Greenbrier celebrates World Kindness Day by giving thanks to its wonderful employees who recently cleaned up the streets of Portland, Oregon. In collaboration with SOLVE, a non-profit with a mission to keep Oregon clean and healthy for all, the volunteer group picked up over 2,320 pounds of trash across the city during the event. This act of kindness brought Greenbrier employees together with the local community to make the city more equitable for those living in it, highlighting Greenbrier’s commitment to IDEAL at a community level.
This event was made possible by Greenbrier employee Jennifer West. She was inspired to work with SOLVE after watching a newscast highlighting the organization. Serendipitously, Greenbrier hosted a virtual town hall around the same time with a call to action for employees to recommend volunteer opportunities. Jennifer felt it was an excellent opportunity to help restore the local community because, “even though it is a small act of kindness, our community really needed this.”
Jennifer was born in Portland and loved growing up in a city that was so walkable. Like many Portland natives, she was disappointed by the transformation Portland experienced since the COVID-19 pandemic started and felt inclined to do her part for the community.
She feels that this event highlights Greenbrier’s commitment to IDEAL because “the problem stems from a lack of access and equity, and this event brought Greenbrier together to help the local communities unite at a community level… This event required leadership because it took dedication from employees to step up, volunteer and place a focus on giving back.”
Jennifer and Greenbrier employee, Greg Saxton, checked in volunteers, being mindful to “not walk through anyone’s ‘backyard’ or ‘front yard.’ They set out with SOLVE’s provided tools to clean up a section of the city. SOLVE provides the tools and resources to anyone who wants to host a SOLVE event, including cleaning up the streets of Oregon, participating in habitat restoration work, visiting the Oregon coast for ocean clean-up day and many other programs. Over the next three hours, all volunteers filled bags with litter, including food and beverage containers. They felt a sense of pride to make a difference in the way Portland needed at the moment.
Greg was inspired to join this event because “Portland is in a tough spot right now … [and I] want to help. I don’t think we can just cut and run because things are a bit tough. We need to encourage leadership that can help us get better and change policies that need change.” He didn’t hesitate when he saw the opportunity to clean up Downtown and even arrived early to help. According to Greg, the city doesn’t look as bad as the media presents it, but he still thinks Portland could use the community coming together to improve its equity and access for all. He believes Greenbrier cares in many ways and highlighted that “Greenbrier shows kindness by allowing us to participate in events like this. But more importantly, they allow us an opportunity to succeed.”
Sarah McCallum was another one of Greenbrier’s volunteers that attended the event. She reflected on how wonderful it was to see the community’s response to the volunteers: “One of the many rewarding parts of the event was getting to see all the local people smiling, waving and thanking us as we cleaned up the area. You could really tell that it meant a lot to them to see people out helping keep their city clean.” A volunteer event that might only last a few hours can have a lasting positive effect on the community.
This collaboration was so successful that Greenbrier and SOLVE have committed to working together again in the future. Together, these organizations will work to restore the environment and positively affect the community for years to come. Greenbrier encourages employees to speak up and lead its IDEAL commitment by practicing kindness in daily life in the workplace and their personal lives.