wear my ribbon with pride whenever I can.
I believe that every child is entitled to a certain minimal degree of happiness. When circumstances beyond the control of that child take the happiness away, I feel called upon to fix this. Making myself useful and to help others in need has become my life’s mission or calling. It gives me so much energy that I want to continue doing it for the rest of my life. During a sport-and-play day in Poland, I gave a depressed boy a used tennis ball with a smiley face and his name on it as a present. He started crying tears of joy, out of gratitude. That is a feeling nothing can beat.
I work fulltime as an account executive at Teradata, where I am also the Teradata Cares champion for the Netherlands. All my holidays are spent umpiring badminton internationally, as a volunteer, across the globe, judging at least a 100(!) matches per year. The rest of my spare time I use completely to help three charity organizations.
Helping poor children through Stichting Intentio
The Intentio Foundation in the city of Almere helps underprivileged kids in the Netherlands and Poland. We collect, among other things, clothing and toys for children’s homes in Poland. And we organize fun sports and game days for underprivileged kids in the centre of the Netherlands. I am proud to be a board member and volunteer for this amazing small charity.
The philosophy of Solibad is to bring together the badminton community to collect funds in order to help facilitate the projects of local charities involving children in different parts of the planet. As an ambassador, I have collected hundreds of materials and combined my umpiring with several project visits.
Charity Thriftshop de Waarde
On every free Saturday (and during the COVID crisis, every Saturday), I help as a sales coach at charity shop De Waarde in Utrecht. It is much more than just a charity shop. Our team of volunteers try to help as many people as possible with all kinds of problems.
The work there keeps me with both legs on the ground. I never realized, for example, how many people in poverty there are in the Netherlands. The fact that some of our customers are not even able to pay the amount of 1.75 euro really hit me hard.
To help these charity foundations, I combine hands-on help with my extensive network. I post and tweet many times about my activities and don’t hesitate to involve my business network to assemble goods, for instance. Through connecting people, you can achieve a huge amount. And I love being the one who connects the right people, the so-called spider in the web.