I wanted to share some observations I’ve had about Dawn Enterprises and the level of compassion it truly puts forth in the community. Once a month Dawn Enterprises has a team production meeting where an employee teaches his/her a topic to employees and staff. On Friday July 28th, an employee at Dawn Enterprises did a presentation for her coworkers about kindness. This employee was given the opportunity to choose which topic she wanted to present to the company with the aid of a staff member. The presentation was simple but effective and showed the value of kindness in relation to productivity and morale. I felt this coworker sincerely expressed the importance of fostering support for her fellow employees. This simple example emphasizes the importance of kindness, teamwork, and the powerful effect it can have on those touched by it. In the short time I’ve been working at Dawn Enterprises there have been numerous moments expressing the significance of kindness within this organization, and the range that those acts can have. The presentation on kindness is just one reminder of the importance of empathy and compassion one must possess to be a successful member of Dawn Enterprises and the Community of Blackfoot.
Being a member of Dawn Enterprises is a new experience for me. During my first tour of Dawn Enterprises I verbally expressed my ignorance to the Director of Dawn Enterprises, saying “I had no idea what was happening here.” The executive director hears this phrase quite often while interacting with people from the community. Having shirked that archaic mindset, I’m beginning to understand the value of accumulating knowledge of businesses, events, and the individuals who make our community great. There is obvious room for improvement in community involvement for myself, which is why I feel it is important to share some basic facts about Dawn Enterprises.
Dawn has been part of the community of Blackfoot since December 1974. Dawn Enterprises is a non-profit organization that offers employment, housing, and community support services to assist individuals of Southeast Idaho with mental, physical, or social disabilities to achieve independence up to each person’s maximum capability. There are 150 employees at Dawn Enterprises and at least 75% of them have a disability. That is the textbook version, the reality is that a small group of hard working individuals offer a tremendous service to those with developmental disabilities and mental health issues within our community. This is a broad, sterilized description of what Dawn does. Unfortunately, I am ill equipped to properly express the nuances of what Dawn Enterprises does on a monthly, weekly, daily, and moment to moment basis.
Another necessary puzzle piece to membership in the community is having the right kind of mindset. A mindset that is consistent, focused, humble, that grasps the mission/vision of the organization can be translated into something meaningful and powerful. The daily grind of work and the constant distraction of life can create barriers, blocking the true value of experiences that on the surface seem unimportant and inapplicable. Many of the members of Dawn have attained this mindset by consistently fulfilling the role they have in the organization day after day. The effect that this kind of work has on the individuals and organizations is subtle, but noticeable if you take the time and effort to notice. These individuals and groups have participated in this symbiotic relationship with each other for a long time. The staff, clients, employees, and the community of Blackfoot have benefited from Dawn Enterprises’ existence for a while, regardless of whether any benefactor realized the powerful influence these relationships create. Being aware of the influence we have in our communities can help guide us to become an efficient driving force of positive action.
Ownership and responsibility is another important factor when considering community and membership. This community belongs to all of us and is shaped by the actions of its’ members. Not only am I a new member of the community of Dawn Enterprises but am a member of a family community, a neighborhood community, a business community, and a city community etc. The idea of community should not change once the circumstances of membership change. Once I leave any one of these communities, I become a member of another one, and the basic responsibilities from the old to the new community membership will not change. It’s important to remember the consistent role we play in these communities and always strive to improve the community and ourselves within that environment. The context of the communities we have membership in and the roles we play within them may alter slightly but the foundational qualities of membership will transcend time and place.
The concept of community and kindness being an inherent part of humanity is not new. The great Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius once said, “The true joy of humankind is in doing that which is most proper to our nature; and the first property of people is to be kindly affected towards them that are of one kind with ourselves.” This quote accurately encapsulates the beauty of kindness and community. There are daily occurrences when a family member, friend, coworker, neighbor, or organization could use our support and kindness. The question we should be asking is, “What is the right act in these moments?” If it’s in my nature to be “kindly affected” as Marcus Aurelius says, what reasons do I have for resisting these natural tendencies?
Our motivation for involvement in these communities could be compared to a mirror reflection where the specific community is the mirror and ours is the reflection in it. What does that reflection say about us? Have we maintained our relationship with these communities in a constructive way? Do we see a “normal” reflection or are we viewing ourselves through a “fun-house” mirror? These are just a few of the questions I should consistently be asking myself. If there is one thing I have taken from my limited experience from Dawn Enterprises, it’s that kindness presentations don’t require a scheduled meeting time.