Two great Social Responsibility initiatives

Last week 60 of my colleagues and I accompanied 90 elderly (many over 85 years) people from Almere. We were able to give them a great afternoon and evening. We escorted them from their homes to the cinema (Movie “The Wilderness), from there to our office at LeasePlan for a wonderful diner and back home afterwards. Hosting this diner was a very warm experience. Although there was a lot of loneliness among the guests, I was touched by their positive mindset. Their emotional and personal stories were an absolute gift!

Today (6 December 2013) my Department (Corporate Strategy Department) and I assisted the VoedselLoketAlmere (VLA). Together with three colleagues we collected food at a large supermarket in Almere city. About 14 other were send to other supermarkets.

We asked all people to buy some additional groceries (from a shopping list we provided) and to give them to us. After a full day among the three of us (at one supermarket) we were able to collect 39 large boxes, full with groceries! Not only the enormous amount of food was fantastic, also some heart breaking personal stories will stay forever in my mind.

Just a few examples:

A man with his 5 year old daughter: “How can I not contribute?  Last year I had to use the VoedselLoketAlmere (VLA) myself to survive”.  I told his wonderful child: “do you know you have a great daddy” Big smiles and positive energy came back in return.

One of the initiators of VLA: “due to the current crises we have a large number of new poverty”. Meaning that people, before “well off” are now in a position where they are not able to buy food for their family, due to bankruptcy, being unable to sell their houses, etc.  “What do you do when you meet them in a beautiful large empty house, eating cat food for several weeks?”

Beautiful old lady: “Yes I help VLA every year (she gave us a full basket) and of course I also bought fresh bread to give to the ducks close to my house :-)”

An intellectual, well English speaking man (mid 30) asked me to explain what we were doing. Afterwards he shared with me that he escaped Syria and now lived in a shelter for asylum appliers close to Almere. He finished university and owned a construction company in Syria. His family is now spread all over Europe. His company was destroyed and all his goods robbed. He asked me: “so this could be for us in the shelter too?”. His heart breaking story was much longer and intense. He told me that he was convinced to study all over again and that he will start a new life in the Netherlands.

Do I need to say more…………?

In the afternoon we received feedback from people that some of the groceries were sold-out in the shop which gave us of course a very good feeling too.

With my hart full with great stories, images and positive energy I went back to the office.

I would like to thank the hundreds of people shopping for VLA and LeasePlan Corporation to allow me to me be part of the two initiatives above.

Please see the website from VLA here