A Bake Sale and Hope

by Ana Palles

A Bake Sale It was one of the most successful bake sales ever run. Donations continued arriving on pay pal long after the last of the brownies had found their way home. It was planned as an ordinary bake sale benefitting a cause. In this case, the sale supported an employee undergoing severe medical issues.

Co-workers made calls and sent emails to current and former employees, getting contributions of home baked goods to sell on behalf of their friend. Lunch hour shifts were well staffed and rotated to make sure every odd bit was sold.

It would in fact have been quite ordinary – after all, bake sales are an American institution – if not for the fact that the day of the sale happened to fall on a company layoff day. The team hosting the sale was going to be impacted by the reduction in force (RIF), but you wouldn’t have been the wiser. Instead of worrying about the message they would hear at their management meeting that morning, they gathered in the parking lot emptying cars carrying their home made treats.

From the beginning, this particular layoff day had quite an unusual air about it. Instead of deep depression and apathy, many found comfort and even a sense of peace.

Company layoffs and mismanagement are part of our current landscape. But they don’t have to dominate our view. We are not our jobs nor the company that we work for. We are much more than that. Americans love a frontier.

So it was fitting that in the midst of farewells and boxes, one of the long time Managers affected by the reduction sent out her farewell note to employees across the company. The note was a joy to read, and filled with celebration. She recounted what she had enjoyed about her job, how she had loved working there all those years making a difference and treating others with values.

But the time had come for her to play a new role and make a new mark. And it was with excitement that she wrote about starting her new business focused on service to others and living a more spiritually conscious life. It was such a beautiful note that it made its way outside the company four walls with a click of the mouse. It was exactly what many people needed to hear.

We are all much more than an employee number. And that spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship in service is the heart of the American culture. Sometimes, we just need a little reminder.

And in that day of saying goodbyes on the heels of failing banks, foreclosed homes and battered retirement accounts, employees reached into their pockets to generously help a coworker. Their charity planted hope and in some strange way, fed a little spark of faith that all is indeed well.

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