How serious is Timberland about service? Consider that the company has a department dedicated solely to Social Enterprise, and also created a significant corporate award to honor community service, and then named that award after Congressman John Lewis of Georgia, a man who has dedicated his life to protecting human rights and securing personal dignity. We'd say Timberland takes service very, very seriously indeed. Take our word for it, social enterprise is a critical part of every Timberland employee's life.
According to Leslie Bonnyman of Timberland, "Congressman Lewis is beloved by the Timberland community because he is living proof of what a life dedicated to social justice can mean. His commitment to the values the company holds dear -- seen both in his legacy work as a lion of the Civil Rights Movement and in his work today as a Congressman from Georgia -- reminds us that individuals have the power to effect positive change.
"John Lewis' courage and compassion exhort us to be courageous and compassionate. In a world where heroes are few and far between -- but sorely needed -- he stands in a rare place. We are honored to have this kinship with Congressman Lewis and to be able to present an award in his name that celebrates the values he embodies."
Last week, Jeff Schwartz, CEO of Timberland, was preparing to present the inaugural John Lewis Award to Neil Padden, a Timberland account executive from Texas. The John Lewis Award recognizes the exceptional service leadership of a member of Timberland's U.S. sales organization.
As Schwartz was making the announcement, Congressman Lewis himself strode onto the stage, stunning the crowd of Timberland folk at the company's national sales meeting, and leaving Schwartz nearly speechless. Lewis heard of the award and was so touched and honored by it that he made a special flight from Washington D.C. to Phoenix, simply to be on hand when it was presented.
As Congressman Lewis presented the award to Padden (photo viewable only in the article online), he stated, â€œI am moved by this award because it seeks out the extraordinary leadership of ordinary people. Neil's exemplary leadership represents the best of what is in each of us -- and the hope for what can be.â€
When asked how he felt about Lewis flying in just for the award and then flying back out to quickly return to Washington, Padden told SNEWS, "I was shocked. I think it really speaks to Timberland's commitment and his commitment to social justice. It shows how important this is to him. He didn't HAVE to fly out here. In fact, all his life, he's done things not because he had to, but because he felt they were right."
Padden was recognized for his outstanding commitment to strengthening communities through service. A resident of Addison, Texas, he volunteers regularly at the Ronald McDonald House of Dallas Inc., which provides a â€œhome-away-from-homeâ€ for families of seriously ill children who are receiving treatment at nearby hospitals.
As Timberland's 2003 John Lewis Award recipient, Padden will designate $5,000 to be donated to the non-profit of his choice. Timberland will make a matching donation to The John Lewis Scholarship Fund, a program that fosters the ethic of social justice.
"Working with the Ronald McDonald House in Dallas has had a profound impact on me," said Padden. "It has enabled me to put a name, face and story with community service, and be able to see the direct, positive impact on a particular family. These are people just like us. John Lewis has dedicated his entire life to causes of social justice. For me to be given an award in his name for my work with Ronald McDonald House moves me beyond words."