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April 25, 2017
April 25, 2017
Reach out, reach in, reach up. This motto is the mission of Shinola’s REACH committee and is what inspired its creation back in 2015. The ten-person group aims to serve the local Detroit community, strengthen the internal work environment, and in doing so, unite the two to create a Shinola family that extends beyond the factory doors.
REACH began after Shinola’s donation to The Citypack Project sparked a relationship with Burners Without Borders – an organization that provides the homeless with backpacks of essential items. After seeing photos of team members coming together to fill backpacks, Shinola creative director Daniel Caudill recognized that the company could do even more with community building. Thus, REACH was born.
“We really want to reach all areas so it’s not just community outreach, but it’s also internal,” says Tiffany Daniel, HR business partner and REACH member. “I think that’s just where it came from. The idea of reaching out, reaching in, reaching up.”
Shinola audio engineer Dextina Booker speaks to local elementary school students.
Fundraising efforts become community-building activities through REACH and because of this, the team at Shinola is able to raise money throughout the year to positively impact Detroiters. One such way is by adopting a Thirkell Elementary-Middle School family during the holidays and gifting them with winter necessities, toys and home goods.
The family opens gifts at Shinola headquarters in a room overflowing with tears, hugs and an incredibly strong sense of community as the team witness the joy their efforts produced. “Employees get to see what [the fundraising] is for,” says Tiffany. “This family becomes a part of the Shinola family.”
Watch line supervisor Willie Holley talkling to elementary school students.
Packing backpacks with Burners Without Borders is another initiative that REACH continues to facilitate each year. Socks, hygiene products and non-perishables are collected and stuffed into hundreds of backpacks by Shinola volunteers, who then distribute them. Assisting in the packing and distributing process is Brian Ambrozy, senior community manager and REACH committee member.
“It’s really, really rewarding,” says Brian. “The fact that we all help make this possible makes me fall in love with this company all over again.”
Members of the REACH committee serving summer lunch at Crossroads.
Over the summer, Shinola volunteers at a local food pantry by hosting a lunch for neighborhood kids in need. Shinola ensures the kids enjoy a good meal, and the kids ensure everyone has a blast.
“About 20 employees go to a shelter and we get in the kitchen, we start cooking, we serve food to the kids and it’s a great time,” says Brian. “Spending the day with a bunch of kids is fun, especially when they’re happy.”
Additionally, employees can roll up their sleeves – and get a little dirty – by planting trees through The Greening of Detroit. For those hoping to avoid the dirt, bake sales and bottle drives are additional ways employees are encouraged to unite in support of the community.
REACH recognizes that in the midst of frequent fundraising, it’s critical to also focus on promoting a healthy, happy environment for employees. These solely internal REACH events include company bike rides (to encourage fitness), chili cook offs (cheat days are necessary), and the company picnic.
Shinola's adopted family.
“Our picnic is the best because it’s really everybody coming together and mingling,” says Cora Alexander, REACH member and Shinola security. “The owners and the president and our CFO were referees for the flag football game at that. It was a beautiful feeling to see them out there.”
The picnic also holds a talent show where in the past, employees – and their kids – have performed dances, musical numbers, and even magic routines.
The final component of REACH’s mission is to “reach up.” This is their dedication to continued growth, which includes discovering new ways to serve the community and unite the team within. They hope to adopt multiple families in the future and to expand involvement in more local Detroit organizations.
“I absolutely love doing all of these events,” says Brian. “The idea is that we’re supposed to grow together as a Shinola family. That is really important to the REACH committee.”
This article is part of Shinola's 2017 #RollUpOurSleeves campaign that features people from across the nation who have rolled up their sleeves, made an impact in their communities and proved that hard work creates jobs and new opportunities. Read other stories, here.