Leesa Love: Hello, and welcome to OnPoint Pod, a podcast created by the team at OnPoint Global. I’m Leesa Love.
Binta Dixon: And I’m Binta Dixon.
So, you remember those community service hours you had to do to graduate?
Leesa: Oh yeah, I had to scrounge around for some of those hours, for sure.
Binta: Yeah, me too. Sometimes, I mean I love to do the service, but sometimes it was definitely a source of panic, because you would wait to the end of the year, and then you have to do like 50 hours of service.
Leesa: Yeah, seriously, I once had to start an entire community service club just so that my friends and I had enough service hours by the end of the year. It was a feat.
Binta: I actually missed having the requirement, because it was so much harder to find time to do things like that.
Leesa: Yeah, it’s really hard to find a balance between like, going to work, and getting home, making sure you’re actually eating food, and you know, still finding time to give back in the community.
Binta: Exactly. I mean, I remember feeling really disconnected from the community because, with just starting my first full-time job and then balancing adult life, finding time to actually volunteer just seemed impossible.
Companies like OnPoint often give employees the opportunity to give back through days of service. Today we’ll be discussing how you know if what you’re doing is really making an impact, and if not, how do you increase that impact, while tapping into the potential of your employees.
Gary Allen: Well, right now here in the HeArt Room, right, we have we have many different programs that come through here. We have a drug treatment program that comes in here. We have a Phoenix program, for people who have been involved with human trafficking, you know. We have a jail diversion program. Jail diversion is for people who have mental illnesses, instead of putting them in jail they bring them over here to Camillus House. People come through here from the day program. Day program is, like I told you earlier where they come and get the shower, check their mail and get something to eat.
So you have different people coming from different programs, coming in here to experience this HeArt Room. I have an open mic where they can express themselves on the mic, they can do art, they can paint. You know, because this is originally and an art room, so I would say the people who come through here are people that really need need their help. You know, they really need their help and they need to be involved with people who are inside these situations, or people who were kind of wandering around like I was, and not knowing what they want to do with their life. To help them identify who they are, and what they can do and all that’s inside of them.
Binta: The voice you just heard was Gary Allen, the resident artist and creator of the HeArt Room, the go-to creative space at Miami’s Camillus House, a nonprofit that provides vital resources for our homeless community.
Leesa: Companies find that participating in community service plays a major part in employee morale and satisfaction, as Sarai Jaimes, the HR manager at OnPoint explains.
Sarai: We think about policies, about procedures, we think about recruiting, hiring, training, and all those different things that are indeed part of HR, but I think it goes beyond that. As HR professionals we are responsible also for employees morale and satisfaction, and one way to help with this is by having employee volunteer programs.
Employees who participate in these types of activities that are provided by their employers are more likely to experience greater workplace satisfaction, higher moral, pride; they tend to feel more positive, they are loyal, and this ultimately translates into a higher level of engagement at work and also teamwork, because we go out there and you work as a team to collaborate to serve your community, you’re definitely putting into your practice teamwork abilities, and that definitely can be transferred into the workplace.
And I can get into other areas, for example, it also helps to attract talent. Nowadays, we have professionals who are so interested in not only having a job, but to feel motivated by the employer to go above and beyond, and they also want to serve the community, and they prefer a work environment that shows some sort of social responsibility.
And also from the company perspective, we also have a social responsibility to serve and help others, to give back to our community. So by promoting and encouraging volunteering experiences, we are not only collaborating with employees morale and satisfaction, but we’re also doing our part as a business. So it’s definitely beneficial for everybody, for the employees who are looking for something more meaningful and who can get engaged with our company, and also for the business, who can do something as a team to help the community.
Leesa: We sat down with Marcos Garcia, our Video Production Manager, Carlos Olaechea, and Binta Dixon, Content Editors, to get their take on what makes service meaningful in the workplace.
Marcos: I feel like it’s important for us to do something for the people who are already from here, and for sort of the community as a whole, the Miami community. And I was really happy about it, because it was basically one of our partners coming in and saying “Hey, we realize we don’t exist in a vacuum, and we want to care about society.” And generally I don’t like going and doing service in terms of like, cleaning or cooking, or any of that, just because an hour of my time spent cooking isn’t as impactful as an hour of my time spent doing something in my field of expertise.
So the fact that I can use video, and use the things that I’m good at, and the things I can actually provide a real value to help people, you know, means a lot to me because I have more reach. And so the idea came about pretty quickly of, well, what impacted us the most at Camillus House was talking to Gary, and sort of the stories of the clients, and sort of making an emotional connection, and we pretty quickly decided that we wanted to help, you know more of these artists, more these clients connect with the larger Miami audience and get their art in front of more people. As well as training them in skills that could help them improve, not just to you know, ways to kind of job quick ABC, but also you know internally, creatively, or whatever other ways that might matter.
Carlos: Sometimes it is difficult to find a corporate setting where you can express your creativity well, and I think that dozens of being the downfall of a lot of companies. That they don’t provide their creative employees enough outlet for expressing their creativity. So this is a good way in which we can get creative outlet, and we can really, really shine besides our job responsibility of being content editors.
Binta: To make service worthwhile for employees and those in need, we needed to match our mission and skills with the community need. That’s how we create impact: through community building.
Gary: Fear can keep you in cages. You know, you allow the pain of your past to keep you in cages. There’s so many people in our society now, they’re still living in the pain of the past. You know, whether it be slavery, whether it be trauma inside the family, whatever it may be, you know, just still living locked up and caged up. And there’s so much, that’s one of the things that really hurt me, man. I see people with so much beauty inside of them, and it’s like they’re still bitter from the past, bitter at what mom did, or who didn’t do this, and who didn’t do that.
Like I told you earlier, I don’t think I told you, but I was born in the Bahamas in 1963. And when I was 13 years old, my mother and my aunt came to the Bahamas. And them two, I guess sat down and talked, and the next thing you know, I was coming over to America. At 13 years old, and I end up in junior high of all places. You know, junior high is not easy, and I’m getting picked at, and I’m teased, and everything. I got this Bahamian accent, and I was I was already the big head kid in my country. And I come over here and I’m getting picked at, and teased at, they calling me all kinds of big-head names and everything like that.
So that kind of uh, that kind of like, traumatized me in a way too, you know, and pushed me inside of a in a hole and made me so insecure about myself. And I came over here and I lived with my aunt and she was a educator, an assistant principal of a school, an educated woman. And she wanted me to get an education, she wanted the best for me, her and my mother. But I was so still so trapped up in my own emotional pain and everything like that, I couldn’t take advantage of the opportunity to get an education. So I lived in that cloud choosing maybe not the best friends, choosing getting in the wrong relationships, or not ready for relationships, and just being tossed to and fro from place to place and uh, just living in the pain of the past.
So I couldn’t really take advantage- and a lot of people – it’s like, how can you really take advantage of opportunities when you’re still living in pain and bitterness and all of that, you know. So I grew up here, you know, going to school and just dealing with a whole different country and a whole different culture, which was not easy. And there’s a lot of people in Miami just like that, you know, they came over from Cuba, wherever like that and now you have to get adjusted and simulated into this American culture, you know. So I went through that pain of just being in that transition. And just, yeah, that’s a big part of my story.
Sarai: When we visited Camillus House, we had a tour around the facilities and we have the opportunity to meet a few people that used to be clients at Camillus House, and then they graduated from the program and they’re now using their time to volunteer at Camillus House, to pretty much return the favor, l would say, and to help others. And I think that touched many of us, because hearing directly from these people, hearing their experiences and seeing how they help others after everything they went through, that gives you a different perspective of things. And you learn to appreciate more what you have and how to use that to help others. And especially when we got to meet Gary and go to the HeArt Center, we felt immediately connected.
Leesa: So employees have to feel like they’re using their best skills in order to make a real impact. At OnPoint, we connected with the creative side of Gary’s mission, and that aligned with what we already do every day as a company.
Marcos: I think it left an impact on pretty much all of us. I know that afterwards I went and asked the person we were working with for his contact info. Just hearing him talk and hearing, you know, his expression, and how his unique experiences sort of enclosed him as an artist were really interesting to me.
Binta: Yeah, I mean honestly I was in tears after hearing his experience. I think one thing that stuck with me, because it’s a metaphor, using the egg in a cage as kind of like a metaphor for untapped potential. And he used that term, I think, untapped potential. And just hearing that and seeing of people around the artwork that they created or he created, I could see that that was something I was missing, and I think is missing from a lot of charitable works.
We were so inspired by Gary, and could clearly see the link between our mission to empower and the untapped potential Gary wanted to access in his clients at the HeArt Room.
Carlos: And that’s one of the challenges that we have, is in the future. Like I had that newer employee, the Junior Writer who was asking “How are we going to get involved in the future?” And I sat down and told him you know, we have this project going on and it’s exciting, but we don’t know how that’s going to affect everybody. Because with things like Days of Impact or you know, going out to do a beach cleanup, or paint a school, or build a community garden, it’s very easy to involve everyone. You just kind of make it a mandatory thing that everyone has to show up that day, but when you’re establishing a partnership like this there are questions as to how are you going to involve everybody? Because this isn’t just a small commitment. This isn’t just saying well, let’s all show up to Camillus House and clean up again.
Besides providing the website where we’re going to be showcasing the HeArt Room’s artwork and creative endeavors, expressions and different pieces, we plan on having a mentorship program as well. And so far we’ve been thinking for people who are interested in graphic design, people who are interested in podcast or broadcast work, who are interested in making videos, people who are interested in poetry, writing, journalism, reporting, things that we specialize in here in this company.
But those are long-standing relationships, these mentorship programs. So then, how are we going to implement that so that we include everyone in the company and not just make with this core team of people for doing all the work. And those are questions remain to be answered. Right now we’re still at the beginning stages of this. It’s exciting.
Leesa: Gary is an example for all of us. He found a way to tap into his own potential, and use the skills and materials he already had. Here’s Gary talking about his progression as an artist.
Gary: I can remember a situation, just tying into this whole Camillus House. It was in 2006, I was living in Overtown in this house that was kind of a semi-abandoned. It was actually a friend of mines, a friend of his mother had a house in Overtown. It was one of those old shotgun houses they call in Overtown, and I ended up staying there from 2006 to 2010. And I was working at a grocery store at the time, and they got a bunch of these shopping carts in, and they were in these cardboards right, these big cardboards.
And I took like a bunch of those cardboards, and I took it inside that house and I just started just painting. It was like I was just, everything was coming up, my story. Before that I was painting a little bit here and there, but my whole my story started coming out, everything I guess that I was running from or dealing with internally. I just started, I lined all those cardboards up around that house and I just started painting, and painting, and painting. That was like, in 2006.
Binta: Although one day of service can be meaningful, it’s even more impactful to use the skills and the expertise that we have as a company to provide lasting resources and change in our community. And that’s what we decided to do. We’re still in the beginning stages of our relationship with the HeArt Room, but we’re excited to see it grow.
Leesa: Thanks for listening to our first episode! We hope you enjoyed it. We’d love to connect with you and hear about how you’re reaching your own untapped potential. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also check out our website, OnPointGlobal.com, and follow us on Instagram, @OnPointGlobalHQ.