My international travel experience has mainly been service oriented: one three-week project in Rome, Italy, one in Belize, Central America, and a four month return to Belize to teach. My fondest memories you ask, besides seeing firsthand strikingly beautiful landscapes and larger-than-life historic monuments? Working with my team and giving back to the local community…making balloon animals for the refugee children in Rome…painting a rebuilt hurricane-destroyed building in San Pedro Columbia, Belize…handing out clothing and shoes to the village children in Punta Gorda, Belize…building the foundation of a school in Belmopan, Belize…and later teaching high school English in that same school.
You can never fully understand and appreciate the power of a giving heart until you have reached rock bottom and someone extends a helping hand to you. Believe me, I know, all too well. I’ve been on the giving side, empathizing with people who are hurting, and I’ve been on the receiving side, allowing people to bring comfort to my heart. What each circumstance has taught me is that we all face pain, loneliness, and loss at one time or another.
I have to be honest with you. I am daily encouraged to see corporations write social responsibility clauses on their websites and include a community outreach element into their domestic and international meetings and incentives. While an incentive program to Hawaii sounds wonderful, think what it would do for the community if you spent the afternoon building bikes or filling backpacks with school essentials for local under-privileged students? What about a meeting to Scottsdale? Spend the afternoon painting murals for the walls of the oncology wing at a local hospital. It takes so little time out of your scheduled plan to assist those in need, and like my co-worker Laurel wrote earlier this year in her blog, Practice Random Acts of Kindness, the action does not have to be big to have a transcending effect on both you and the people you help.
As the mom of two under four, I’m daily exposed to all things Disney, and as I was preparing to write this blog, a song from Lion King II: Simba’s Pride (1998) came to mind. It’s called “We Are One” (written by Marty Panzer and Mark Feldman). Although the song focuses on the relationship between lion Simba and his daughter Kiara, I think the lyrics can apply more broadly to the human race:
And the one thing we know
Is things don’t always go
The way we planned
But you’ll see every day
That we’ll never turn away
When it seems all your dreams are undone
We will stand by your side
Filled with hope and filled with pride
We are more than we are
We are one
If we are one, we should be able to walk life together with everyone we meet, even if we are with them for just a short time. But, the power of community is inspiring. We hold in our hands the ability to lift up those in need and to create a lifetime impact that will certainly affect future generations.
For your next meeting or incentive, consider adding in an outreach element to your itinerary. Not only will you be creating change within the community you are visiting, you will be inspiring change and creating pride in your participants as they give their time to help those in need.
JNR has successfully facilitated a variety of community outreach programs over the years, from painting schools and building bikes, to painting children’s shoes and donating supplies to local shelters. We like to think that we are ambassadors for our community—the world. If you’re looking for a creative way to inspire your participants during your next meeting or incentive, please contact us at 949.476.2788 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to work alongside you.
Written by Katharine Heinz
Katharine Heinz has been with JNR for nine years, first as a Desktop Publisher and now as the Planning Business Administrator. When she is not researching the next hot destination or hotel, she can be found at home enjoying her family.
JNR Incorporated is a results-based, globally recognized leader that specializes in creating custom travel, meeting, event, prepaid card and merchandise programs that motivate, engage and inspire the employees, customers and channel members of our clients. We have over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies of many diverse industries. Our programs are tailored to fit the specific needs of marketing, sales, management and human resource professionals. The unique solutions we apply are measurable and proven to increase performance, loyalty and revenues.