Our workday tasks are often focused on our internal initiatives. Completing deadlines and projects are paramount to our organizational success. Something happened to me this week that reminded me of the importance of stepping outside of those boundaries.
Wednesday night when I got home, I found a gift bag hanging on the front door. My first thought went to a dear friend who has been known to drop off a surprise treat from time to time. After getting settled in the house, I dug in to the bag, and found something very different from I expected. Wrapped neatly in two small brown bags with a twine bow, I discovered a bundle of pumpkin-peanut butter dog bone shaped biscuits, accompanied by a beautifully crafted card. It read: “Dear puppy friend and neighbors: THANK YOU! At MCELC, we’d like to thank you for greeting us on our walks and bringing smiles to all the children’s faces! It was the highlight of our walks! From your Friends at Monadnock Community Early Learning Center.” The colorful card adorned the imprint of a child’s hand, painted to look like a turkey. It was creative, genuine, and heartwarming.
I was struck by the impact of this simple and generous gesture. The surprise acknowledgement and outreach from this organization made me realize how important it is to open doors of conversation beyond our own walls. It helps us see and understand the larger picture of our own neighborhoods, which extend way beyond any geographic boundaries. The teachers’ compassion for Grace helps to opens the child’s mind to different experiences by others — canine and human.
The daycare center, located about 1/4 mile down the street from our house, brings the children down for excursions. The road is perfect for a walk, as it is infrequently traveled by cars and lined mostly with woods. Whenever they come, Grace can hear the voices and squeals of the children long before I can, as it makes her nervous and anxious. To calm Grace, I pick her up in my arms, hold her at the front door, softly whispering how much the children love her. The kids giggle and wave, exclaiming: “Look at the cute puppy!!” “There’s the puppy!” and “Hello, Puppy!”
Despite Grace’s discomfort, she lets her uneasiness become quiet, allowing the children to find their joy. Remarkably, the children have some awareness of her unease, supported by teachers who offer appropriate suggestions to help guide them.
I called this morning to say thanks, and learned that the daycare center designated November as the Month of Giving. For the children too young to write, they offered their hands and feet for the cards. Older kids made the decisions on who to thank. Each day, the children delivered a customized gift and thank you for someone they appreciate. Recipients ranged from individuals to businesses who make a difference in their lives, some in very small ways, such as what Grace has done for them.
It would have been easy for this daycare center to keep their time and energy focused internally. But they understand that the world isn’t just about them. It’s about the relationships that are developed and enriched with those outside their own walls, including neighbors that they hadn’t even formally met before.
In today’s business climate, lots of companies have a pared down physical presence due to expanded telecommuting options. Yet every organization, no matter how big or small, is part of some community. Finding ways to develop caring relationships in that community brings back more in return, though it may not often seem worth the time when faced with pressing internal demands. But when organizations can give, with nothing expected in return, everyone benefits. It doesn’t have to be big. Or complex. Or time-consuming. It can be accomplished one dog biscuit at a time.