Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Gifts That Give Twice

The tag line on the Reaching Out logo is " Gifts that Give Twice". What it means is that every gift purchased in the store or on-line is not only a beautiful gift for friends and family, but a gift to the disabled person who has crafted and perhaps designed the item...a gift of independence and empowerment.

We are finding that the circle of giving includes gifts to us, in many ways. It is a priviledge to offer our talents to the endeavours of this social business and we are also proud to deliver the support from our Journey of the Heart home team.

Today we were part of the Reaching Out Annual Staff Meeting. What a celebration it was! We celebrated the fact that the revenues far exceeded the targets set by the teams for 2009. We celebrated again the two weddings and two births which caused Quyen to jokingly suggest that the next development for the business might have to be a day care centre. We celebrated the release of a video which portrays the story of our business and is being used to encourage other self help groups throughout Vietnam.

Bruce and I were delighted that a significant agenda item was the presentation of gifts from Journey of the Heart. Thanks to Suzanne and Jeff, a new kitchen facility and renovations to the bathroom will improve working conditions for the 45 people who are now employed at this location. Everyday the whole crew is fed an amazingly fresh and healthy lunch from the tiny space pictured above. ( we couldn't get near the bathroom to take a photo....the one commode is always busy!)

Jo An and Michel have once again supported new important as Binh and Quyen contemplate the opening of another workshop, so that they can include more persons of disability in the business.

As many of our readers and followers know, Jeff and Michel were Elaine's mentors at A&W and we are so lucky that our friendships have endured, as have those with their wives, Suzanne and JoAn.

We watched Binh conducting this important meeting covering all of the pertinent financial data; the reports from his team leaders on their progress towards their targets; the honoring of outstanding performers; the "fatherly" guidance to staff about responsibly managing their sizable bonuses; the pride in seeing the success of their careful planning and decision making based on values. This is truly amazing for this small band of disabled people in Vietnam, where Western business practises are not widely known or applied, never mind some some fairly progressive ideas of involvement and ownership.

We were both struck by the significace that we were delivering expertise which our business realtionships had nurtured AND the love and trust of extraordiary friends. We know that these home team supporters of our Jouney of the Heart were there with us in spirit. Their "gifts have given twice."

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