The Importance of Community Support

Posted by Pamela Wong

CommunityOne characteristic of high-performing organizations is their active support of their communities, an area to address found in item 1.2 of the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence. I dare say that most, if not all, Baldrige Award winners stand out in this way; today I’d like to focus on two organizations—a new recipient and a Baldrige veteran.

The first is Schneck Medical Center (SMC), a 2011 award recipient in Seymour, Indiana. SMC collaborates with local community agencies such as the health department, Red Cross, and United Way to conduct a biannual assessment of community health needs. Through the strategic planning process, SMC analyzes the needs and prioritizes its opportunities for involvement.

One way its staff members serve the local community is through donations, which have increased 14 percent over the last three years, to the United Way. In addition, staff members have donated portions of their earnings back to the SMC Foundation, which has funded projects such as a heliport that enables rapid transporting of patients to level 1 trauma centers and $250,000 toward construction of the hospital’s cancer center. SMC also provides many no-cost health screenings, health education programs, and health fairs to residents in the local area.

Another example of community support is that of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, the only service organization to receive the award twice, in 1992 and 1999. Ritz-Carlton’s Community Footprints program, formed as an actual nonprofit organization, funds its workforce’s efforts to give back to its communities all around the world. The employees focus on hunger and poverty relief, environmental conservation, and the well-being of children.

At our own Quest for Excellence Conference a few years ago, Ritz-Carlton partnered with us on a work project at Boys” Town in Washington, DC. A recent example is its partnership with America’s Promise Alliance’s Grad Nation campaign, which seeks to end our nation’s dropout crisis. The hotel company connects students to Ritz-Carlton employees through “career exploration modules” that help students understand the importance of continuing their education and provide training in life skills.

SMC and the Ritz-Carlton both serve their communities, but in different ways. What determines those ways? SMC’s mission is “to provide quality health care to all we serve.” The hospital’s community service helps fulfill that mission. The concept of strategic challenges wasn’t part of the Criteria when Ritz-Carlton won the award in 1999; however, that concept may be behind the hotel company’s involvement in education.

Service organizations often find that having a qualified workforce is a strategic challenge; by exposing high schoolers to job opportunities within the hotel industry and encouraging them to graduate, Ritz-Carlton is helping to prepare its future workforce.

Do you have examples to share of how your organization supports its key communities?

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About Pamela Wong

I've been on staff with the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program since 2006, and I work as a writer and editor. A new area of my focus is communications--getting word out about the tremendous value that Baldrige creates for organizations and the U.S. economy. My husband and I have three children who are young adults, ages 24, 22, and 19. We also enjoy our lovable 14 1/2-year-old Jack Russell terrier named Max.
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