This past weekend, several members of our Executive MBA format participated in Building Goodness in April, and annual partnership between Darden students and the Building Goodness Foundation. Brendan Miniter (EMBA ’16) shares a few words about his experience being a part of the work:
“What we need is a sledgehammer.” And there it was, six words I thought I would never hear in earnest at Darden.
We were a few hours into a volunteer project at the Barrett Early Learning Center — an institution in Charlottesville that provides essential day-care and educational services to local kids – and in the process of putting in posts for a new fence, we came across a chunk of concrete. We knew it had to go, but it was the size of a small engine block and likely outweighed any one of us.
The project was part of an annual event called Building Goodness in April (BGiA), which is a partnership between Darden students and the Building Goodness Foundation. This year BGiA adopted nine projects around Charlottesville (seven private residences and two non-profits). Each section at Darden adopts one project, so the event is an opportunity for everyone within the Darden community (whether in the full-time or executive format) to form new friendships while giving back.
For us – the six representatives from the EMBA program – giving back meant taking out a concrete impediment. Someone had the great idea of trying to break the block into pieces, so with a large hammer we delivered our best blows.
Somewhere along the way – digging fence posts by hand, painting a fence in the blazing hot sun, and, yes, hammering away at a seemingly immovable object – it became clear that BGiA is aptly named. What started as a project to help a day-care center turned into an opportunity to build other forms of goodness. We had three full-timers join our efforts to paint a never ending stretch of fence, and we knew we were part of a larger Darden initiative to help the community. But what we didn’t consider was that we would also learn a few things about ourselves. There is an inherent goodness in the human soul, and seeing it come out allows for strong friendships to form. In the process, you feel yourself grow closer to each other, to Darden, and to the community at large.
I would like to say that cracking open that concrete opened a window into ourselves and unleashed good things for the kids at the day-care center. But on this day, the shovel proved mightier than the hammer — we never did crack the block apart, so we just kept digging until we could roll it away. But perhaps that is a better metaphor. Sometimes to build, you need to dig deep. The kids at the day-care center are building a brighter future every day through education. Fortunately, Darden gave us an opportunity to perhaps help them along while learning a few things along the way.
You can learn more about the Building Goodness in April club at Darden by clicking here.