How a Denver-based Business “Walked” to Tanzania and Back for Clean Water
Earlier this year, President Jordan Jackson of a Denver-based security company called Security Central was casting about for a summer physical fitness challenge for his employees. Security Central had a routine of volunteering locally before the COVID-19 pandemic, but lockdown put a stop to that. Jackson was looking for an idea to help get back on track with giving as well as activity.
While sitting in a meeting with his leadership team, Jackson posed the idea that Security Central’s 45 employee team could collectively log 9,000 miles between Memorial Day and Labor Day. He asked for input.
One employee opened their laptop and punched 9,000 miles into Google maps. “Nine thousand miles is approximately the distance from Denver to Africa,” they said.
Jackson knew about Lifewater and their work to provide clean water to communities in Africa. He realized, “We could put purpose to these steps that we’re asking people to get out and do every day.” Suddenly the idea came together:
Security Central would try to walk 9,000 miles to Tanzania, where Lifewater has many villages awaiting sponsorship for clean water.
The Vision: To Provide Clean Water and Encourage Staff Activity
As Jackson wrote in an email to his team, “When we reach that milestone, your Security Central impact dollars will sponsor the drilling of a $25,000 well by Lifewater, and the lives in the Tanzanian village will be changed for generations to come.”
Jackson’s vision of success was two-fold: to provide clean water to people who desperately need it, and to encourage his staff to increase their activity, no matter their baseline.
As a company, Security Central’s motto is to “make the world a safer place and a better place,” so this kind of program is not unusual for the organization. Every month each employee receives an amount of “impact dollars” to donate to the charity of their choosing, via an app called Co.tribute. The company will even match funds if the employee chooses to give from their own bank account.
A Resounding Success
Almost 100 percent of Security Central’s staff has participated in the “Trek to Tanzania,” as the effort has been dubbed. It has been incredibly successful, so successful that, as they neared Africa far ahead of their Labor Day goal, Jackson decided to tack on a few extra miles.
He told his staff that if they could collectively walk, cycle, swim, and run the 9,000 miles back to Denver by Sept. 6, they would have a party. As of August 2, 2021 Security Central is halfway back to Denver, paddling somewhere off the Atlantic Coast of North America, and a group celebration has already been scheduled.
There are a few features that Security Central included to make the project as easy and intuitive as possible. They used an app called MoveSpring, which integrates with a wide variety of fitness watches and trackers and measures aggregate performance. They also provided a fitness tracker to anyone who did not already have one. Finally, they invited every employee to find a partner to move with them. This partner was provided a fitness tracker if they needed it, and their mileage contributed to the cross-continental journey.
Positive Impact on Both Sides of the Atlantic
Jackson wanted his staff to experience benefits as well, even though the primary goal was to fund a well. About half of his staff took him up on the partner offer, and several of them have experienced radical improvements in their physical fitness as a result of the Trek to Tanzania.
“Everything we do should revolve around trying to positively impact other people’s lives,” Jackson said in an interview. Talking to him, it is clear that he means it.
When the Security Central team reached Tanzania, Jackson gave water bottles to everyone that say, “I walked 9,000 miles to bring clean water to Tanzania.” He had his staff line up and come forward, and as he filled their bottles one by one he told them that this was the difference that they had made for one village across the ocean: safe, accessible water poured right into their hands.
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