As a successful business owner I have always believed it was the way we made our clients feel that was important. It was my goal to let them know that they had been heard, that their needs were our priority, and their success was as important to us as it was to them. I took on the role of pathfinder for each client and helped navigate through branding, campaigns, advertising and the like showing them the way to impact a marketplace. I felt it was our responsibility as an agency to positively effect a destination through creating economy that would support the people living in an area. I also believed in telling the true story of a destination or resort that it would resonate with potential visitors who would visit and deliver the experience they were searching for. It wasn’t until one day I volunteered to teach a class at CCMI – our local soup kitchen did I truly understand the meaning of positively affecting the lives of people. I was lucky enough to experience (for real) the true impact I had been trying to do as a marketer for my entire professional career. It was then I decided that social responsibility in business meant that choosing how to earn an income was as important than the intent to do business with good motives. I needed to become personal involved in changing peoples lives. I have never been happier in my life than I am now. The story below is written by Lisa Cronin, the Director of Volunteers for CCMI and speaks to the change in one mans life. There were many more stories that happened in the two classes I taught at CCMI but I have a story too. They changed my life, my view, my way of doing business and I am eternally grateful.
Kimberly Powers, President Insight Strategies Inc.
Mr. Bennett and The Ripple Effect of Life
By Lisa Cronin, Director of Volunteers for CCMI
Six months ago a man came into my office. I greeted him whole hearted and invited him to have a seat. His name was Mr. Bennett. Mr. Bennett had the distinct odor of alcohol on his breathe, he hadn’t bathed in days, his eyes were full of despair and I remember thinking “he has no hope”. I asked him what brought him into the agency. He gentle put his volunteer application on my desk and said “Something pushed me away from the bottle this morning and I hear you help people.” I looked down at his application and saw the most beautiful pristine handwriting I had ever seen. I told him so. I thought I saw a faint smile creep along his eyes. I gently asked Mr. Bennett did he know what CCMI did for the community. He said he had no idea except that we feed people. He told me every day for months he has been coming to our Everyday Café to eat his one meal of the day. I asked him about his life and dreams. He said to me “Ms. Lisa I haven’t shared my dreams with anyone for a very long long time.” He told me he dreamed about completing his high school education and getting his GED. He told me he knew there was a purpose for his life but he had lost his family and all hope. Please allow me to stop there in order to fill you in on another relationship that was being built building while this one builds. Months previous to meeting Mr. Bennett a group of students from a local high school came out to serve in our Everyday Café. After touring the students and getting them acclimated with the kitchen and Café, one of the young men was struck at his emotions as he served the hungry and homeless their main meal. He went home that evening and shared with his family his powerful experience. His Mother called me the next day to thank me for her son’s life changing moment at CCMI. Her name was Kimberly Powers. Kimberly is a certified trainer of a program based on the book Infinite Possibilities: The Art of Changing Your Life by Mike Dooley. It outlines the universal principles of positive thought that enables every person to thrive instead of simply survive. Kimberly wanted to offer her life powering workshop to anyone who would be interested. I excitedly introduced her to Jo Ellen Keller, CCMI’s Director of Education Innovation. Let’s get back to Mr. Bennett. I gave Mr. Bennett, Emmanuella Charles, business card. She is one of CCMI’s Social Service Case Coach her offices are right next door at the Dunbar United Way House. I encouraged him to set up an appointment and get that dream of completing his GED under way. Upon doing a background check I learned that Mr. Bennett’s previous decisions in life, would not allow him to volunteer at our agency. I offered to call two other agencies where I knew he could volunteer. How could I not? This man just took the first step to making his life better. I offer to fax over the local food bank application after he filled it out. I saw beyond anything he had to walk away with a tangible hope. Not just a smoke filled promise. I told him I looked forward to meeting him in the Café and seeing his progress. He stood up from my chair and for the first time since meeting me, smiled. He said “Ms. Lisa no one has treated me like you have today for a very long long time, I thank you.” I hugged Mr. Bennett with all my heart and told him I look forward to hearing beautiful news about his life. He walked out of my office and into the day … I sat at my desk looked out the window and truly thanked God for allowing me to meet Mr. Bennett. Weekly I would see Mr. Bennett in our Everyday Café and so enjoyed getting his updates on his life. He had a smile to his face and joy in his eyes as he filled me in about his volunteering weekly at the food bank; he was meeting regularly with our social service team and making huge strides in his life. This past Tuesday I was sitting in my office and Mr. Bennett walked in. Not the same Mr. Bennett from six months ago but a confident, sober, clean and happy man who truly had hope. He asked for a few minutes of my time. I invited him to sit down. He opened a backpack with a binder inside. He gently slid out a document, which he handed to me. It was a Letter of Completion for the Infinite Possibilities class that Kimberly Powers had just offered to our agency. He said the program changed his life in a purposeful direction full of hope. He kept looking at the document and smiling. I burst into tears and hugged him. I told him he had just made my day. He said “Ms. Lisa, you gave me a hope and a hand up when I was at my worst. I don’t know how to thank you for believing in me.” And then he gently got up walked towards my door and said “I’m off to class Ms. Lisa after three more courses I’ll have my GED.”