For the past three years I have been the marketing manager for Community Affairs. Helping customers understand our deep-rooted commitment to the community is what I do. At TELUS ‘We Give Where We Live.’ I’ve been writing, saying and singing this philosophy for three years, but on May 6th, I really felt what it truly means.
As a part of our recent campaign – Give Where We Live – we want to help our customers support causes that matter to them. We posted a question on our Facebook page inviting fans to tell us how they would give back to their community. The response was overwhelming, with over 200 replies; but one in particular really stood out. Michelle Reynen, a young mom in Surrey, B.C., told us that she would continue to help feed the people in the mobile home park she manages as many of them are unable to purchase enough food to last them the entire month. We were so moved by Michelle’s selfless generosity that we knew we needed to lend a hand.
On May 6, 12 TELUS volunteers packed into installer vans and headed out to see Michelle. The first stop on our journey was a quick 6:30 a.m. trip to Superstore to buy 30 overflowing boxes of food: vegetables, fruit, pasta, soup, rice, milk, cheese, we got it all. As we headed to see Michelle I was overcome with nervousness. I have always given back to my community through donations. Going onto a website, paying with my credit card; my community support has always been slightly removed. This was the first time I was volunteering my time and I didn’t know what to expect.
From the minute we stepped out of the van, we were greeted with huge smiles from Michelle and her family. Spending the morning sorting and packing over 15 hampers, we got to experience Michelle’s kind spirit firsthand. The next step was the delivery, where we accompanied Michelle as she visited her neighbours’ homes to drop off a month’s worth of food and Superstore gift cards. Watching each reaction of sheer joy and thankfulness over food, something I have come to take for granted, I was not only overcome with emotion, but I also began to see my responsibility, all of our responsibility, to take care of those around us.
As a thank you to Michelle, we left her with a deep freezer stocked with month’s worth of meat and a BBQ so her family and the park residents could enjoy outdoor eating in the warm summer months. To many of us these are commodities, something we’ve always had in our homes and never stopped to truly be grateful for. For Michelle, they meant over six months of dinners, 181 days of full stomachs, and 4,344 hours of not worrying about those who didn’t have enough food in a day.
It has been said that doing and watching acts of kindness releases serotonin in peoples’ brains and in turn actually makes people happier and more kind. This spirit of generosity seems to be almost contagious. I witnessed this first hand as my team and I returned to work in the days following our trip to Surrey. We were happier, more helpful towards each other and just overall more positive.
I have never been more thankful or more proud to be a TELUS team member. Because of TELUS’ heartfelt commitment to our communities, I was able to experience that life-changing day with Michelle and her neighbours. I was also able to help launch the Give Where We Live campaign – a $100,000 initiative that encourages Canadians to show us how they give back in their community. It’s simple, our new photo contest can be found at givewherewelive.ca and it invites you to upload a photo, using the hashtag #givewherewelive, showing how you give back to your community for a chance to win one of ten $10,000 donations for your favorite charity! Our hope is that this campaign will inspire a movement of kindness and a massive serotonin release amongst all our Canadian neighbours.
My godmother once told me: “live your life to serve and life will serve you.” I believe this now with all my heart. It doesn’t have to be big, it doesn’t have to be every day, but it does have to be a conscious attitude of service. One million small things add up to something big. Imagine if we all did one small thing to give back.
We give where we live – now I don’t just say it, I embody it.
Check out the video of our day with Michelle here: