Interconnectedness. It’s a big word, with even bigger implications.
Nothing happens in a vacuum. Our workplace culture is based on this idea. All your decisions have consequences, whether it’s for you, a coworker, or a client. You decision will eventually affect someone else’s decision, or their ability to make a decision. Your choices can help provide or take away choices for other people. This is why it’s important to be mindful of the way your actions could impact other people down the road, for good or ill.
Why am I talking about this? Because it plays into the way we’re shifting our focus as an organization.
WHO WE ARE
You know us as an organization whose goal is to keep pets and people together. The way we’ve done that is by offering low cost vaccinations and spay/neuter surgeries to make the basics of caring for a pet affordable.
Over the 18 years we’ve been around, that part hasn’t changed. As time went on, we realized that part of what we needed to do as a small nonprofit was find people where they were, so we started an outreach department. It’s grown into the largest it’s ever been here in the past year, and we’re looking to 2020 to impact even more pets and pet owners through their work.
We had a realization. We’d always thought of our organization as a spay/neuter and vaccination clinic that had an outreach group as a part of it.
But that’s all wrong, we’ve realized. We’re an outreach organization with a spay/neuter and vaccination clinic.
The difference between those two? Everything.
See, when we talk about outreach, we’ve talked about it like it’s separate from what we do, even though part of what we do in outreach takes place in the clinic. But what we’ve discovered is that empowering our staff, no matter what part of the building they work in, to think of themselves as members of an outreach organization instead of a clinic, we end up doing a lot more good.
Considering ourselves an outreach organization means we go to work every day and know that we’re doing everything we can to keep pets and people together, that we aren’t going to turn someone away. It means that we’re all looking out for the community, for our neighbors.
WE ARE ALL OUTREACH
From the moment a potential client calls us, we’re keeping an eye out for ways to help. People don’t always offer up that they need help. The shame our society piles on people who are struggling for themselves or others can be incredibly strong. Why ask for help and be judged? Why ask for help and feel debased, as though you are lesser? Why speak your troubles? Doesn’t that make them more real, more tangible?
It may. But it may also get you the help you need. It may help you make a connection with a person or organization that’s providing exactly what you need. When our customer service staff see folks with an old collar on their dog, we ask if they’d like a sturdier one. When a tech sees folks struggling with a rambunctious young pup, we mention our incredibly affordable puppy training classes. When we see a client who’s struggling to pay, we talk to them about their situation and try to work things out.
Even our customer reward programs are geared toward outreach. Coming in with a new pup’s first round of boosters? You’ll get a punch card; when you get all your boosters with us, the pup gets a basic spay/neuter surgery for free. Find a kitten on the street that’s under six months old but ready for the rabies round of kitten shots? You’ll get a coupon to get that kitten fixed for $25. Why? Because we have a lobby full of people trying to do the right thing. Why shouldn’t we help them as best we can?
We are an organization that provides resources, and one of the resources we provide is ourselves. From call center to vet techs to volunteers to veterinarians to front desk to me back here in marketing, we all have the power to provide education, resources, and access to wellness services for pet owners.
When a call center employee takes a call from a pet owner who needs to get their pet fixed but can’t really afford it, and sets them up for subsidized services, they’re in outreach.
When a client brings their new puppy in and is at a loss for what supplies they need, what food they should feed, or even where to begin, that’s doing outreach work.
When one of our techs notices a bump on a dog and the owner says they’d like to get it checked out but can’t afford a full-service vet, and the tech has the vet take a look so they can give a recommendation, that’s outreach work.
When one of the veterinarians takes time to sit with a pet owner after a spay/neuter surgery to talk to them in more detail about some of the health issues they noticed during surgery, that’s outreach.
We all have the power to create change in our community. Every single one of us at SNKC feels empowered to reach out when someone needs help. Even in our off time; I’ve spent hours talking with folks about their pets, about what they need, what the benefits of getting their pets fixed are, how to approach the topic with their parents/partner who’s against the idea.
It’s more than what we do; it’s who we are.