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Inside Mazda

Small Acts, Big Impact: How to Help Others from Your Living Room

Mazda Cares featuring Matthew Valbuena

This is Mazda Cares. In light of COVID-19, we’re sharing stories of how our Mazda family is coping with (and even combatting) the crisis. Tracing back to our Hiroshima roots, Mazda has a deep history of helping communities in times of need. Our aim is to share stories that highlight our belief that what matters most is one another — because through the power of humanity and community, we can overcome any challenge.

With the mounting needs unveiled by the pandemic, deciding where to help can be daunting. But that hasn’t stopped Matthew Valbuena, Vehicle Engineering, Static Engineer II for Mazda North American Operations. “People want to help but they don’t know how to help. They don’t realize small things can make a big difference,” he says — noting that this is not unlike Mazda’s belief that small changes can add up to a larger impact.

Since Matthew and his wife Jeanette are working from home full time and tending to their son’s remote learning, they knew that clocking volunteer hours would be a challenge. However, they don’t see that as a reason to isolate themselves from a community in need. The solution was easy — get behind people already doing great things, support the people they would usually pay for services, and regularly check in on friends and neighbors, especially those that live alone.

Social distancing and shelter-in-place orders have made for the perfect opportunity to make a positive impact on his community through everyday acts of generosity and graciousness — not unlike how Matthew’s work at Mazda has taught him that small changes and improvements can add up to make a big difference. Case in point: Matthew and his family can’t make PPE face shields, but a friend with a shop equipped for high-end specialty car builds figured out how to use his tools to make 6,500 face shields a week. The Valbuenas supported his fundraising efforts to help cover the cost of materials and shipping to hospitals and connected their friend to a nearby children’s hospital in need.

“It’s sort of selfish, really. I get the benefit of knowing that I’m helping,” says Matthew. “It really goes back to that idea that it feels better to give than receive, because it really does.” By putting people first — be it their local food bank, barber, housekeeper, neighbors, or single friends — Matthew and his family are actively living out the Mazda value that what matters most is one another.