Thursday, November 13, 2008

People Want to Get in the Game!

This morning Rob Wegner, Jack Magruder, Maribeth Rontz and I had the pleasure of meeting Mark Krammer for breakfast at Uptown Kitchen. Maribeth brokered the meeting and was excited to see how Kramer Properities and Granger Community Church could build a valued partnership.

Mark Kramer is a business entrepreneur has over 120 properties and now provides over 850 students with great off-campus housing. He cares about his properties, he cares about his tenants and he cares about his community. Mark understands the value of community by building relationships. He was sharing how he holds "block parties" each year so that neighborhood families and students can get to know each other so that when (not if) conflict occurs their first choice will be to resolve the issue through communication and not escalate the issue by "throwing gas on a small fire."

Each spring Mark has a very small window to clean and renovate each of his properties so that they will be ready for the next wave of renters. He needs people to clean and paint each of the properties and remove all of the unwanted household and school items that were left behind. In past years over 40 forty yard dumpsters have been filled to the brim with trash that could become someone else's treasures.

We think this partnership could provide;
  1. Temporary jobs and training
  2. Turning trash into cash
  3. Recycling great household items
It was interesting to watch the meeting unfold. Mark shared how perplexed he was coming to the meeting. He knew (and was told by his wife!) not to commit to adding more to his plate. He wanted to help but just didn't have the time. Once Mark realized he had something of great value and could give it without adding more to his already busy schedule he got excited. You could almost see the twinkle in his eye - the spark of an entrepreneur that knew he was about to help launch something that could become great - and this time it was for bringing a little piece of Kingdom to his neck of the woods. I think Mark realized that God had shaped him just as he is and maybe even more importantly use him mightily just right where he was at.

Now, that alone was worth the price of breakfast!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

One Great Meal, Even Better Conversation

This week the Life Mission team along with our senior pastor Mark Beeson had the privilege of meeting with the executive management team of Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. As an organization they are not only interested in providing the most amazing dining experience for their patrons but they want to actively engage in each community where they have a restaurant. Last August they opened their first store in Granger on University Drive just east of the GCC campus.

They invited us over to a private luncheon and served us one amazing meal. They wanted to hear about what we were doing in the community and how they might be able to help with that effort both with employee time and financial support.

We were given the VIP tour, heard the story how a single mom named Ruth Fertel purchased a steak house (Chris' Steak House) 65 years ago in New Orleans in order to help provide her family a better life. We ate, laughed and shared stories. It was an honor getting the chance to sit next to Mark and hear him share how he and Sheila started the church - I have probably heard the story hundreds of times and never tire of listening to it. It reminded me of how the Israelites probably passed along their oral history from generation to generation. I was inspired to listen to Rob Wagner share our story on missions - from downtown South Bend to southern India. I added my small part but was simply fascinated to watch the meeting unfold. It was motivating to hear the leadership of Ruth's Chris share the critical need for their people and their organization to become embedded into a community. It was right out of a Jim Collin's book on how good organizations become great organizations.

Where's it going? Don't know yet. But it felt comfortable. It felt like we had a common goal even though our organizational purposes were vastly different. If nothing else I'd love to learn how they make each and every guest that walks through their front door feel like the most special person in the world. If we could transfer that "special feeling" to every guest that walks into Granger Community Church or the Monroe Circle Community Center we could really be on to something!