Christmas in August
For 25th anniversary, company surprises kids with new bikes
(pictured above: The kids prepare to ride their new bikes.)
Eight children from The Salvation Army’s Boys and Girls International Club on New Walkertown Road received brand new bicycles (and helmets) last week – gifts from a company that is celebrating its silver anniversary with benevolence.
PhoneTree, which provides automated messaging services to businesses, faith organizations and nonprofits, presented the bikes to the jubilant kids on Aug. 19 at its downtown headquarters. CEO A.J. DiBianca said the company would dedicate the entire week to service. Plans were announced for employees to raise money and trek in the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk and collect supplies for the Forsyth Humane Society and Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools.
PhoneTree was birthed in a living room. Today, it has 50 employees and an office perched high up in the Winston Tower. DiBianca said his employees have much to do with the company’s success and longevity.
“It is all about the people that you work with,” he said. “If you get good people, people who care and are not blaming each other for how things go wrong, you can get to 25 years.”
PhoneTree employees assembled the bikes themselves earlier in the day. Adult leaders from the International Club escorted the youngsters to PhoneTree under the guise of attending a party.
The children – who were chosen because they had no bikes – were beyond excited when they saw a bikes with each of their names on them. Aided by PhoneTree employees, they broke-in their new wheels on the 18th floor of Winston Tower.
“It feels great to get a new bike,” said Noe Cebrero. “This is my third bike. The first one was too small and it would hit my knees all the time. The wheels on the bigger bike I had went flat.”
The 8-year-old said he was looking forward to riding a bike that fit him.
M’mory Gripper, 6, said that the purple and neon colors on her bike were pretty cool. She was also pumped that she’d graduated to a more mature bike.
“I like it, and it does not have training wheels,” M’mory said. “I like riding.”
The kids’ excitement was only matched by the employees’.
“What better way to give back to the community than a whole week of team-building with the company?” said Tas Turner, a customer support representative who has been with the company for nine years. “It is wonderful and probably one of the best weeks this year.”
Sales Executive Bonita Kersey said the spirit and desire to give is something she shares with the company.
“That is something that is important to me on an individual basis, so to have a company that shares that same sense of giving makes me feel good,” she said.
Human Resources Manager Liz Cook organized the week’s activities – which also included a wellness fair and a 1980s-theme day for employees. She said the feedback she has received has been positive.
“You get tied up in your day-ins and your day-outs, and you don’t realize that there are people out there who have it worse than you,” Cook said. “We are lucky to have a great place to work with a great CEO. It is important for any organization to give back to the community to promote that.”