Better Than Most is a regular feature of The Business of Giving, examining the best places to work among social good businesses and nonprofit organizations.
Denver: For this edition of Better Than Most, we’ll be heading out to Colorado Springs and the home of Compassion International, a child advocacy ministry pairing compassionate people with children living in extreme poverty. And those who work there are quite passionate about the organization and its mission.
Brenda: I am here for the mission. I love children, and that was my initial reason for even applying at Compassion.
Andre: What makes me most proud about working at Compassion? As I sit here, I look around the room and I see these photos of these children on the wall. And that just explains what we’re all about. When you walk through the building, I don’t think there’s a place in this whole entire facility where you could be without seeing a face of a child. A couple of months ago, back in July, I went to Guatemala. It wasn’t my first trip, but for some reason, that trip was the most rewarding one for me. There’s nothing like getting able to see in person what’s your work, the outcome of your labor is doing on a daily basis. I was able to travel with some NFL players that are partnering with Compassion on a new project. And just to see the way the kids react on a daily basis just makes everything worth it.
Angela: We know that what each of us does is valuable and needed. And so, I think the organization does a really good job of making sure that everyone knows that, that it doesn’t matter where you work or what you do, you are a part of that mission and you are what’s helping release children from poverty.
Tim: We’re fighting a global, endemic, pandemic that takes the church, that takes evangelical Christians, that takes people who want to solve a bigger issue than themselves collectively. And that’s the kind of people we want here in this organization. That’s the kind of culture we’re trying to build.
Michael: First one is here for a reason. So, the mission. We say that we’re here for the kids, and that’s probably the thing that resonates the most with Compassion employees across the globe, is we believe in the mission of what we’re supposed to do. I won’t get them in order, but there’s invite others in. So that means being open, transparent to invite others in and welcome their feedback, welcome their input. There’s careful with our words. So, we think twice before we say something that might be harmful, hurtful, that might do damage to a relationship. Brenda is helping me out here. Great. Thank you. 100% for one another. So that one’s a big one for me. It comes up on my annual performance appraisal all the time. I’m always trying to be 100% for other people so that I’m not thinking about my own interest only, but I’m thinking about what’s good for the other person as well. And then serious about personal growth, ours and others. They came up with the five cultural behaviors and then they promoted that numbers of times. Our president has promoted it through our all staff meetings. In our global leadership summit, he’s promoted it. Then we’ve developed a curriculum.
Z-Ean: I work at the IT department for the mobile team, which we call “the nomads” for some reason. I really, really like working on the mobile team. They’re very welcoming, and especially for me as an international student. I don’t know anybody here in Colorado Springs specifically, so I have no idea where to live, what to do, where to go, who to hang out with after work. So, I’m really grateful for my teammate where they’re very helpful.
Angela: A couple of things that really stood out during the trip as far as our culture goes, is actually the contact center is combined with other contact centers, so other companies, so they’ll actually be on the same floor. We have Compassion, but then other companies, and in the middle of the day, we have chapel. So all of us, as Compassion, we’re meeting together and worshiping and encouraging each other through the Word and these other contact centers were getting to see that.
Tim: You talked about hiring. When I was hired here, I came to an interview and I was 45 minutes late to my interview for Compassion. And I thought I wasn’t going to get the job, but I was 45 minutes late because on the way to my interview – it was just meeting at a restaurant for the interview – I encountered this lady. Her car had broken down in the middle of Academy Boulevard in Colorado Springs, which is a busy road. You don’t want to be broken down. And this lady was crying in her car. And so, I stopped and I helped her push her car off to the side of the road, tried to help her get her car started; tried to jumpstart, couldn’t get it. Got her to a pay phone because I didn’t have a cell phone at the time. Got her to a pay phone so she could call her husband and get in her—I was 45 minutes late. I was filthy. I walked in. The couple that I was supposed to be interviewing with had already eaten their lunch, figured I wasn’t going to show up. And I’m like, “Hey, I’m sorry I’m late but here’s why.” And they said, “You know what? You’re the kind of person we want to Compassion. Let’s just skip the interview process and let’s just talk.”
Michael: When I was hired with Compassion, I was hired to immediately go to Asia. So I was here in Colorado Springs for about three months, and then I got on a plane with my family and we moved. We sold everything we had and we moved over to Thailand, into Chiang Mai. We lived there for eight and a half years. What I appreciate so much about Compassion is I had almost zero international experience at that time, but they were willing to take a chance on me. They looked at my resume and they said, “He has the skills that we want to build. We think we can develop his cultural awareness.” And so, they took a chance, they sent me over there. I had some people that came around me that would help me to kind of navigate the cultural minefield that I was in.
Z-Ean: During that time, we had like seven interns working on this specific team, and I was the only female there. And I guess part of it is I’m used to being the minority in a technology environment, and also, I feel like Compassion issues like – again, it’s very welcoming and very friendly in a way that you don’t feel like you’re left out. So, for me, I feel like I’m just able to be myself in a way. And especially in technology field, you have so many things that you can learn and you can try and you will fail, which we have that space. They allow us to fail and learn, and there’s bunch of stuff that you can learn. So, for example, during my internship, they were like, “Well, I guess you can just go and explore and do whatever…”It’s within the same context, but they would just say, “Feel free to use any tools, anything, any language that you want, and just build from there.”
Michael: I’d like to talk about the internship program from the perspective of a supervisor. I’ve supervised five interns over the years and what I really appreciate about the program is it’s designed to create a transformational experience for the interns. First, we welcome them out to what we call an exposure trip where they go to visit one of our countries and they spend a week with the kids and they get to see the things that we, some of Compassion staff may not get to do for several years after they’ve been here. So, we give them an exposure trip and then when they come back, we found we don’t need to do a lot of orientation because they get it. Once they’ve been out and they’ve seen the kids and they’ve seen the work and they’ve been in the churches, they really get it. So we give them an abbreviated orientation program. But then every Friday, there’s what we call an intern impact session, and we invite them back for an hour and a half or sometimes two hours. We’ll have them hear from our president, from our president emeritus. They’ll come and they’ll talk. We’ll do some skill-building. We teach them about their strengths. We do other things. It can vary from time to time, but we’re really investing in them so that they can grow and develop. And after eight or 10 weeks with us, they have had an experience that will be transformational in their lives.
Tim: I was just going to say that part of our internship program, too, is trying to shape a global mindset of our youth so that they understand not just global poverty because we do. We want youth today to understand global poverty and to be world changers, to be world shapers. So that even if they don’t end up working for Compassion, they’re out shaping the world and changing the world for this cause that we believe in strongly.
Andre: I think Compassion here, we do a really good job on the onboarding process and I get to see this a lot is when a new person first steps through those front doors, there’s a celebration. A lot of times, the whole team that they’re going to be working on invites them at the front door in the lobby, and the very first thing they do is they surround and lay hands on that person and pray for them. When that happened to me, when I first started here, I was like a baby and I just got goosebumps all through my body.
Angela: And I think how my department in general feels is that we all feel like we have a voice. And so, if we have an idea or something that we feel like we could do better, that there isn’t—people feel safe to speak up and to go into leadership and say, “Hey. Maybe we should try. saying this to the sponsors, or maybe we should try this process. This might make it easier,” and it’s definitely welcomed and changes are actually made from people, whether they’re new or have been here for years because of that.
Allison: I guess I’ll speak to diversity and inclusion. I’ve really enjoyed coming here and noticing that not everyone here looks like me. So I’m a white female in my thirties, and it’s been cool to see like I’m in meetings with people from Africa and I’m in meetings with people from Asia and I’m in Latin America. And it’s cool to have so many different perspectives on the table because I think you make such better decisions when you hear from somebody who’s experienced doesn’t look exactly like yours. So that’s been really encouraging to me as well.
Angela: One of the things that was really meaningful for me was during one of my first one-on-ones, which we have about at least once a month, my new supervisor asked me, “What are you picturing in the next five years? What are you interested in?” And I kind of said, “Oh, well, I’ve been thinking about training. I thought that might be a good fit for me.” I think it was literally like two days later, she calls me in to her office and she says, “We have an opportunity. I’d love for you to lead our next training And so now, I’m actually officially the learning and development specialist for our contact center so I’m getting to do training full time, which was kind of a dream of mine.
Brenda: The secret sauce of Compassion is we really are treated fairly well as employees and we realize that. But one thing is we work really hard and we’re all in, but every five years, we’re able to take our spouse or a family member with us on a sponsored tour to see the work in the field. And so, every five years you get that chance to touch, feel, hug kids, see the tangible side of our work. And that’s a big investment, but I think it pays off. And why? My husband is much more patient with me if I’m working long hours or I’m working a little bit over a weekend or something because I’m trying to get something caught up. He understands that because he’s been out there. He and I are also sponsors, and so he’s met the kids. He’s met the staff.
Tim: We have an employee assistance program where we can care for each other. One of the great ways that we can do it is you can build up paid time off and you can share that with somebody else. So, if somebody else doesn’t have time off that they need for a medical emergency or to spend time with their family or whatever, I can give some of my time off that I’ve accrued to and put it into a bucket that somebody else can pull from. And I love that. I love that we can share our time off with somebody else that’s in need.
Michael: I’ve been thinking about some of the rhythms that we have for work here at our global ministry center that help us to maintain our focus and our passion and also connect to one another. And I’m thinking we have chapel every two weeks where we will sometimes have an internal speaker, sometimes we’ll invite the speaker in, but that’s intended to keep the fire hot in our hearts for what we’re doing. And so we’re very careful to organize those messages around a common theme. This year, our theme is harmony, and so all the messages for the entire calendar year had been related to harmony.
Tim: What do we do to celebrate? Well, we just had our 2-millionth child this past year in the program. We celebrated that as an organization. That’s a huge milestone for us.
Denver: I wanna thank all of those who participated in this piece: Tim Glenn, Allison Meggers, Angela Loomis, Z-Ean Chung, Andre Gordon, Michael Kientz, and Brenda Kerls. To listen to this again, read the transcript or see pictures of the participants and the offices of Compassionate International, just come visit denver-frederick.com
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