Community Service

Nothing’s Random About These Acts of Kindness

'We were looking for something different; something unexpected.'

February 18, 2014
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55 Acts of Kindness Animal Shelter

They surprised assisted living residents with an impromptu sing along, delivered muffins and snacks to local police and fire departments, brought snacks and books to daycare centers, and picked up the tab for meals at restaurants and fill-ups at gas stations.

But these good deeds were far from random.

For the second straight year, employees at Complex Community Federal Credit Union brought International Credit Union Day to life in the Texas communities they serve by committing “55 Intentional Acts of Kindness” on Oct. 17—one for every year of the $378 million asset credit union’s existence.

“We were tired of the standard cake and punch in the lobby. We were looking for something different, something unexpected,” says Lisa Wyman, vice president of marketing and human resources at Complex Community Federal, which is based in Odessa, Texas.

“We sat down as a team and asked, ‘What do you think of when you think of credit unions?’ We hit on the idea that it’s all about people helping people— making a difference in their everyday lives.”


All 130 employees from the credit union’s nine branches participated, requiring no shortage of coordination since, as Wyman noted, “We still have a business to run.”

Complex Community Federal’s ambassadors make their presence known by wearing customized T-shirts and engaging interested members of the community about the credit union’s philosophy, products, and services.

But they avoiding being pushy, making a point of not interrupting people as they dined. Instead, they relied on wait staff to pass cards to the lucky recipients of free meals, proclaiming they’re “victims” of these acts of kindness.

“The aftereffect doesn’t linger for just a day or two,” Wyman says. “The employees are still talking about it, and they’ve run into someone in the supermarket who’ll say, ‘Hey, your credit union bought my donut!’”

The Intentional Acts of Kindness event has become part of the culture at Complex Community Federal, which already has fielded employee suggestions for the 56 acts staff will commit this October.

“I don’t think we’ll ever stop,” Wyman says. “I can’t imagine how we’ll handle 75, but we’ll figure it out!”

A Culture of Kindness

Mark Arnold
February 18, 2014 9:19 am
This is such a great example of credit unions giving back. The key with Complex Community is that they don't just do these acts of kindness just to do them. They are a part of their culture (as you noted). Before starting a similar program, other credit unions should do a deep dive into their culture and then match their program to who they are.

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory ( will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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