This post is a part of our “Standing on the Platform for Good” series. For the original essay, please see “Building a Platform for Good: Creating Value While Adding Value.”
In his recent blog, Shawn writes, “When businesses set out to create value while adding value, everyone benefits.” Everyone benefits—the business benefits; its associates benefit; members of the community benefit. We can see those connections pretty clearly, but the effects are even farther reaching than we might originally notice. Today I’d like to share a story that highlights the ripple effect one value add can have.
Earlier this summer, Benefitfocus pledged support to East Cooper Community Outreach (ECCO), an organization that strives to eliminate poverty in the East Cooper region. The donation will help fund a computer lab in ECCO’s new facility in Huger, SC, providing a classroom to teach computer skills like keyboarding and using Microsoft Office as well as enabling members of the community to connect with employers and find jobs.
As Benefitfocus was founded in the spirit of innovation with the goal of equipping people with the information and resources they need to provide for themselves and their families, this project resonated with our associates, a group of which went to the facility to set up the computer lab.
As I learned more about the project and the people who participated, there were a few things I found particularly interesting. First, most of the associates who were involved found out about the event through a weekly newsletter our Community and Culture team sends to associates. In most cases, no one specifically asked them to participate. They learned about the project, and they responded to the need out of their own desire to do so.
Each participant also had a slightly different reason for helping. People often say they want to “give back” to the community, but when you dig a little deeper, it isn’t just about giving back. Each person saw a need and interpreted it based on his own personal experience. Jeff, a senior software engineer, reflected that his own sons were looking for work at the time. “I couldn't imagine how they might do it without any access to a computer. What an unimaginable disadvantage today!” he said.
Another volunteer, Michael, an architect who has been with Benefitfocus for 10 years, reflected on his own love for computers and technology and the investment people made in his life to develop that passion. “I have seen the ongoing impact when people feel shut out from advancement because they haven't had a basic intro to technology,” he noted. “[Technical knowledge] is something many folks take for granted, but is still very much a challenge to folks without someone to welcome/introduce them.”
Education was the aspect that resonated with Nicholas, an operational support engineer. “I believe that education is one of the best things for a community, as it can create a ripple effect of growth as the person receiving the education goes out into the community and relates with others with his/her newfound knowledge.”
It truly is a ripple effect, and the stone was cast with just one email asking for volunteers. Those volunteers set up a computer lab that will touch countless lives, and those people will share their knowledge with others. After being a part of the ECCO project, Enterprise Account Manager Nick decided to volunteer with Communities in Schools, through which he will serve as a mentor at North Charleston High School during the 2015–2016 school year.
Like with Nick, the feeling of adding value to another’s life will stick with each volunteer, often inspiring them to share their talents with others. And the ripples will spread and touch people and places—the extent of which we may never know. As a company we have the opportunity, and even the responsibility, to be that stone—to provide opportunities and empowerment to our associates, to spread value in the lives of others—in our local community and throughout the world.
For more stories of associates adding value in their communities, please see the following posts from the "Standing on the Platform for Good" blog series: