Showing Kindness in Practical Ways in Brussels

Belgium associates team up with Serve the City to provide meals and comfort to homeless people

Recently, a group of associates in the Belgium office partnered with Serve the City — a nongovernmental organization (NGO) that partners with homeless shelters, refugee centers, orphanages and other associations in cities around the globe — to help spread kindness in practical waysaround the city of Brussels.

“We were looking for a meaningful way to give back to our local community while giving associates a chance to get to know each other better — especially colleagues from different teams who may not interact on a regular basis,” explained Sonia Rosu, an associate HR BU partner and one of the event organizers. “The local HR team worked with the Benelux Leadership Team and Advisory Council to plan a day during which associates would be able to make a positive impact on those in need right here in Brussels while having fun as a team.”

Divide and deliver

One group of associates headed, with paint brushes in hand, to the Rafael Centre, an intergenerational housing complex serving people in need, to help transform the building’s dreary basement into a cinema for its residents.painters-350

The rest of the associates were divided into three groups and tasked with putting together and distributing food packages filled with sandwiches, water and fruit to homeless people around the city. To move things along and have a little fun, the teams held a sandwich-making contest, competing for the title of “Most Efficient Team.” Once the food packages were ready, the teams dispersed to their designated areas of the city for delivery.sandwich-makers-350

“We were encouraged to focus on making human connections,” explained Sonia, “to understand that homeless people are not just struggling with basic survival and safety, but are often missing the social connections that will help them meet their psychological needs as individuals.”

“During the introduction to volunteering, the Serve the City staff told us an interesting story that made me think more about what kind of impact I wanted to have during the day,” she continued. “When a homeless man was asked about what was the most difficult part of his day, ‘making the time pass by’ was his answer. Homeless people are often assisted by local charities or individuals willing to help, but few connect with them on a personal level. It can be as simple as sitting down next to them and getting to know them by their names.”

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