Friendship House Meadowlands Media Meadowlands Chamber
Friendship House Meadowlands Media Meadowlands Chamber

Sow Sprinkles of Kindness, Reap Business Success

A little kindness goes a long way — for people, and also for businesses. Research shows that businesses with a reputation for kindness are 35 percent more likely to double their earnings before interest, tax and amortization (EBITDA). That’s some food for thought!

At the monthly Meadowlands Chamber networking meeting on Feb. 15, we asked members to share with us their stories of kindness — times when their company or an individual extended some kind of outreach just because.

We’ll share our story at the end. But first, here is what some of our members have recalled that helped another and tugged at their own heartstrings — and ours too!

Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament, Lyndhurst, shared by Group Sales Manager Kati Meier

Medieval Times in New Jersey is the top Field Trip Castle out of all of our 10 castles. The end of last year, we had a local elementary school attend and afterwards I had received a call from one of the teachers.

The teacher had explained that a young boy who attended with his class that day, had suffered the imaginable a few weeks prior to the field trip. He was in a car accident and his dad and brother passed away, while the young boy survived.

The field trip here, was the first time the child was able to step onto a bus without hesitation, and from the moment he stepped inside it, he had a smile on his face the entire time. The magic of our show seemed to help transport him for that short amount of time and help get that smile.

The teachers story moved me and our team so much. Medieval Times was happy to donate tickets and t-shirts to his family to come back to enjoy our show again.

I am a local Lyndhurst resident and for both myself and Medieval Times, being apart and supporting the local community is one of our top priorities.

School of Rock Carlstadt, Shared by Dominique Abita and Dave Santamaria

School of Rock Carlstadt has opened their hearts to the students and families of the neighboring communities.

Since we have opened, we have given scholarships to students in need, we have encouraged students to make music with others, and we have given free music clinics at the local public schools.

Our reward has been seeing these students come out of their shells and find their musical voice at School of Rock Carlstadt.

Allstate Dan Meredith Agency Submitted by Dan Meredith

The world is a beautiful mix of good and bad that flows like water, one day you’re up and the next you’re down. For most of us, this is life, and we move on, but for so many people, the world can be very cruel and become a prison that seems to have no escape.

I truly believe in looking inside yourself and giving from the heart to those who need an act of kindness to be reminded that they are not alone and that other people care enough to make sure they find the help they need, so they can see the world from the lighter side and move on to feel the love of giving from the heart to someone else someday.

As I said above, the world is beautiful but can be seen in two ways. Some people need acts of kindness brought to them to see that in an ugly world, there is beauty living in and around everything. When we look at the world wholeheartedly and spread love, the beauty grows, and cruelty becomes only a reminder to look deeper and share more kindness.

As a business owner, I’ve found that many charities will ask for help and sponsorships. You want to respond to them all but in reality, there is no way to help everyone at the same time. Giving always feels good, but sometimes feels even better when you all of a sudden find yourself doing more than just sponsoring a great cause but rolling up your sleeves and getting involved in the well-being of real people on the other side of a charity that has touched your heart.

Center for Hope and Safety is one of those for me. Almost 8 years ago now, my agency sponsored a small domestic violence awareness event. At first, it was just another feel-good event sponsorship with a table for our business to set up and showcase ourselves, in the hopes of helping yes, but also finding some new business prospects.

At this event, I was introduced to the Director of Development at the time of Center of Hope and Safety. After spending the day working the event together with her and learning more about their organization, I found that I didn’t know anything about domestic violence except for stereotypical narrow-minded views that the public tends to find uncomfortable to talk about, let alone admitting that this very real problem exists in their own backyards. At this time something sparked, and I felt the need to help change that opinion and advocate for awareness of the real stories and the very many different types of domestic violence.

We immediately changed our reason for helping from business prospecting to learning more about the many signs of domestic violence and getting to know how to effectively help this local organization. Being an Allstate agent I was able to connect with the Allstate Foundation, whose primary mission is to End Domestic Violence and educate the public as well as the victim.

The Allstate Foundation invited me to fly to Chicago to take a two-week course in learning the signs of domestic violence and how to educate those affected and their family and friends on how to get out and stay out of these relationships, which can be very complicated. This increased the relationship between Center for Hope and Safety and our agency and gave us both a better understanding of how we can best work together and be effective.

Within a short period, we were helping Center for Hope and Safety with clothing and supply drives to be used in the headquarters and many safehouses around Bergen County. We created fundraisers and offered financial literacy curriculum to those affected by domestic violence.

Through time with the help of the Allstate Foundation, we’ve also been able to secure over $100,000 in grants to directly go to work in Center for Hope and Safety to support their mission and the day-to-day expenses required to help our friends and neighbors affected by domestic violence in Bergen County.

Lastly, why this story?

Helping Center for Hope and Safety in the fight against domestic violence has touched our hearts and still to this day when we give, it is passionately from the heart and never gets old. We hope this story will inspire others to keep an open heart, be kind to all, and maybe someday find their own story of charity and kindness to tell.

Friendship House, submitted by Cindy Capitani and Marianne Axon, Meadowlands Chamber

Cupcakes are agents of change and if anyone doubts this fact, we challenge you to bring a decorating demo into any nonprofit working with children, senior citizens, developmentally challenged individuals — anyone, really. Cupcakes really do take the cake!

When we headed to Friendship House in Hackensack, accompanied by three of our four high school interns, we didn’t really know what to expect. Marianne, a New Jersey Cupcake Wars winner and celebrity baker (when she’s not planning and executing events for the MC) had the know-how and the tools. But it was a first time experience for all of us.

The MC supports numerous charitable endeavors and our nonprofit members like Friendship House are important to us as an organization, and also to our corporates large and small. What Friendship House accomplishes every day is a service to the adult clients they serve as well as their families and communities at large. It’s hard to even quantify what organizations like Friendship House do for the well being and betterment of all involved.

Friendship House Director of Special Events and Communications Kathy English coordinated this special event that gave clients at the center on Valentine’s Day a hands-on cupcake decorating program. Everyone learned how to use a pastry bag and took home a decorated cupcake they created. Clients also took turns decorating the double-tiered cake Marianne made, adding chocolate ganache, sprinkles, edible spray glitter (a BIG hit), real roses (also edible) and French macarons.

It was an event to remember for everyone involved. Those masterpiece cupcakes were created with so much love, it was a joy for all.