Too many people judge their level of success in life by the kind of club they belong to. They use some club membership they’ve attained to generate some kind of positive “buzz” about the people they know, the things they have achieved, or the income level they’ve reached. So what? Is that really success?
Lately, I’ve been spending time at a new kind of club — one that has those other clubs beat. These days, my team and I have been getting together at a place called the Carver Ranches Club.
Now, a trip to this Club is definitely not like a trip to any other club you’ve ever been to. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the Carver Ranches Boys and Girls Club sits in one of the most economically depressed areas of Broward County … and serves a neighborhood with one of the worst scores for poverty and highest score for single female-headed households in the entire state of Florida.
Three months ago, the Zimmerman team working with our parent company, Omnicom, decided that the Carver Ranches Club was both the most deserving project and the place where we could have the most positive impact. Our creative team did what we always do: find out how the client defines success. Our people did a walk-through of the place, met directly with the kids who used the Club most, and got their take on what they wanted. What the kids wanted was great: images of more kids that looked like them; bright colors; inspirational sayings; and, last but not least, a jolt of energy and excitement.
Our team started brainstorming; the teams were rallied; the creative was done, submitted, and approved. Then, last weekend, it was finally time for us to move on to the facility, where ZA would lead a team of volunteers from multiple organizations, execute on our best ideas … and transform our chosen corner of the Club.
We sponsored a major makeover of the Art Room. We had singled out that room because we really wanted to provide an environment for big thinking, a place where the kids could express themselves, tap into their own creativity, and spend some time in a place where anything was possible. You want to create a tree with purple leaves and a red trunk? You’ve come to the right place. No one is going to say “No” to you in this room! Now that’s real success. The way I see it, everybody ought to be competing to get into this kind of club: the club where you can have a great time, come together as a team, do your fair share, and know, at the end of the day, that you’ve given something back to the neighborhood, the nation, or the globe.
Inspiring stuff, right? Unfortunately, though, there is a downside to this story. According to the US Department of Labor Statistics, only about one-quarter of all Americans do any kind of volunteer work at all. That number pisses me off, and I hope it pisses you off, too …. because it means three out of four functional grownups are doing exactly nothing to give back to their communities. And that sucks.
So if you happen to be waiting for someone else to give something back, make something better, or fix a local problem that needs fixing…please check in the nearest mirror. That’s where you’re going to find the only individual who can actually make a difference. That’s your admission to The Club.
Robert Stolpe Photography: Carver Ranches Boys and Girls Club of Broward County one-day makeover by OmnicomCares and Zimmerman Advertising.