The whir of conveyors, technology, and teamwork provide the soundtrack for Amazon’s Fulfillment Center in Tampa, Florida. Bins containing customer orders cruise the facility on their way to being packed, sorted, and shipped – it’s customer obsession in motion. But beyond the mechanics of it all, is the heart of Amazon. Senior Operations Manager Mindy Espidio-Garcia experienced that first hand, when her 9-year-old daughter Alana was diagnosed with leukemia in 2017.
“These people are my family,” Mindy Espidio-Garcia said, describing her team and the broader fulfillment center community.
Espidio-Garcia oversees teams who fulfill customer orders. She spends much of her day walking the floor of the 1.1 million square foot facility motivating associates and making sure they’re set up for success. The associates check on her, too—especially since Alana’s diagnosis. “They’ll stop and ask me how I’m doing, just make sure that I’m doing ok.”
Alana endured months of intensive chemotherapy and hospitalizations as Mindy and her husband tried to balance work and caring for their two other daughters. Her Amazon family did what they could to help.
From delivering meal and groceries to providing childcare, coworkers did “anything we could do to make sure she could spend as much time as possible with her daughter,” said Rob Packett, General Manager at Amazon. Mindy’s team would help cover her shifts at work so she could spend more time with Alana. “The team really surrounded me with love, is the best way that I can put it,” said Mindy. “They were there, literally holding us up.”
Alana lost her battle with leukemia in March 2018.
The month of September will be especially meaningful to her Amazon Family. It’s National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and Amazon will once again “Go Gold” to raise awareness for fighting childhood cancer, the leading cause of death by disease for children in the United States, according to the National Cancer Institute. Throughout the month of September, Amazon is delivering millions of boxes to customers bearing gold ribbons, the international symbol of childhood cancer, and several Amazon robotics fulfillment centers are hosting children affected by cancer to explore the magic of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).
“We want to #GoGold and make a difference for thousands of children and families, including Amazon’s own, who have been impacted by this devastating disease.”
“Amazon has the opportunity to help influence the conversation around childhood cancer, whether it’s through delivering gold boxes to customers, or our gold plane,” said Dave Clark, Amazon's Senior Vice President of Worldwide Operations. “We want to #GoGold and make a difference for thousands of children and families, including Amazon’s own, who have been impacted by this devastating disease.”
To honor Alana, who loved unicorns, the team at Tampa’s Amazon fulfillment center created unicorn pins to be awarded to associates who go above and beyond. Senior Operations Manager Shilpa Benjamin proudly displays her pin on her safety vest. For Benjamin, it’s a badge of honor. “I have a little part of Alana right here with me.”
Mindy is grateful for her extended Amazon family, where work has become even more meaningful. “Folks in this building come to find me to tell me they’ve lost someone too, and they know what I’m going through,” she said. “We lean on each other, and I don’t think there are words to express how it makes you feel to know everyone is there supporting you through everything. We are a family.”