I don’t work for Gap Inc. but I’ve spent a lot of time with the company’s employees – not shopping, but in the classroom.
I’m the Vice Principal of Life Learning Academy, a high school for teenagers who have been involved in the juvenile justice system or face challenges like poverty, abuse, and drugs.
The violence in their lives is emotional, raw, and real. There is nothing glamorous about it. That said, partnering with volunteers from a fashion retail company like Gap Inc. has been a perfect fit.
The reason why is because the volunteers come to share their skills - like how to communicate without using violence, how to function in team environments, and how to overcome challenges in everyday life and plan for the future.
I’ll be frank. There is no way these teenagers would respond to adults who were condescending or lecturing them. The reason why Gap Inc.volunteers have made an impact and keep coming back is because they are truly interested in mentoring.
I remember when Keith White (SVP, Loss Prevention) came to the classroom, shared his personal stories, and invited the students to his office at Gap Inc headquarters in San Francisco. That was the unlock - when a “dream” became something they could achieve for real.
Our kids are used to adults saying get out and never come back. So, you can imagine what happens when an adult says “Come in... and show me what you can do.”
(Note from the Blog Squad: Share a story with our employees about how you volunteer... on Facebook.)