Thursday, January 22, 2015

KC Rotarians put service before self by assisting Hope House

Independence Shelter Director Hannah Peterson is proud to
present the new milk cooler and  table (foreground) provided
by the KC Plaza Rotary.
This month, the Kansas City Plaza Rotary Club awarded Hope House, Missouri’s largest domestic violence agency, $2,000 for the purposes of improving the Independence-based shelter’s outdated kitchen equipment.

The Plaza Rotary offered the $2,000 as a match after Rotary District 6040 – of which the KC Plaza Rotary is a member – provided a $1,900 donation to Hope House in December.

"Our Club is a dedicated and long-time supporter of Hope House,” said Bob Merrigan, president of the KC Plaza Rotary. “Their mission is in-line with that of the Plaza Rotary in terms of protecting and saving women and children around the world. We are very happy to be able to support them financially.”

Every year, Rotarians benefit projects around the globe that are focused in the areas of promoting peace, fighting disease, providing clean water, saving mothers and children, supporting education, and growing local economies.

The Plaza Rotary will also help complete the project through volunteer labor. Rotarians will volunteer time cleaning the kitchen and dining area at the Independence shelter Saturday.

Hope House leadership discussed their thoughts on the donation.

“We are proud and honored to be able to partner with the Plaza Rotary through this endeavor,” said Hope House CEO MaryAnne Metheny. “We want to express our deepest gratitude for the opportunity to benefit from the Rotary putting service above self.”

Kitchen enhancements are expected to be completed by the end of this month, ensuring more than 50 women and children utilizing the services at the Independence location to eat in a safe and sanitary dining environment,” said Metheny.

In addition to Hope House’s emergency safe shelter program, the agency also operates a 24-hour hotline, a safe visitation program for court-ordered non-custodial parents, group and individual therapy for survivors of domestic violence, and an outreach program to educate hospital and law enforcement personnel in Kansas City.

For more information about KC Plaza Rotary Club please visit For more information about Hope House, please call 816-257-4188 or visit For the 24-hour Hotline, please call 816-461-HOPE (4673).

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Annual bra exchange increases customer support, awareness of DV

Ten years ago, Terry Levine opened clair de lune lingerie boutique in Overland Park. Shortly after opening, Levine saw an opportunity to give back to the community.
She investigated local charities in need and found Hope House, a domestic violence advocate agency who serves survivors in the Kansas City area.
“It seems that domestic violence awareness has elevated over the last several years,” said Levine. “I had a product I could put in someone’s hand that they could use, since - in most cases - women leave with just the clothes they have on. A bra is not something people think of donating or reselling. They are really an overlooked necessity.”  
Between January 8 and 25, Levine’s customers are able to bring in gently-used bras in exchange for a $15 credit on the purchase of a new bra. The exchange has gained support over the years from her customer base.
“Customers love the idea,” said Levine. “The exchange takes on a whole new meaning because it’s a community effort. Every year, we collect more and more.”
During the exchange, clair de lune experiences its busiest time of year, Levine said.
“Our customers have started looking for the event,” said Levine. “It’s become a time of year the women can focus on themselves again. The holidays are spent on time for others. So this time of year allows our customers to help themselves and a great cause.”
Once the bras are collected, Hope House staff  pick up the bras and sort them for distribution to clients in our shelter and outreach services, said Hope House CEO MaryAnne Metheny.
“This has been such a great collection drive over the years,” said Metheny. “We receive bras of all sizes, so it is so helpful to our clients to know they will be able to find something that fits their unique needs.”
Hope House has been operating for 32 years and has been successful in part due to local partnerships with businesses, faith-based groups and charitable organizations.
“Clair de lune began this drive 10 years ago and it has been wonderful to partner with them, we are grateful to them for selecting our agency as the recipients of their bra exchange” said Metheny. “They are a great example for any business who wants to drive customer engagement and raise awareness for domestic violence or any other local charity.”

For information on clair de lune, visit For information on Hope House, visit Or, for ways to get your business, employees or customers engaged with Hope House, contact Brandi Bair, Hope House volunteer coordinator at

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Volunteerism answers multiple employee engagement questions

According to the 2013 Gallup poll, engagement is the word that may overwhelm businesses.

Only 29 percent of the American and Canadian workforce claims to be “engaged” with their employer. Of the remaining 71 percent, 18 percent claim to be “actively disengaged,” costing the U.S. economy between $450 billion and $550 billion each year.

Although business experts disagree on causes, business leaders are struggling to retain employees, according to a 2014 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends study. It suggests that 78 percent of business leaders rate retention and engagement as an “urgent” or “important” need. Businesses and HR professionals are paying close attention to what their employees are saying.

The website offers some input on what employees are saying about their employers. The site has ranked the top 25 places to work based on culture and values.

Topping the list is Twitter. Last March, the company hired Caroline Barlerin to be the head of Twitter for Good. When Barlerin took the job, she wrote a column after the first week in her new post.

“It’s exciting to be embarking on this journey and see what positive impact we can have both locally and around the world,” said Barlerin. “I’m pleased to learn about all these brights spots and know there’s still a lot more the company can achieve in terms of outreach and giving.”

Later that year, Barlerin and her team led a company-wide effort in November called #FridayForGood. On November 7, more than 700 Twitter employees volunteered at more than 50 different projects across San Francisco and the surrounding area.

“Whether they donated blood at Twitter HQ or encouraged kids to read and write by acting out plays at 826 Valencia, our employees are passionate about making a difference in the lives of others,” said Barlerin.

It just so happens volunteerism ranks in the top 10 employee engagement best practices, according to hppy Enterprises, a consulting firm dedicated to employee happiness.
Experts in the philanthropy field agree, touting volunteerism and its ability to raise employee engagement while developing leaders.

“Most people want to be able to feel they’re doing something good with their time and their lives,” said volunteer activist and author Scott Huntington. “Volunteerism offers a great way for people to remember just how valuable their time is, especially when it is used for the benefit of others. It could translate to people being more willing to pitch in and go above and beyond what their job titles dictate they should do while on the clock at work.”

Huntington goes on to discuss the benefits of volunteerism and leadership development, something other workplace experts say is the true cause of poor employee engagement.

“Brick-and-mortar companies can’t love or hate people; so at the core, employees rarely have feelings of love or hate for corporate entities,” said Scott Carbonara, author of Manager’s Guide to Employee Engagement. “No, employees reserve that level of emotion for individuals - like their supervisors or managers. Disengaged employees act like they’ve been hurt - as if something has been done to them personally. In fact, the leading cause of attrition and disengagement is poor leadership.”

Huntington encourages businesses to volunteer in order to get managers leadership experience. He states, “Employees who volunteer are also willing to frequently lead others, even if they are not in supervisory positions.”

He provides three explanations for this development concept:

  • Volunteerism provides new perspectives and allows volunteers to become more in tune with things outside of the workspace
  • Volunteerism allows people to discover hidden talents
  • Those new skill sets build confidence that colleagues see and want to follow
Volunteerism promotes solutions to actively engage employees and build leaders who employees will choose to like or dislike. Either way, it answers Carbonara’s concern above and keeps employees feeling like they are making a contribution in and out of the office, driving happiness and innovation – two traits the Gallup poll states are not present in “actively disengaged” employees.

Businesses looking to engage employees and develop future leaders should contact local charities or visit the Twitter article above for more ideas.

Hope House is one Kansas City-based option. The domestic violence shelter is Missouri’s largest domestic violence advocate organization and assists survivors of abuse at two locations. For ways to get involved visit