Support for 400 food bank clients included in excellence training

As part of the training in the Lean Six Sigma (L6S) program, a Black Belt team from Functional Chemicals decided to support the poorest families in the Amersfoort area in the Netherland. Apart from organizing a summer barbeque for the clients of the local food bank, the motivated team assisted the food bank with the assembly of no less than 400 boxes of food and other household supplies for the same number of families.

Lean Six Sigma is a methodology used in four Specialty Chemicals Units to help our employees to become operationally excellent. In various modules ranging from Brown, Green, to Black and even Master Black Belts, the participants are trained to become experts in the process of continuous improvement of our businesses. During one of the training weeks of a Black Belt team from Functional Chemicals, the idea came up to contribute to the reduction of waste in a social context, a Community Program activity. As their colleagues from Industrial Chemicals were already in touch with the Food Bank in Amersfoort about organizing a barbeque, they were contacted to see what more could be done. Our Black Belts soon learned how welcome any helping hand can be. As one of the team members, Ronald Wams confirmed afterwards: ‘We never imagined it would be so welcome and rewarding. Our international team learned about the Food Bank, its volunteers, its approach, the purpose, the need and the ability to do something’.

Weekly about 400 families collect packages which have been carefully assembled by the regular volunteers at the food bank. Extra helping hands are always very much welcomed and the Functional Chemicals volunteers took up the task of putting together 400 boxes of four different types. Under the expert leadership of the food bank and with guidance of Master Black Belts and Program Directors from both Industrial Chemicals as well as Functional Chemicals, the task turned out to be challenging, fun and a good practical exercise of a Lean process. L6S Program Director for Functional Chemicals, June Donka is determined to make this kind of volunteering work a task that will be repeated in upcoming Black Belt trainings. ’Here is a need, we can provide and learn at the same time – a triple-win situation’, she said enthusiastically.

Fortunately the weather helped in the next week when the planned barbeque for the clients of the food bank was organized. A team of volunteers from Industrial and Functional Chemicals started early to set up everything that was needed to have a proper barbeque. A musician who had heard about this initiative offered to take care of the music for free. Around six o’clock the invited clients were welcomed by our volunteering employees, who served drinks, looked after the salads and handled the barbeques. The warm weather, the nice music and good food contributed to create a real party. After a while, people of all different cultures were talking and dancing together and enjoying the evening. The impact of these events on the participants is quite substantial which is underlined by a lady who came up to one of the volunteers to thank them by saying: ‘This was one of the best days in my life’.

Our volunteers did not stop here and another group took 50 children of the poor families to visit the zoo in August. Our volunteers in Amersfoort have really made a difference to these people’s lives that have been affected by the economic crisis and have to struggle with such little incomes.

Plans for Christmas are in the making and with support from the Community Program our motivated Lean Six Sigma participants will no doubt help bring a little bit of light to those who are less fortunate in these dark times.