Project Experience

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

The words of Aristotle are just as applicable now as they were then, even more so. Often, we hear that building routine is what can aid our success. The routine of many has vastly changed in the last year. We might have lost our daily work to home cycles, even leisure outings were put on hold in some places. However, as we adapted new routines, work remained in the core, keeping up a routine in order to improve in our work performance until the next big challenge.

GEneration Impact is here for people who want to take on a big challenge now, a challenge that is different from their daily responsibilities and an act to selflessly contribute to the society. We connect Passionate individuals with social impact projects sourced through the GE network, individual initiatives, and established connections.

The motivated leaders express their interest to work on one of the sourced projects. The resourcing team at GEneration Impact connects the individual’s passion and skills with the most fitting project.  Project teams of, on average 3 people, are formed and work packages handed over. It is up to the team to organize, leverage their skills to fulfill the requirements set by the initiative they want to contribute to.

One of these projects is the Catie’s Closet. Catie’s Closet improves school attendance and removes social stigma by discreetly distributing clothing, toiletries, and shoes to low-income students (Pre-K through 12th grade). Catie’s Closet makes it easy and positive for students in schools to access these basic needs via a retail-like storefront. Catie’s Closet builds a “store” or “walk in closet” right inside their school so that students have immediate access to what they need, free of charge. Offering age-appropriate clothing allows students increased self-esteem, a sense of belonging and a resource to alleviate the visible burden of poverty.

In the long-term, the organization would like to partner with school districts in many states across the US. To help them, Jon Barnes, Gabrielle Ferrari, and Lewis Reuben stepped away from their routine and decided to contribute their skill to the initiative.

Jon Barnes is a CLP in GE Healthcare. The sustainable development goals caught his attention in one of the Generation Impact ambassadors’ calls. He had previous experience working on social impact projects and was keen to continue by donating his time and skill on the Catie’s Closet project. He was happy to go beyond the scope of his daily work and leave his comfort zone. Jon currently works on the “Be Me” project. Be Me is a new brand created by Catie’s closet to encourage self-expression and confidence. The goal is to use this brand on apparel sold by the local vendors who would then also donate a share of the sales towards Catie’s closet. One of the tasks is to find vendors to create and sell apparel items. “For me it was a big shift going from the healthcare field to having conversations with retailers about building a brand. I connected with the cause of Catie’s Closet and the passion CEO Mickey Cockrell exudes. We have had open conversations and laid out all the ideas on the table. It has been a lot of trial and error, taking action and learning from our experiences. Definitely a fun experience to broaden my perspective and challenge my skillsets. “

Gabriele Ferrari, is the Risk Process&Tools Manager in the PM office r at GE Renewable’s Grid  Solutions business. Within the Catie’s closet project he contributed towards creating a mobile app. The app will enable and support product donations. Each project needs to have a goal, an objective and a planning to achieve it. In a GEneration Impact project this is of even more value as the timeline of a projects is set for 3-4 months.  Gabriele stepped in with his background in product management: ‘’ Maybe software development is not my main skill but where I could contribute is with my experience bringing various projects to completion.”

Gabriele found out about the possibility to donate your time for the Generation Impact project through conversations on Yammer. As a red cross volunteer and an impressive 60 times blood/plasma/cells donor, he was eager to get onboard and make impact. “Once met with Catie’s Closet and the rest of the project team, with requirements set, it was up to us to decide how do we bring it home. “

Reuben Lewis is an Aviation Systems Edison engineer. Like Jon he hopped on the project train after an Ambassadors call. After hearing about a project revolving around building up a website for Catie’s closet he deemed it as a too good of an opportunity to pass along. He was always interested in user interface design but has never built websites. The project enabled him to expand his network out of his business while learning something new. “We’ve put together wireframes for a good portion of the pages and are working on putting the first few pages together. Communications with Catie’s Closet has been good so far. Our main contact, Mickey, is great. Her passion is inspiring! It’s also been a challenge to figure out what she wants out of the redesign. Our goal as designers is to interpret her wants and needs for the site from our discussions with her, so it’s been a good exercise in working with customers and finding their needs.”

In times when face-to-face meetings became rare creating impact virtually has added another dimension to project execution. Reuben noted: “I think the hardest thing is just making sure we’re setting deadlines and meeting them. Mickey has been gracious with our timeline, and it’s really up to us to push the schedule and get it to her. That’s been the most challenging part of the project so far. Also, with people being busy, it’s a bit hard to manage everyone’s schedules to share what they’ve been working on. Jon agrees that most of his team meetings were effective: “All of our team meetings and outside interactions have been virtual. What is lacking most with the virtual collaboration environment is having the face to face downtime with your team members where you can bond over common interests, life goals, funny stories, etc. That is the part I miss.” But not everything is black and white for Gabriele: “In the past, social impact meant only going in the field and help where needed or participate to specific events. Today you can have social impact simply sharing the knowledge in your area of expertise, even remotely.”

For the impact crated the participants are rewarded in knowledge. Jon enjoyed seeing the progress made: “My biggest takeaway is to fall in love with the process. We can become so focused on the goal and while it important we are progressing, it’s also important to enjoy the process of what we’re creating, and the work done along the way.”

When asked if he would recommend a GEneration Impact project to others, Gabriele rounds it up : “First of all you are not alone. You can decide your role in the project and when give you contribute on different kind of subjects. You meet people/colleagues with the same desire to give from different countries. You can discover stories and initiatives you have never heard that could fill your heart.”

We hope this story and participants experience will encourage you to take on some of the projects available in our portfolio!

See a project you could contribute to? Please fill our an interest form here!

Do you have a project idea? Share it with us here!

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