Integrity, service and teamwork are at the center of everything MMI Textiles does, extending beyond working with customers and hiring employees to supporting its community.
“Giving back not only goes with our core values, but it also provides an opportunity to work as a team to affect and impact the lives of others less fortunate. It is an incredibly rewarding and humbling experience,” says Amy Bircher, president and founder of the Westlake, Ohio-based company, an industrial and custom textile supplier for military and tactical, medical and commercial applications.
Once each quarter, employees commit to a cause and spend the day volunteering. With fewer than 20 employees total, MMI usually splits the day into two shifts so business as usual can continue. “There is so much pride and emotion that comes when I can look at the people I work with every day and see them so happy to make a difference and so genuinely engaged in those volunteer efforts,” Bircher says.
The company serves organizations as diverse as its employees, ranging from nonprofits Honor Flight, Wounded Warriors and the Salvation Army to local organizations such as Edna House and Cleveland Sight Center. “We like to keep it different each time, and there are many opportunities to serve in the Cleveland area,” says Katie Seel, marketing coordinator.
In May, MMI Textiles volunteered at the Greater Cleveland’s Habitat for Humanity ReStore, a thrift store that accepts new and gently used donations of furniture, appliances, home décor and building supplies from the public.
“We were there to do anything they needed,” Seel says, which included breaking up furniture that couldn’t be refurbished, working at the loading dock and measuring, rolling, and pricing rugs and carpet. “We could just tell how appreciative they were,” Seely says. “We got a lot of ‘thank-you’s’ and comments about how well we worked together as a team.”
In September, the company partnered with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland, which provides children in need a safe place to grow, learn and realize their full potential. Three groups of employees participated on three different days, playing basketball and other games with the children in the gym, or getting creative with arts and crafts.
“We had a blast interacting with the kids and learning about them and their interests. It was great to see the facility and everything they do for kids ages six to 18,” Seely says. “They offer not only after-school programming but also opportunities for the kids to learn valuable leadership and life skills.”
These events make a difference to community members, and they also enhance the employees’ work environment. “Volunteering has the added benefit of team building; people step out of their comfort zone and work together,” says Debbie Grant, director of marketing and business services. “You end up not only feeling better about yourself, but the place you work, and it ends up being such a positive experience that resonates throughout the office for days after the actual event.”
Holly Eamon is an editor and writer based in Minneapolis, Minn.