Healthy Competition

Aimee VandenElzen (Team Lead - Product Development)


Kids' Food Basket - Disher Team 1
The Disher team, with some family members, are assembling sack suppers for children that are food insecure.

What’s the first thing that pops into your mind when you think back to the month of March? The NCAA March Madness tournament, perhaps? For years companies have organized heated bracket-picking tournaments. I’ve been involved in this friendly, little competition from the days when we used highlighters to mark winners and losers and excel spreadsheets to tally points. Now all you need to do is click to send an invite to your group and a software program keeps track of not only the points but the probability of winning based on future picks. The most amusing aspect to me is the trash talking among the true basketball aficionados, and the fact that they rarely ever win. The winner is typically a person who knows nothing about basketball… someone who picks the winning teams based on a fun college name like Gonzaga, Chattanooga, or the never heard of Mid Tennessee.

At Disher, we love competition… and March Madness highlights this cultural characteristic within our team. It is not enough for Disher employees to merely hold the annual office NCAA bracket competition. No, we can’t just sit back and watch the tournament unfold. We need to be actively competing in something ourselves. Hence, the annual Disher March Madness Ping-Pong Tournament was born. This is a very serious event with less upsets than the NCAA, because we know who the good ping pongers are amongst us.

Kids' Food Basket - Disher Team 2
Pete Mokris and one of Aimee VandenElzen’s children watch another volunteer group.

When Disher heard about the March Community Partner Challenge event at the Kids’ Food Basket (KFB) it totally fit who we are! Kids’ Food Basket (KFB) is an amazing organization that combats childhood hunger. KFB-Holland presented a challenge to local companies in the Holland, Michigan area. Companies could earn points for volunteering, collecting wish list items, and decorating lunch bags. Since stewardship is also one of Disher’s core cultural characteristics, the opportunity to compete and be good stewards was too good to pass up. Disher employees are challenged to practice good stewardship in the communities where we work, live, and serve. It is a privilege for every Disher employee to give at least 20 hours of community service/stewardship per year.

Kim Blackburn and Aimee VandenElzen co-chaired the KFB competition for team Disher. Lunch bags were passed out to be decorated, a large box to collect food items was placed in the kitchen, and a volunteer sign-up list was created. During the month of March, over 30 different Disher employees and family members participated in the competition by volunteering at the Holland KFB location. Approximately 499 pounds of food were collected, and stacks upon stacks of lunch bags were decorated by Disher teammates and families.

Kids' Food Basket - Disher Team 3
Many groups and individuals decorate the sack supper bags. Many children keep their custom designed bags!

According to Annastasia Bonczyk, KFB – Holland Program Coordinator, the competition was fierce. Disher was honored to “compete” alongside Herman Miller, IPA Partners, and Lighthouse Insurance. In the end, it was the brown bag decorating that sealed the win for Herman Miller with Disher coming in a close second. But, we will be back!

Kids’ Food Basket has become a favorite stewardship ministry for Disher employees. The second and fourth Mondays of every month, four Disher volunteers head to KFB during the noon hour. “It’s very rewarding to spend this hour of service with co-workers. During this time we get to know each other a little better while making a positive difference in our community,” stated one Disher volunteer. “At Disher, we have plenty of opportunity all around us to be good stewards. In the end, the difference we make will be based on the lives around us that have been changed for the better.”

Kids' Food Basket - Disher Team 4
The Disher team filled several hundred sack suppers. The Holland Kid’s Food Basket supplies nearly 450 meals each weekday.

About Kids’ Food Basket… One in five Michigan children experience meal instability. Kids’ Food Basket helps nourish children to be their best, in school and in life. Through their Sack Supper program, they attack childhood hunger by providing nutritious evening meals to kids, and engaging our community through volunteering and education. KFB is the largest organization in West Michigan focused solely on childhood hunger. They have three locations: Grand Rapids, Muskegon, and Holland. To learn more about KFB and join Disher in supporting their cause, please visit Kids Food Basket. We invite you to compete with us in the next community partner challenge—bring it on!

Written By: Aimee VandenElzen – Team Lead – Product Development |
Aimee has a BS in Engineering and an MBA with over 25 years of product launch and leadership experience. She is passionate about communication, diversity and inclusion to create workplaces where people thrive and feel connected! Two things that bring her absolute joy… reading a real book printed on paper, and cooking up multiple course meals for friends!

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