Submitted by Trey McAlister, Executive Director of BNI Northern California.
On November 8, 2018, one of the most devastating fires in U.S. history broke out in Butte County. When all was said and done, not only were hundreds of thousands of acres burned, but thousands of homes were destroyed including approximately 70-80% of the town of Paradise, CA.
Now, we at the BNI Northern CA office had personally experienced the Santa Rosa fires less than a year before AND had experienced fires around our Members in Redding CA in August. However, as a result of the Butte County Camp Fire, the impact on our BNI member community was exponential.
When all was said and done, 21 BNI families (out of roughly 300 Members regionwide) in the Chico and Paradise area lost their homes (and about a 1/3 lost their business/offices also). Needless to say, the need for everything was extraordinary. As is typical, the BNI family reached out and started providing incredible support right out of the gate.
As we were just coming into the holiday season, an idea materialized about creating a “Secret Santa” program for all of these affected families. While the BNI community had already been assisting through the provision of “essentials”, this program would take it a step further. We wanted to provide these families a sense of normalcy by providing more recreational or “fun” items.
As we continued to plan this initiative, our office began hearing from a number of Members, chapters, AND regions about how they could help. Once this “Secret Santa” idea materialized, we reached out to these folks to let them know what we were planning. I am pleased to report that the response and results were exceptional!
From the response we were able to pair up not one, but TWO sponsoring groups (Members, chapters, or regions) for EACH family. A few of our Members in Chico even helped to extend this initiative beyond the Northern CA region. Danielle Vogel of DK Web Design and Don Krause of Caliber Home Loans coordinated the distribution of gifts from “sponsors” outside of the affected area. An incredible gesture that helped make the holidays a lot brighter for those who lost everything.
BNI Northern CA would like to thank the following for their generosity to our families:
- Abhishikhaa Bhadouriva
- Abundant Referral Circle Chapter
- Bailey Family
- BNI By the Bay Chapter
- Brook Terhune and the Referral Machine Chapter
- Carmel Valley Chapter
- Carrie Rice Family
- Contra Costa Business Referral Network Chapter
- Daniel Canales and Rivertown Chapter
- Danielle Wagoner Family
- Dawn Lyons and Mike Macedonio – BNISFBay
- Deborah Fisher
- Ed Wilson and Katherine Lodal – BNI San Diego
- Escondido Chapter
- Jayda Zemansky Aflac Insurance
- Karen Reynolds
- Laura Reoch
- Living the Dream Chapter
- Melissa Donald
- Mo Shaban Family
- Robin Schuckmann – BNI Oregon
- SD Synergy Chapter
- Soandy Billionaires Chapter
- Susan Schwartz-Solano County Chapters
- Tim and Charlene Mayclin
- Tom Fleming – BNI Gainesville
- Wave of Success Chapter
- Zemansky Insurance Services
Here are just a few of the comments and notes from the families:
“We received multiple gifts from Secret Santas. Thank you, BNI, and the Santas for all you have done!”
“We were overwhelmed with the presents you left. “Secret Santa” went well beyond what could be expected. The effort you put into this project was enormous and very much appreciated. Thank you very much.”
“Oh, Wow!! BNI has been so amazing! And now there’s even more?!”
“When I went to the UPS store to get my package, I wasn’t at all sure what was happening. When I saw the gift, which replaced a dear object that I had lost, I went out to my car and cried for at least 10 minutes.”
“Our family cannot thank you and BNI enough for your generosity with the BNI Secret Santa and elves spoiling us. We will continue to pay all of the kindness forward.”
“Thank you for the gifts and cards. They are a BIG help and gave us lots of hope and joy receiving them. I love the plaques.”
As someone who has been a part of this organization for almost 18 years, I understand that BNI is a worldwide organization that helps businesses generate more business from referrals. However, what most people out there don’t realize is that it is SO MUCH MORE…..
The outpouring of the folks mentioned above was unparalleled. They supported numerous families, of which many they didn’t even know. Their willingness to take time and money to help affected families across the region unveils the true power of BNI. Givers Gain is not just a saying or even a Core Value…it is the essence of their beings and these folks embodied it. It was an amazing display of generosity over the holiday season.
Thank you BNI!
BNI Northern CA