Posted on July 14, 2023
In the modern world, businesses and communities thrive on interconnectedness. With social media, online marketplaces, online learning, and virtual teamwork, the ability for businesses to collaborate with their surrounding community is becoming more prevalent than ever before.
At Journey Group, we strive to positively impact lives by building community. That’s why our employees are making a genuine and lasting impact in the communities they serve.
Aaron Eich, Senior Project Manager for Journey Construction takes heart in serving the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Sioux Empire. We sat down with him to hear about his experience and to learn what serving Sioux Falls and surrounding communities means to him.
Tell me about your community involvement and relationship with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sioux Falls.
I’ve been a board member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Sioux Empire for about four and a half years. In addition to their board, I’m also on their operations committee.
What inspired you to be a part of this and what does it mean to you personally?
What inspired me was the opportunity to give back to our community, but more importantly the children of our community. The childcare industry has been a tough industry to be in, especially since Covid-19. It’s great to be a part of the board as well as the operations committee. It gives me a chance to dive a little deeper on the back end – it has been a great experience.
Why is community involvement so important to Journey and how does it fall in line with our core mission, vision, and values?
At Journey, we're always encouraging everyone to get out in the community and give back. A lot of our work throughout our 115-year history has been in the Sioux Falls and Sioux Falls metro areas. So, getting out there, getting in front of people, owners, and our trade partners, sets an example for others to get involved as well.
There's a lot of opportunity for community involvement in the Sioux Falls area. It boasts a good foundation for nonprofits with businesses like the Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce, and the Young Professionals Network (YPN). There are a lot of facets and people in the community that support the foundation of community involvement and continue to build it from the ground up.
How has your community involvement influenced your professional growth?
When you have an opportunity to be on the board of a business, you’re able to see and meet a lot of people from different industries. You gain different perspectives that you necessarily didn’t see before in addition to gathering unique ideas. Community involvement provides a lot of networking and relationship opportunities, which is great to have in your professional career.
Likewise, with the operations side of things, you gain a behind-the-scenes look at how a business is maneuvering objectives, like employee retention, which enables you to collect ideas that you can bring back to your own company or provide you with the chance to cultivate ideas for your company.
How have the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Sioux Empire had a significant impact on you throughout your community involvement?
It’s amazing to see how they’re always willing to help families. They work hard to ensure everyone has access to quality care, no matter their circumstance. They have endless stories about children and families who have grown through their programs and whose lives have been impacted by the organization's focus on academic success, good character and citizenship, and healthy lifestyles. It's incredible.
In your opinion why is it important for professionals to be involved in the community?
It brings a multitude of benefits for the individuals themselves and the entirety of the community. Stronger networks are built, professional development is enhanced, and personal growth is achieved. You also create a positive reputation while contributing to the community’s well-being.
Have you seen any positive effects of community involvement on team dynamics or morale within our workplace for those who are involved in the community?
Definitely. People gain different perspectives and their worldviews change depending on the boards they sit on and the organizations they get involved in. They create more relationships and become more well-rounded citizens in my opinion. Community involvement gives them access to mentors who help and guide them along the way, especially when issues occur. It opens a lot of doors to professional growth, which stems from other professionals and other industries. That creates a positive effect on anyone, no matter where you work.
Do you think Community Involvement boosts employee engagement within Journey? Does it impact an employee’s willingness to go to office events or anything similar?
Yes. When an employee is first getting into community involvement, everyone is a little shy. It can be uncomfortable. But once you’re immersed in it then you realize it’s not so bad. You meet new people, and before you know it, you’re wondering what other things you can get involved with. You ask yourself, “What’s out there that I can enjoy?” The main thing is to make sure you pick areas that you want to be involved in, within the community, that interest you. Don’t become involved just for the sake of it. Do it for a reason that really resonates with you. It will help your personal mission as well as your company’s mission and values.
How can organizations like Journey further support and encourage employees to get involved in Sioux Falls and surrounding communities?
The main concept is to give people time to do it. It takes a flexible schedule to attend many events. Keep people informed of what’s out there, help them, and guide them toward a mentor who can show them what’s available. Once you start researching, you’ll find that there are a lot of different areas, which can make it overwhelming. The biggest thing is allowing the flexibility to do it.
Do you have any suggestions or advice for colleagues who may want to start getting involved but don't know where to begin?
Reach out to others who are known to be actively involved in the community and ask them how they started, and the benefits they get from it, and form a buddy system. If there’s an event, try to take others from the company with you. That will help the beginner/social awkwardness that can come with it. Not everyone has that, but some do, so finding a mentor or buddy who has been through it will help.