The Oakwyn Kindness Challenge is back for the second year running -- we’re getting excited to do some good in our community!
The Kindness Challenge began as a way to give back to our community. One of Oakwyn’s core values is to ‘Put People First’, so in 2018 we decided to challenge our agents to make this value a reality. They took it upon themselves to participate in acts of goodwill and charity, spreading kindness throughout our city. The challenge not only resulted in charitable acts but also served to build stronger connections throughout Greater Vancouver — because when you put people first, great things happen.
How The Kindness Challenge Works:
The Kindness Challenge runs for one month, from November 15th to December 15th. Oakwyn Agents will commit acts of kindness for specific businesses or individuals, posting and promoting them on their social media.
To participate in the Oakwyn Kindness Challenge, agents are asked to go out into their community and perform an act of goodwill. They then tag @oakwyn and #OakwynKindness in their post and challenge another group of Oakwynites. This way, the challenge snowballs, with more and more Oakwyn agents spreading kindness. You can also see the stories compiled on Oakwyn’s highlight reel.
Oakwyn’s 2018 Kindness Challenge
The first year Oakwyn conducted the Kindness Challenge, it was a huge success. Agents across Vancouver came together, performing charitable acts that benefited their communities.
Over 22 charities were donated to, including the Canadian Cancer Society, Kids Care, YWCA Canada, the BC Children’s Hospital and food banks across the city. There were other, random acts of inspired kindness interspersed throughout the challenge too, like Michael Uy filling expired parking meters outside of Vancouver General Hospital and street care packages for people in need. The results were truly incredible.
To get an inside look at why people participated and what they got out of it, we sat down with participants of the 2018 Kindness Challenge. We spoke with Maissa Hasan, Mary Porohowski, Jordan Scarpino, and Kristin Wellbrock to get their thoughts on the event:
Maissa Hasan, Oakwyn Internal
The 2018 Kindness Challenge resonated with Maissa Hasan, who is part of Oakwyn’s Internal Administrative team, due to experiences in her youth. “Having grown up in both poverty-stricken and wealthy countries, it was always instilled in me to not take my privileges for granted and to give back to those who are challenged to attain the basic necessities to live,” Maissa stated. Maissa donated to the Downtown East Side Women’s Shelter for her Kindness Challenge.
At Oakwyn, our core values often define our business practices. We created these values to make ourselves and our community the best it — and we — can be. “It’s crucial that corporate-level companies unite together to actively participate in philanthropic activities and events as it’s truly a humbling experience that can be shared together,” Maissa states. “One of the reasons I love working at Oakwyn is that our core values, number one being ‘Put People First’, [which] revolves around helping people and to ‘Stay Humble’.”
Maissa goes on to tell us how her experience volunteering at our Covenant House Sleep Out prepared her for the challenge. “Participating in the Kindness Challenge felt like a breeze right after spending a cold, winter night outside in the pouring rain for Covenant House’s Sleep Out, yet rewarding nonetheless,” Maissa stated. “I always find it refreshing to take time out of my day for an act of kindness, no matter how big or small, to know I can make someone else’s life a little bit better.”
Mary Porohowski, Oakwyn Agent
For Mary Porohowski, giving back has long been a part of her life. For the 2018 Kindness Challenge, Mary and her team “provided new and hardly used furniture and accessories for a family with two young kids who were waiting to get into Social Housing and have their own space.” Mary also stated, “we arranged for movers, set up everything and provided household basics for this family who got a great start for the holidays. We hope that this little kindness made a big difference in this family’s life as much as the feeling we had when we were able to help them!”
“From an early age, I learned from my family the importance of knowing and helping the people in our neighbourhood,” Mary tells us. Mary now lives in Downtown Vancouver, “as I jog and walk throughout my neighbourhood, I cannot help but see the homelessness and difficulties that people suffer from. I have gotten to know many of these people by name and have heard some of their stories. I have learned that many of these people have worked hard and led decent lives. Unfortunately, a change in their lives occurred and in many cases, they didn’t have any support, which eventually led them to life on the streets.”
Mary continues the charitable work that’s long been a part of her life. “I volunteer at the Union Gospel Mission and have seen firsthand how people’s outlooks and lives change by the act of giving, the offer of support and charity,” Mary states. “I believe that the act of giving is a hand and a step towards hope and recovery for many.”
Oakwyn believes that a company, on a corporate level, should encourage its community to be involved in charities and acts of goodwill. “We are all blessed to have each other as support in our careers, to be able to earn our successes and receive the rewards of our work,” Mary weighs in. “To be grateful and to share our rewards is what gives meaning to our work and lives. As a company, we can make a bigger impact by donating not just money, but also by donating food, clothes, gifts and many more thoughtful items.”
And, Mary understands that almost always, the act of giving is valuable for both the benefactor and recipient. “Giving is obviously helpful to those receiving but it is also a morale booster and reinforces a culture of charity,” Mary states. “When a company cares for their community, it brings us together, it forms stronger relationships and it creates synergistic energy on a large scale that can help more people and fight for greater causes such as poverty reduction and improving overall health and wellness.”
The most rewarding thing from 2018’s Kindness Challenge, Mary states, “was not only receiving the gratitude from the ones you are helping but also knowing that you can make a meaningful difference in people’s lives.”
Jordan Scarpino, Oakwyn Agent
“There are so many people facing difficult challenges and obstacles in life, by giving back, my hope is to make a positive impact in their lives and help lessen the burden,” stated Jordan Scarpino when asked about his contributions to the community. He volunteers with Baby Go Round, a non-profit organization year-round and was actively involved in the 2018 Kindness Challenge. Last year, Jordan and his family sponsored a family in need during the holidays. They filled a Christmas hamper with presents, gift cards, and food to last them through the holiday season — not to mention all the fixings for Christmas dinner.
On the importance of fostering an atmosphere of kindness and goodwill from a corporate level, Jordan believes “it’s important to encourage team members to be champions for a cause, create positive change and give back whether it is with their time, skills or financially.”
Kristin Wellbrock & Madison Corday, Lee + Pete Real Estate Group, Oakwyn Realty
Kristin and Madison participated in the 2018 Kindness Challenge for the annual Lee + Pete Christmas party, organizing a prize-filled raffle. “All proceeds of the raffle tickets go to [the Canucks for Kids Foundation] and our clients love it,” Kristin tells us. “They spend significantly more money on these tickets than they would if it was just flowing back into our pockets to pay off the prizes.” Kristin goes on to say that during the holiday season, “we all feel like giving a bit more love to those less fortunate. It’s the season of giving, and with that, we too, like to give back to the community. I think if you’re able to create a better life for others, then yours will enhance, too.”
Beyond the goodness of charity, giving back can be good for a company’s environment, too. “I think it creates something further than just talking about the day-to-day all day,” Kristin states. “It makes everyone feel good being involved in giving back to the community and caring beyond the scope of work we are usually involved in.”
As well as the Christmas party raffle proceeds being donated to the Canucks for Kids Foundation, Kristin and Madison “participated in a fellow realtor’s Secret Santa challenge, which supported single moms and their children during the holiday season.” Kristin states, “We got one family assigned to us, received their wish list and bought them gifts to put under their tree. [The Kindness Challenge] was important to us. We’ve all been fortunate enough to have a joy and gift-filled Christmas since we can remember and so we were really excited about making sure that another family can experience the same and have more than one gift under the tree.”