Showing posts from March, 2011

Ed and the Bike Tires

Sometimes when you receive a gift, you can’t help but change your life in response. I met Ed at a homeless shelter 12 years ago on the same day 9News aired its story on Bud’s Warehouse . It was a cold February day and I accepted the shelter’s invitation for a tour and a soup luncheon. Ed enthusiastically introduced himself to me after he found out that Bud’s Warehouse might have a job opening. I quickly hired him because of his endearing personality and his promise that no one would do a better job. And he’s been associated with Bud’s Warehouse ever since. If there’s one thing you need to know about Ed, it is passion for his bicycle. People all over Denver recognize Ed as a he passes by on his blue three-wheeler complete with a bugle horn and metal baskets. A few Christmases ago, Ed was upset because his bike had three flat tires. He couldn’t find tubes to fix them. And not being able to use his bike was terrible. We gathered later that week for an office gift exchange. Ed

Speaking Dog

The brake lights on the cars in front of me blinked in a chorus of red. I found myself stuck in a mysterious traffic jam on my way to a lunch meeting. There didn’t seem to be an immediate cause but cars up ahead were swerving in seemingly random directions to avoid something as they made it to the front of the line. When it was my turn, I discovered a small but mighty junkyard dog wandering aimlessly and unconcerned down the street. He looked like he was taking a stroll in the park and was oblivious to the danger that surrounded him. Fortunately, Coloradans love their dogs as much as they love their mountains so he was probably safe wandering down North Broadway Avenue. I dodged the dog and made it to my meeting. An hour later, I had forgotten the meandering canine and found myself southbound on the same street. Once again, traffic jammed and there was the dog headed in the opposite direction. Apparently, he was also returning from a lunch appointment. But this time,

Faithventure Business as Mission Practitioners

Updated: November 20, 2013 A faithventure is a Christ-centered business or social enterprise created to employ individuals or communities rebuilding lives from addiction, homelessness, or prison. Below you will find a list of innovative redemptive employment organizations from around the world. If you know of another deserving program, let us know by commenting below or by sending us message. You can also contact us via Twitter at @jamesreiner .   Advance Memphis Staffing : Tennessee staffing agency creating jobs for the the neighborhood surrounding the Cleaborn/Foote public housing developments. Advance Memphis Outsourcing : assembly and piecework services for Memphis area companies. Ashbury Images : San Francisco area printed and embroidered apparel company that employs and job trains at risk youth. Baby Bud's : a Denver maternity, baby and toddler products thrift store that employs disadvantaged single mothers. Belay Enterprises : a Denver faith-based no

Boaz and Ruth: Rebuilding Lives while Rebuilding a Community

In Highlands Park, one of Richmond, Virginia’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods, Boaz and Ruth, Inc. has been operating six faith venture businesses to employ and train ex-offenders transitioning back into the community while helping to economically rebuild the neighborhood. This exciting organization operates Firehouse CafĂ© and Catering , Sunny Days Clothing Thrift , Parable Furniture Restoration , Harvest Thrift Furniture , Mountain Movers , and Boaz and Ruth Estate Sales Services . Central to the organizations approach is its trademarked RestoreCorps philosophy. From their website : When someone is released from prison, a decent job, a safe home and healthy relationships are hard to come by. Add to these challenges of re-entry the fact that individuals often return to communities weighed down by the very problems and issues that help spawn crime and it is easy to understand the vicious cycle of recidivism. It is difficult to sustain long-term individual change without chan

Resolving Conflict with Respect and Love

Last year, the guys on our Bud’s Warehouse truck ran into a difficult situation. While picking up items from a residential donor, an on-site contractor decided that he was going to keep some of the cabinets for himself. And when he found out he couldn’t, he decided to pick a fight with our driver. Not a smart move. And the kind of decision that gives me heart failure when I hear about it later. You see, our driver is an ex-boxer… a good one. And over the years, he freely admits that he has struggled with his temper. This situation was ripe for a disaster. But then God showed up. Don remembered our anger management and customer service training back at the warehouse. He took a deep breath and listened to the man. And when it became clear the problem wasn’t going to be solved, he called his manager and left the scene. Don shared that story this morning during a special customer service training session by a volunteer from Morgan Stanley. We talked about how the t

The Need for Social Enterprise Start-up Venture Funds

I learned today of nobul , a new social enterprise that seeks to take a private equity approach to scaling businesses for community impact. The web site is new and promises more information soon. But I suspect they are going to be a social enterprise shining star with their soon to be announced leadership. It's interesting how many people are starting or operating similar type of portfolios. The idea is one that we have played with ourselves at Belay over the last 16 years. But one thing I’ve noticed is that everyone wants to scale existing ventures. Very few portfolios are interested in assisting social enterprise start-ups where my passion lies. Many see too much risk in that approach because of the high rate of start-up failure. Traditional venture capital uses stock options to overcome the risk of funding start-ups. One big success funds the nine other failures. But in social enterprise, that windfall model often doesn’t exist because of the non-profit structure of the

Goal Shifting Encourages Creativity

One way to inspire creativity in an organization is to declare a new goal. Late last year, we decided to move Belay’s aim from incubating a specific number of businesses in 5 years to creating 750 jobs for individuals rebuilding lives in 5 years . We wanted to drill down to the fundamental value our organization provides the Denver community. On the face of it, the old goal and the new goal accomplish the same ends. But the new focus has resulted in an interesting new idea as it has captured the imagination of key stakeholders. Over the last two weeks, I have had a former board member, Scott Pope, and two individuals from Partners Worldwide independently suggest the same idea. They urged us to encourage Christian business owners to create two or more positions in their existing businesses for ex-offenders. Scott Pope is so excited about the idea that he has volunteered to develop the strategic plan for such an effort. I’m enthusiastic about this approach. It is a way to push