The other day, I was home for the Thanksgiving holiday – surrounded by family – when the topic of homelessness and mental health came up in conversation.
We debated a bit back and forth as families of all political spectrums do, and slowly the conversation transitioned to homeless shelters in my hometown, Dallas, Texas – which led me to discuss a recent company experience at The Gathering Place in Denver, Colorado.
We dovetailers recently volunteered at The Gathering Place for ½ day for a team community service project, and while there, I had been personally blown away at the quality and thought put into every program implemented at the organization.
“Wow,” we all awed as we were shown the various classrooms for children and the top-story outside playground so parents didn’t have to worry about their kids running into the streets.
Having bounced around the Denver neighborhood boroughs volunteering for various homeless shelters, I felt I had seen it all in terms of what was offered to those who are struggling in this city.
This was different, however. The Gathering Place was well staffed, clean, and the food was of a quality I acknowledged as we prepared lunch for everyone.
I brought this up to my family and mentioned how great the entire involvement had been from my point of view. (I recognize that I’m on the other side of this, so I don’t wish to speak for the members who are at The Gathering Place every day – utilizing their services.)
Anyway, as I explained some of their services, someone in my family asked, “Wait, your company actually takes ½ days to give back?”
I nodded. “Of course. Doesn’t yours?”
“We give money,” they snorted. “And call it charity. Maybe once a year we do something as a team, but not regularly or as meaningful… or, really, together.”
I’ve since reflected on that conversation and wanted to address it here in this blog post.
There is quite a difference, I’ve found, in a company that #givesback to stick it on an Instagram page – and a company that gives back.
One of the most appealing aspects of dovetail solutions I learned about when I interviewed here over a year and a half ago (can’t believe it’s been that long!) was that there would be hours allocated to Community Service for each and every individual employee.
We are expected, as a team, to develop interests and passions and compassion(s) outside of our office and give back to those.
Whether it be professional or community investment – it is made clear on day 1 that giving back is truly part of the situation we sign onto at dovetail solutions.
I realized, while discussing this topic with various family members last week, that this isn’t always the case. As I reflect on past jobs and environments, I find I can rarely recall a time we “gave back” as a team – and most certainly did not have time allocated toward the idea.
As an “active activist” for eating disorder recovery – and mental health in general – I occasionally have interviews or speaking engagements or meetings to attend that surrounded the topic.
At times, I’ve been asked the question, “Does your boss know you’re on boards or meeting for an event outside of the company?”
“Sure,” I’ve said – without much thought. “Of course he knows. We have hours allocated towards it.”
However, as I sit here today, writing this, I recognize, yet again, how fortunate it is when a company truly invests in the idea that having outside interests is valuable to both the employee and the culture.
As a result of working at dovetail, I’ve had multiple opportunities to grow professionally through workshops and leadership forums – as well as grow personally in my passion for eating disorder recovery advocacy.
Having the flexibility to do both is a breath of fresh air – and keeps morale high. I don’t feel as though I have to always separate outside passions from passion for public relations.
We are constantly given new experiences to give back around Denver– and thus helps a fairly new ‘Denverite’ like myself – feel like a true part of this community.
It’s easy to take for granted the idea of community involvement. But when you’ve truly found a passion that ignites you as a person – it is incredibly beneficial and critical to work for a company that aligns with that ideal.
As we sit smack-dab in the middle of the “thankful” season, I’m thankful to have found a company that does just that.