Giving Back To The Community
I’ve said it before and I’ll proudly say it again: The dance industry TRULY has a special kind of ecosystem. Where else do you see so much support among suppliers or business owners sharing ideas at conferences or studios offering unique services in the community, even during the roller coaster of a global pandemic? When I see the amazing things other companies are doing, I sometimes find myself literally cheering out loud in front of the computer!
One of those companies is A Wish Come True, which is a Legacy Partner here at More Than Just Great Dancing®. I remember first hearing about how, in the spring of 2020, they had switched their manufacturing line from costumes to masks. Then, they kept DONATING all of the newly-made masks to area hospitals. The result? Hospitals had a fresh supply of masks for their patrons even when other supplies were low, and Wish designers and sewers stayed employed performing essential work.
Renée Stojek, A Wish Come True’s Marketing Director of 18 years, says that this effort was an extension of a key tenet within the business: giving back to the community. Beyond those heroic mask-making efforts of 2020, the company has a long-standing charitable giving campaign called “A Wish for Better.” Renée says the campaign is simply reflective of how they work at Wish—yes, they take pride in creating excellent costumes and offering top-notch customer service AND they take pride in prioritizing the interests of the community, via their employees.
“Our culture isn’t top-down,” Renée explains. “It’s employee-led. We want them to bring their personal culture into the work culture.” By that, Renée says, she means that the company wants to support and bring awareness to causes that are meaningful to its people. For example, one year, an intern named Devon suggested that A Wish for Better hold a pet supply drive. Devon volunteered at the Humane Society and could see first-hand a great need for things like food, blankets, toys, and treats. The pet supply drive was a huge success—and led to other successful fundraisers, such as food drives, coat drives, and Toys for Tots, where toys are collected and given to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
A Wish for Better came from a heart-space. “Giving back in an individualized, personal, family-oriented way is special,” Renée shares, noting that A Wish Come True is a family-run company. “It’s very organic.” The process for employees to share or nominate a cause is informal, allowing ideas to come from anyone, anytime.
That heart-space couldn’t be more clear than it is now with an upcoming event that A Wish for Better is planning for 2022. This one—a Light the Night event—will honor the memory of former Wish Design Director Besty Skaroff, who recently passed away from acute leukemia. Light the Night events are held to support survivors, recognize battles lost, and raise funds for leukemia and lymphoma research.
Renée really got me thinking about how work culture and giving back are so intertwined—and how important it is that we tap into our employees for ideas and suggestions when it comes to lifting up the community and raising awareness around big causes. How much MORE can we all do, if we listen to each other and place value on each other’s interests?
And that is where I think we circle back to the strength of our industry’s ecosystem. We ALL have this potential to do greater, bigger, more impactful things when we feel heard and supported.
So, I want to leave you with a few philosophical questions: Where are you finding opportunities to connect with your employees and the causes that are meaningful to them? In what charitable ways will your organization grow its positive influence in the community BECAUSE of those connections? Where will YOU wish for better?
Remember: there’s ACTION behind every wish, to make it come true. 🙂