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.”
I recently spoke with an editor and photojournalist in the Benefitfocus Media Department about the impact that a compassionate response to a local tragedy can have. Unexpected loss and pain takes its greatest toll when there is no outreach of love and compassion, but as he found out, human compassion and a desire to proactively respond to tragedy can take what was intended for bad and change it into a thousand acts of kindness.
His wife is the pastor of a local African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church. They had a close relationship with pastor and South Carolina State Senator Clementa Pinkney and others who lost their lives in the Mother Emmanuel AME Church shooting of June 17th.
The emotional impact of the tragedy didn’t catch up with him until after coming to work on the morning of the 18th, when his phone began to ring and friends began to ask for confirmation of the event. Although the emotional depth began to take its toll, he experienced immediate love and support from the media team and then, as news spread, from throughout the company. When he needed it the most, his fellow associates recognized and provided him with three things: prayer, offering of themselves for help and simple presence. Nina, his manager, sensing the needs at home, encouraged him to go be with his wife and church community.
In direct and immediate response, Benefitfocus set up a giving program matching the funds donated by its associates, two dollars for every one dollar given, so that Benefitfocus’ total contribution to the families of the Mother Emmanuel Church exceeded $100,000.
He was humbled. He told me that people “have a nice streak in them” that shined brightly during this time. He noted that we seemed to come alive with compassion, taking caring action to relieve the pain. He noted the biblical principle of sowing and reaping and the fact that giving, in all its forms, has powerful, positive consequences.
Charleston evolved—it changed—and Benefitfocus associates banded together with the Charleston community to give words of encouragement, prayers, thoughts and myriad of actions, small and great—spurring on a tidal wave of solidarity that swept across the city and beyond.
In the course of all of our lives tragedy may happen. It takes its greatest toll when no one is around to reach out with love and compassionate action. I am thankful to be part of a work family that comes together in time of need and supports each other in any way possible. I foresee a day when the ripple effect of these actions will cause us to be widely recognized as a company with both the resources and the team to assist in any way necessary to make our world a better place to live.
Let your “nice streak” shine!
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: