A lot of people want nice things: whether it’s a fancy car, a big house or toys to fill their garage. For some, success is measured by money and power. At Quicken Loans, our success is focused on making a difference for clients, team members and our community. That’s just one of the many things I love about this company.
Each year, every team member is given eight hours to volunteer in the community and we receive weekly emails with different volunteering opportunities. I have a soft spot for kids, so when I got the email about a volunteer event with children as a part of the Summer in the City program, I jumped at the opportunity!
Summer in the City is a program that allows kids to explore Detroit’s famous island, Belle Isle, with volunteers age 14 and up. I was stoked to participate as an adult, but when I was a kid in grade school, I lived for field trips. Not much has changed since then, and I can only imagine how excited the kids were! I’d never been to Belle Isle before, and the opportunity to explore with a local child made the event that much more appealing.
When we got to the park, kids in homemade, tie-dye T-shirts were everywhere! We were given instructions to go find our buddies based on our favorite ice cream. We ran into the sea of tie-dye to let fate work its magic. The first little girl I found was preoccupied with all of the hustle and bustle. Before I caught her name, she disappeared in the crowd. Oh, well. The search continued and moments later, I met my buddy.
Her name was Nicole, and she too enjoyed a classic, mint chocolate chip ice cream cone. After a brief conversation, I realized she was a very special girl. She was full of charisma and stories – we hit it off right away and I knew it was going to be a great day.
Nicole was very eager to start exploring, so waiting for final instruction was pretty difficult for both of us! It was her first time on Belle Isle, too, but we were ready for the challenge. The leaders handed out “passports” with a list of places to explore on the island. First on the passport was the aquarium, which had fish native to Michigan and many others from around the world. The conservatory had plants from different climates around the globe and the Dossin Great Lakes Museum showcased the Great Lakes, waterways, history behind shipping and numerous hands-on exhibits. We grabbed our passports and were off on our adventure!
On our way to the aquarium and conservatory, I asked Nicole the usual questions like, what grade are you in? How many brothers and sisters do you have? What do you want to be when you grow up? We chatted throughout our explorations. As we got to know each other, I was eager to really be her buddy and become someone she would remember.
On our way to the Dossin Great Lakes Museum, we made a pit stop at the Scott Fountain where a bunch of kids were splashing around and having a good time. Nicole didn’t want to go in at first, but with a little coaxing she finally kicked her shoes off, rolled up her pant legs and tested the water. It was pretty chilly and she did not want to go in all the way. She sat on the edge and watched the other kids for a minute or two before finally wading in, squealing and giggling until she got used to the water. The whole atmosphere was light and fun and the kids’ laughter was contagious. After a good 10 minutes, I had to practically drag her out of the fountain.
After the fountain, we got back on track to head over to the museum. Nicole talked more about her family, pets and anything else that came to her mind. She was eager to learn, but she got bored pretty quickly, so I tried to find fun things to talk about to keep her interested. We played with the interactive exhibits and I taught her how to row a boat. We talked to one of the experts about the museum and learned that part of the museum was actually a retired ship. That got her attention! She played with the different levers and buttons and pretended to be the captain of the ship. I can only imagine how much fun it would have been to experience it as a kid! Time was running out, so we headed back to the playground.
As I sat in the shade watching her play, I thought about our conversations throughout the day and wondered if she would remember anything we talked about. Did I make a difference? Would she remember me a month or two from now? Time flew by and before I knew it, she had to leave. Without so much as a hug or a high-five, she told me she had to go and took off toward the bus. On the way back to work, I was still mulling over the impact I made – or didn’t make.
I realized that it doesn’t take anything extravagant to make a difference. A kind word, a helping hand, giving someone your time and attention – that’s what makes a difference in someone’s life, especially a child’s life. It doesn’t matter if she remembers my name or even our time together. The only thing that matters is that I gave her my time, and for just a few hours, we had fun. I’m honored to be with a company that encourages all of its team members to make such a positive impact on the community!
If working at a company that focuses on giving back to their community is important to you, check out the Quicken Loans careers website and get started today!
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