“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Meade, cultural anthropologist
If we look closely at our own communities we may be pleasantly surprised and proud of the many businesses that are doing well in their business and using their success to help their own communities. In my home town, Cleveland, Ohio I found a few deserving of attention and I’m sure there are hundreds more. I’d like to start a campaign to get everyone to notice those businesses who are doing well by doing good, so I’ve chosen to start by citing a few impressive ones in my backyard.
Helping maintain dignity
Michele Kaminsky, owner of Mika’s Wig Boutique and Spa established her business as a “gift” to the community, providing a private setting for women to try on wigs as well as a salon and spa. Women who experience hair loss are already enduring considerable emotional stress. Michele said, “My goal is to create a positive, dignified experience for all women who chose to wear a wig, may it be for fashion, religious reasons or due to hair loss from illness”. Since opening in 2013 Mika’s has served over 1,400 clients for wigs, wig care and other hair coverings. Michele puts all of her profits back into the business and doesn’t take a salary.
When a community member falls ill
The Gathering Place, a cancer wellness and support center with locations in Westlake and Beachwood. “We are 100 percent privately funded, so the support we get from small businesses help us do our work in supporting individuals and families who are touched by cancer. Also, it’s a “win-win” for businesses who support our work as people like to do business with companies that are giving back to their community.” Kris Austin, Director Community Relations and Marketing.
Helping charitable organizations to help others
Sherrie Foxman’s party planning business, Party 411, gives generously of her expertise to local charities. Foxman says, “Because a portion of my business is coordinating events for non-profits, I get involved with many charities that are small and not well-funded. “Many are doing their first event or need assistance and visibility but they can’t afford a planner and are at a loss on how to raise funds efficiently”.
Being a friend
The Friendship Circle aims to provide children and teenagers with special needs with social and recreational opportunities to help them acquire self-esteem and lead a productive adult lifestyle. They also provide their parents with much needed respite and support. “The recruitment of hundreds of volunteer teenagers to administer these services creates a snowball effect whereby these young community members learn the benefits of giving back early on”. Estie Morozov, Program Director.
A One Woman Thrift Shop
Hannah Appel runs a one-woman operation from her Beachwood home that provides clothing, household goods, furniture, dishes and cookware, toys, books and more. Her efforts touch more than 300 Jewish families weekly. “It’s all about keeping our eyes open to the needs of those around us,” Appel said in an interview.
Doing good with their dough
Orlando baking company began as a small bakery in Italy in 1872, and continually looks for creative ways to give back to the local community. “We believe in the work of the Hunger Network of Greater Cleveland and are proud to be one of the founding sponsors of the network’s annual fundraiser. The city of Cleveland supports our family, so we want to support the city of Cleveland, and that’s one way we can do it. It’s amazing that with the assistance of 1,000 volunteers, it feeds 60,000 people every month”.
John Anthony Orlando, Executive V.P. of Operations
A community centered business climate
Bo Burlingham, author of Small Giants: Businesses that Choose to Be Great Instead of Big, says, great businesses have “mojo,” which he describes as “the corporate equivalent of charisma in a person…Companies with mojo have a quality that make people want to be part of them.” He notes that invariably these “giants” emerge out of confidence in, and clarity about, their founder’s decision to put other goals ahead of revenue or geographical growth.
Real change is created thanks to the cumulative efforts of many. “One of the key elements of mojo is that a successful small company is deeply rooted in the fabric of its local community. It has what the French winemakers call terroir, the flavor of the soil in which it grew.” This relationship with the community goes far beyond the usual concept of “giving back,” he says, to become very much a two-way street. “The community helps mould the character of the business, just as the companies play an important role in the life of the community.”
Organizations that want to bring about social change don’t have to be big to make a difference. The leaders just need to ask the right questions and seek partners in the communities directly affected by their cause. When we collaborate as a community to alleviate stress in our communities, we strengthen our businesses, our city, and ourselves. May it be Cleveland, Ohio, St. Louis, Detroit or L.A., there is great pride in what’s going well in our own cities and spreading the word could have a positive effect that’s contagious.