EMC Gives Back – A day with FeedMore.Org


#RVA Local?  Don’t miss Zest Fest Gala (Feb 28th) hosted by FeedMore.org

EMC has a wonderful program we call “EMC Gives Back” which takes crusty old business-hardened individuals like myself and tells them its ok to not have your iPhone glued to your hand and calendar memorized for at least one day. It sounds silly, but you know where I’m coming from. Though I work endlessly without reference to a clock, I have an internal drive to constantly contribute. The contribution is ok, but this program helps people like myself to re-adjust the focus and add more targets for my value-add. In this case non-profits.  Since I have started supporting EMC Gives back, I have actually increased my volunteering across the board, and which has been as rewarding for me as my sweat equity is for others. To finish my prologue… I’ll say “thanks EMC”.

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EMC Corporate chose to focus on water security last spring and summer, and food security this fall and winter. The EMC office in Richmond, VA took this to heart and has scheduled several afternoon sessions at FeedMore.org .  This high energy group is organized by Gina Moore and Mike Blow, two courageous do-gooders I’d say. I am appreciative of their efforts to organize the team.

Well next week TEAM EMC/Richmond is heading over for our second installment of can-slinging in the food distribution warehouse, but I unfortunately will be traveling during the visit. I was not going to let that keep me down… I decided to take things into my own hands. If you’ve followed my past blogs, you know my daughter is in a program called “SERVE” at Virginia Tech, and she is still in town for break. It was an easy pitch for me to get her to join me on a little afternoon adventure. We both headed to FeedMore.

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So let me tell you a little about FeedMore’s history.  FeedMore is a “giving tree” who’s roots started in the 1980’s. Rising hunger concerned the local community and 60 non-profits/charities came together to form the “Central Virginia Food Bank” (CVFB). CVFB was named “Best Food Bank in the Nation” in 1998 and continues to be a leader program for the nation. In 2008 a powerful move was made to consolidate CVFB with Meals on Wheels and to create a Community Kitchen as an enabler of nutritional health in the community. This innovative merger has been recognized as a national model for driving collaboration into the fight for food security.

Interesting FeedMore Stats:                                                                                            (stats from FeedMore.org website and through conversations at facility)

– Aprox. 22 million pounds of food has been processed and served to the community through this network, based in Central VA. (4 million through the specific facility I was in)

– 83,000 pounds of food is distributed every day

– FeedMore supports 31 counties in Central Virginia.

– Major contributors include the Boy Scouts, and major grocery chains like  Wal-Mart and Kroger.

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I was in impressed on many levels. I was surprised to see how big an operation this was. Its a small army of volunteers everyday that makes this work. Let’s also point out the goodness of the major grocery chains. These companies go to a notable effort to take slightly old and astetically damaged product and get it to FeedMore in great shape. I saw a couple examples where they went to the trouble to reprint labels so the product could be used. Many of these contributors additionally do a matching program in $ which is a huge benefit. I guess you could say we all pay a couple pennies more for our food, but it is great to know all the tons of damaged food gets repurposed. This is a Karma booster for us all.

It was also interesting to hear that the Boy Scouts “canned food drive” is so large it takes them from late fall to early summer to process it all.  This brings up a good point for you to know. These distribution centers across the country take a period of  time to process contributions. I am sure many of us give more around Thanksgiving and Christmas, however those contributions don’t hit the streets until January.  We should start our food contributions in September through the holidays…

So what’s the worst thing about FeedMore’s distribution center? They have a high standard of quality!! They required me to look at every little “BEST BUY BEFORE” date on every can and every package… Do you know how small those #($*&%! dates are??   Though I was a little dizzy by the end, I survived; and the  crew we adopted kicked butt. We cleaned out the room with a few minutes to spare and we were told we were an exceptional crew (they may tell everyone that, who knows…)

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I didn’t make any new lifetime friends and I only towed the line for just one afternoon, but I made a difference to somebody. Its newly acquired wisdom that tells me the small gifts given frequently are the most important. As for work, I believe I came back to work a little more energized, and ready to contribute. These are truly win-win scenarios.

“It takes more that one feather for a bird to fly… Feather your wings and soar.”                       

#RVA Local?  Don’t miss Zest Fest Gala (Feb 28th) hosted by FeedMore.org

“Shake Rattle and Roll” – A Singular Virtual Experience


As I sat here in Richmond, Virginia today feeling the earth’s amazing power to shake rocks across state lines, I experienced my first 5.9 earthquake. It felt and sounded like someone dribbling a dumpster for what seemed like 2 minutes. All in all, no major damage to respond to and no lasting effects. Work only slowed for about 30 minutes as everyone chattered a bit. Now the states of Virginia and the Carolinas prepare for hurricane Irene to dance her way across the southern mid-Atlantic. All of this environmental upheaval had me thinking about writing a blog on risk and how companies need stronger disaster recovery plans… But I was struck by another aspect of the experience that left me fascinated: “Connectivity”.

First I should say I was on the phone with someone in North Carolina during the event and approximately 45-60 seconds into my “vibra-dance”, they felt the rumble too; creepy cool. During the earthquake I checked weather and internet search sites to see if anything was reported. It took over 10 minutes for these channels to first start registering the news of the event. I’m old enough to be impressed with that as a technology innovation, but I knew that would not win the “first to report” race.

With a complete lack of political bias I simultaneously checked FoxNews.com and CNN.com, both had a breaking news tag within 5 minutes after the last piece of furniture stopped shaking. I was impressed. This is where I learned it was a 5.8 earthquake (later 5.9) and that it was based in Virginia.

Continuing…a few minutes later I typed an email to some folks in another Richmond office across town. They responded back within a minute that the epicenter was in Mineral, Va. Mineral is about 39 miles away. So within say 6 minutes, I knew it all. I knew what had happened, where it happened, and mostly importantly I wasn’t losing my mind, others have felt it too. In 6 minutes it was history. Some would say it would be better to know 6 minutes before the event, but from a technology perspective, the immediacy would have blown the minds of anyone who died before 1990.

Note when I got off my phone call, I lost voice connectivity completely. I feared infrastructure damage, but later realized this was an overload. Through it all, my internet continued flawlessly.

Ok but it gets better (and worse). Both of my daughters were each on opposite corners of the city at the time, preparing for school and sports teams. Both daughters, while the earthquake was rattling, went on Facebook and both had not 1, but many entries screaming “E-A-R-T-H-Q-U-A-K-E” one typed letter at a time. This blows my mind and I’m not dead yet.

Why did this blow my mind? I give your two reasons. One: that a generation of people through an overlapped network of friends and acquaintances shared the experience as if they were in a room together. There’s no “I can’t wait to tell my friend when I see her” happening in their world. It happens real-time. And, two: All of those kids went to Facebook almost simultaneously as they checked in with the “adult in charge” on what to do in this emergency situation (remember East Coaster’s know very little about earthquakes). I for one didn’t consider Facebook or social media at all in this time of crisis, I fell upon old patterns. I picked up the phone and the liberated Gen-X’r that I am; I typed out words in a search engine.

I feel this is a great example of how the world is changing. The generation gap isn’t like the one I had with my parents. I think it’s quite easy to raise teenagers. We seem to understand each other better. We listen to the same music. However, the gap is as wide. We’re notably different in how we interact with the world, in how build trust networks and in how we respond to others like corporations.

We in the business world are already hiring, marketing and selling to the first generation of this big change. Many of us seasoned professionals scoff at these changes as if they aren’t that impactful, but they are. When you choose social media first or even second as a tool for dealing with a “gut-check” emergency there is a fundamental connection that has powerful implications some brilliant and positive, some scary. To them it was a Singular Virtual Experience.
I for one heard its virtual rumble and understood its power today.