Monday, January 25, 2010

55th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,

They Are As Good As We Think
How an individual—or an organization for that matter—faces and fixes errors is probably the best indicator of that individual’s true character. On the other hand, if the sailing is always smooth in a relationship one can never predict outcomes when storm winds begin to blow.

Back on November 29, George on 12th Street gave me a Community Food Bank credit card donation form for $100 to deliver on Monday. Howard and Keith my friends in the warehouse knew what I had but they had not processed one recently. After some back and forth, they did what they always do with cash and check donations, they placed it in an envelope and deposited it in the drop safe near the receptionist. That was that…or so I thought.

On the 14th of January George saw me on the street and stopped me. He said he had not received a receipt from the Community Food Bank for his donation I dropped off in November. Later that day I sent an email to Pauline Hechler, VP of Development and she responded to George in a matter of minutes and shortly there after to me.

“We’re running about two weeks behind on receipts, Peter. This time of year is tough, as some days we have had as many as 1,000 gifts. I have left George a message thanking him for his patience.

P.S. During normal times, we have receipts and thank-yous out within 48 hours.”

Perfect customer service, I thought and got on with things. Last Thursday I received a call from the Community Food Bank accounting office and was told they could not find the donation form and they looked everywhere. I said to the young lady that I would talk to Howard and Keith on Monday and try to get some answers. And of course on Sunday I ran into George again. He’s a true gentleman and quiet business like which means non answers don’t sit well with him. And since I had no answers, I wasn’t too comfortable talking about the lost donation form. I told George I would discuss the situation with the folks in the warehouse on Monday and try to come up with a resolution.

Right after the weigh-in I asked both Howard and Keith if they remembered the donation form. And they did, right down to the last detail. Howard had talked to accounting last week and told Keith to call right now to get a definitive answer. Keith did. They could not locate the donation form and surmised that it was discarded and shredded along with other financial materials. They always shred their documents and papers. So the donation form is gone forever.

I was really impressed with how Howard and Keith took command of the situation and remembered the entire episode. They reminded me of the corporate executive who was asked why he never took notes in meetings. He replied, “I don’t have to, I never lie.”

On the way home from teaching a computer lesson I stopped by George’s home and relayed my conversations with the Community Food Bank staff. I said there is no way to make him feel better because the donation form was lost. I suggested he could call his credit card company and get a new number. He said he wasn’t bothered anymore and then asked me to wait. When he returned he handed me a check for $100 made out to the Community Food Bank.

As we parted I said I would personally walk the check through and get him his donation receipt. This made him smile. I’m glad it did but I am serious about the walking thing and have an appointment to meet Pauline at 9 am.

Like most people in the world, I’m not fond of confrontations but I’m glad I had this one. I’m really fond of the Community Food Bank and all of the folks who work there. They make me proud to know them mostly because they really do have character.

Saturdays, Rain or Shine
John Abbott, son of Ron and Kelly Abbott, the owners of the Rincon Market, called me last Wednesday to say they were going to go with One Can A Week. That meant Saturday morning I could set up our One Can A Week display table at 9 am right by the door on the self serve restaurant side and wait for folks to stop by and chat. Shortly after 9, Mavis Collins asked for some literature which she took to her table. Then Richard, her husband walked over to talk to me about a virus his computer had because he learned I was a computer instructor in the article Mavis gave him to read. It was such a nasty virus I couldn’t help him much except to suggest he talk to the folks at SWS on Speedway.

While Richard and I spoke, a lady on her way out of the door asked me if I took change as a donation and when I said yes, she immediately turned her purse over and dumped lots of coins in the green box on the table. Later I counted it…$4.01, mostly in quarters and dimes.

Mavis came back and told me a story about how her dad collected donations for his church and he always “primed the pump” so to speak and placed a few of his bills and coins in the collection basket. She suggested I show some cans on the table which I did right away.

Since I noticed cash donations were out stripping the food donations, I also put out a plate displaying a handful of that lady’s change and a dollar bill. The very next donation was a $20 bill.

After his breakfast, another gentleman walked over and said he had a few cans in the car and would go get them. He came right back but I did not have the heart to tell him that he was supposed to buy his donated cans in the grocery store on the other side of the restaurant. I guess it’ll just take a little time for folks to make the connection.

For lunch I ordered a very tasty turkey sandwich and sat at a table about 15 feet from our display. As I looked around at the other diners in the restaurant I realized that this was going to be a very pleasant way to spend a Saturday collecting food and donations for the Community Food Bank. The best part is I never have to be concerned about the weather.

On this first Saturday we collected $33.01 in cash, two Campbell soup cans and one good suggestion.

A 576 Pound Team Effort
With the help of the Axis Food Mart on Broadway and Barbara’s
70 lbs. of bananas,
the Miles Neighborhood topped 576 lbs. in food donations this week which is our best so far. It is 62.5 lbs. ahead of our past record of 531.5 lbs. set on November 16, 2009. We also handed in $11 in cash. Isn’t it great…the longer we stay in business the more impact we have.

See you Sunday,


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