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working with educational charities to help children in need

Kimble Volunteer Series: Supporting and Enabling Children in Need

Kimble is proud of the volunteer work our employees do, and we encourage people to take time away from their roles and get involved with charities and community organizations. John Breul, Kimble’s VP of Alliances, explains what he has learned from long-term involvement in volunteering with educational charities.

Question: What part does volunteering play in your life?

Answer: Volunteering plays a big part in my — and my whole family’s — life. We have always placed a strong emphasis on that, to the extent that my wife and I and our three children spent three years living and working with an educational charity called Kids Alive in the Dominican Republic when the children were younger.

It is a faith-based initiative focused on the holistic recovery of children who have suffered trauma. That trauma could be abuse, neglect, or simply poverty. We were involved in supporting the first group of young people from the program to enter college. These were some amazing young people who worked hard in school and volunteered in their communities. They would attend weekly meetings at our house, to bond as a community and discuss their experiences. Very few of them knew someone who attended college.

It has been very rewarding to see them graduate — the group includes a lawyer, two dentists and several fantastic teachers who have returned to their own areas.

Question: What is your current involvement?

Answer: At the moment we are involved in an outreach centre called Harbor House that helps immigrants over the long term, to learn English, adjust to life in the US and access programs to help them find work.

As a family, we are also involved with the Lobiko initiative, which is setting up sustainable solutions such as a medical centre and the Ubangi Protestant University (UBU) in Gemena, the capital city of the Sud-Ubangi region of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Before there was a university in this area, the only way to attend one was to travel by river to Kinshasa, which was extremely hazardous.

Question: What have you learned from your experiences?

Answer: My volunteering work has definitely made me a better manager — and a better person in general — because it’s taught me so much about empathy. When we first started working in the DR where I was also teaching math and creative problem solving, I would frequently get frustrated by what I felt was slow progress. As I spent more time with the students, I began to realize the barriers to learning they faced and to realize that I had to approach teaching from a very different perspective and focus first on developing trusting relationships. I learned a lot from the students about adaptability, grace under duress, and perspective, after that.

So much more can be accomplished when relationships are given priority. It just takes more time — and that requires patience. I’m still working on this but I would be much poorer in this area without my experiences working outside my normal comfort zone.

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John Breul

VP of Alliances