Posts Tagged ‘sense of community’

The Gift of Giving at Work: B’s Diner Outreach

December 13th, 2010

The heart of B’s Diner is its owners: Brenda Der and her husband Bob Ziniak. The fact that this is no ordinary diner is evident by Brenda’s comment: “We just feel that this is our home. And we want to bring people into our home.”

Shortly after they opened the diner in 2002, Brenda noticed people in the back alley regularly going through garbage dumpsters, carrying what they could in their shopping carts. She was emotionally impacted by talking to them and the pain she saw. She decided to help.

Brenda started to feed the people that were hungry. And she invited those that were cold into her warm restaurant.

Shortly after, she and her husband began holding weekly dinners for the less fortunate. They covered the cost of these dinners through their tips and donations from customers. On occasion, they would provide entertainment: a movie and popcorn or a karaoke night.

This week, Brenda and Bob will host their annual Christmas celebration, which includes a meal and entertainment by many of the diner’s clientele. While everyone is invited, the Christmas meal will be free for the under-privileged. Others who can afford it are asked to bring a donation.

Their generosity is even more inspirational when we hear about Brenda and Bob’s own financial struggles. Last summer, their son, Jeremy, died when he was swept into an undercurrent. The diner was closed for two months after his death, leaving the couple with unpaid bills and arrears in rent payments. Not to mention the unexpected funeral costs for their son.

Their beloved customers were quick to help. Not only did they join an 18 day search for their son’s body, they threw a fundraiser to help the family with the bills and arrears so that they could reopen the diner.

Many of the customers support Brenda and Bob’s efforts through contributing to the B’s Diner Outreach. They donate things like money, clothing and sleeping bags. One customer said, “In a sense, it’s like a community project. It’s very much a restaurant where we are both customers and participants.”

Recently, Brenda and Bob have faced additional financial stress: the transmission in their van died and the two ovens in their restaurant broke down – irreparable due to age. They have no money to replace the ovens.

Yet, in spite of their added difficulties, the Christmas celebration will go on, albeit, at a different location. How does Brenda respond to the breakdown of the ovens?

“We’ve had bigger hurdles than that this year, a lot bigger. As down as we are, it helps to do this. It does make me feel better to help other people.”

Kindness and generosity at work goes hand in hand with spirit at work. Not only does the person receiving the act of kindness benefit, so too does the person showing kindness and anyone observing. It just feels good to help another out or to see someone being helped out.

How are you offering the gift of giving at work? Is there something that you and your colleagues can be doing? What about your organization?

Want to learn more? Sign up for our monthly newsletter where we will explore this topic in more detail. Read the book Rethinking Your Work and learn how to create spirit at work.

Val Kinjerski, PhD, is a leading authority in the field of employee engagement and on the topic of “spirit at work.” A consultant, agent of change and professional speaker, she helps companies and organizations increase employee retention and boost productivity by reigniting employees’ love for their work. Check out her Spirit at Work Program and Inspired Leadership training at www.kaizensolutions.org. Val is the author of Rethinking Your Work and Rethinking Your Work Guidebook. Available now at www.rethinkingyourwork.com.

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Posted in Getting to Spirit at Work, Seeing Work as an Act of Service, Spirit at Work (SAW) in Action | Comments (0)

How might we create stronger, more connected communities at work?

May 19th, 2010

How would our workplaces be impacted if we made it easier for employees to gather over a cup of tea? If we created an environment for colleagues to come together for conversation and a sense of community? Like the CommuniTea Infusion van is doing for community residents?

The City of Edmonton and the non-profit Edmonton Learning Community have just made it easier for residents to come together for a cup of tea. Residents are encouraged to invite the CommuniTea Infusion van – a mobile tea house – to their community. All they have to do is let their neighbours know when it is coming.

At the predetermined time, the CommuniTea Infusion van drives to the established location and creates a town square where neighbours can gather, listen to music and share a cup of tea and conversation.

Ben Weinlick, a director with the learning community says the van “is a catalyst for people to come together. It is the simple idea that conversations can sow the seeds of stronger, more connected neighbourhoods.”

The CommuniTea Infusion concept is based on Portland’s T-Horse and Jim Diers, a Seattle-based community engagement expert. What if we used a similar notion to engage the community at work?

My research has shown that belonging and feeling that we are part of a community is a key dimension of spirit at work – that sense that we are fully engaged and that our work is meaningful and fulfilling. It is a matter of rethinking our work.

Want to learn more? Sign up for our monthly newsletter where we explore this topic in more detail. Read the book Rethinking Your Work and learn how to create spirit at work. Chapter two delves into the dimensions of spirit at work - a sense of community is one.

Val Kinjerski, PhD, is a leading authority in the field of employee engagement and on the topic of “spirit at work.” A consultant, agent of change and professional speaker, she helps companies and organizations increase employee retention and boost productivity by reigniting employees’ love for their work. Check out her Spirit at Work Program and Inspired Leadership training at www.kaizensolutions.org. Val is the author of Rethinking Your Work and Rethinking Your Work Guidebook. Available now at www.rethinkingyourwork.com.

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Posted in Creating organizational conditions, Employee Engagement and Spirit at Work | Comments (0)

After the Recession, How Do We Get Back on Track?

July 15th, 2009

The Conference Board of Canada announced today that the worst is over and that Canada can expect to climb out of the recession this quarter. That is the good news. But as employment numbers lag behind signs of economic recovery, the bad news is that the damage resulting from the recession is well underway. Experts point to the shock waves of layoffs today and those that are anticipated tomorrow. Those who avoid layoffs are left with “survivor’s guilt.” Others go out of their way to show that they are worthy of their job – some to the point of damaging their health or their relationships.

Rather than working together for the higher good, many employees find themselves looking after their own best interests. They are in competition with their colleagues. Any why not? With families to take care of, mortgages and other financial responsibilities, it is natural for survival mode to kick in. And yet, everyone loses. Employers lose commitment to the company. Customers lose service. And, employees lose shared support and that sense of community that is the glue for an inspired workplace.

What is a sense of community? A sense of community is best described as feeling connected to others at work and through work. This sense of connection involves feelings of trust, mutual respect and a shared purpose with our co-workers. When we feel connected we feel like we belong at work. We are a part of a community, part of a team where others care about us and we care about them. We know that we matter. Everyone knows that their work is important and that they need to work together to achieve common goals. When this connection permeates the workplace, it doesn’t matter if you are the CEO, janitor, receptionist or someone in between; everyone shares the connection. Sharing a sense of purpose and meaning with our co-workers about our work contributes to feelings of community at work and of course, our spirit at work. Connection with others, along with a common purpose, goes a long way to achieving mutual goals and getting organizations back on track.

So what is the answer? It is time to rebuild the relationships damaged as a result of decisions made during the recession. To rebuild a sense of community and a shared common purpose among employees and employers. To help employees become more fully engaged in their work and the reason they took the job in the first place. It is time to rethink our work.

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Posted in Creating organizational conditions, Emerging from the Recession, Spirit at Work Program | Comments (0)