When PayPal’s Laurence Franslay spots a problem, he can’t help but approach it like an engineer.
“We are trained to break down big problems into smaller problems, and small problems into even smaller problems, to the point that they’re simple to solve,” he said.
That’s how he decided to approach a crisis he saw unfolding throughout Singapore, where he lives and works. When the lockdowns during the early stage of the pandemic began, “a lot of part-time income that families used to rely on was gone overnight,” said Laurence. “All the entertainment venues were closed, restaurants were closed.” Many lost their jobs and struggled to afford staples like bread, rice, and milk, for example.
Laurence felt he had a “moral responsibility” to help his community, especially given his privilege of still being employed. His engineering mindset led him to identify a problem in how families struggling received help: Applications for government aid were both inaccessible to less tech-savvy families and slow to process, leaving many families vulnerable to falling into poverty.
Alongside seven other associates he founded Project Stable Staples with the goal of “looking out for our neighbors in a time of crisis.” With his background in tech and payments, Laurence helped build the organization’s website and set up a way to process donations.
“When families get in trouble,” he explained, “they really only know that they’re in trouble that week. They don’t know about it three months ahead of time. For us, it was important to meet this gap and help them try to get through it while they wait for other grants to come in.”
Laurence Franslay’s Project Stable Staples supplies families with essentials
Project Stable Staples focused on supporting families through this transition and helped individuals navigate the assistance application process. Specifically, Project Stable Staples focused on providing grocery store vouchers, diapers, and infant formula.
“We realized that [diapers and infant formula were] the largest ticket item for many of these families,” Laurence said. “We wanted to take the pressure of feeding the baby away from these families.”
Early on, a few of Laurence’s PayPal colleagues got wind of Project Stable Staples and nominated him as part of the #PayPalItForward campaign, with Project Stable Staples receiving money to fund the project.
“The #PayPalItForward award helped us meet the needs of the babies in the early days, and [helped inspire] the second phase, where we spun up a quick response fund for families,” he said.
The project grew in size and recognition as the community realized how effective this approach was.
“We started getting names from hospitals, from social service organizations,” recalled Laurence. “Nurses would ring us up and say, ‘Look, I have this family who's getting checked out the hospital tomorrow. The family's struggling. We need your help to get them some groceries.’”
From March to September 2020, Project Stable Staples raised around US$118,000 and helped 3,055 individuals from 628 families across Singapore. In the fall of 2020, Laurence was recognized by the Singaporean president with a “People of Good” award as part of the President's Volunteerism and Philanthropy Awards.
For Laurence, the experience has been personally rewarding. Knowing he has been able to directly support families with babies in times of need has helped him find an "inner happiness."
“Seeing that people are actually in a better state than they were before, because of actions you take, is a very rewarding experience,” he said.
To learn more about volunteering opportunities as a PayPal employee, visit the PayPal Community Impact Hub, and follow in:#community_impact_teams on Slack.
To support and learn more about Project Stable Staples, visit projectstablestaples.sg
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