Recognizing Diamond Dave
by Sarah, Photos by Jim Park on Wednesday Nov 10, 2010
Regular readers of our blog will know that Eclipse Awards is situated in what is often referred to as Canada’s poorest area code. While there are a number of different ways to qualify this phrase, it is generally agreed that Vancouver’s Downtown East Side has a reputation for being a bit rough around the edges.
About 3 years ago, when Eclipse Awards was looking to move to a larger space, many of us thought this would be the perfect time to move "up”, so to speak, and out to some industrial area where the property is less expensive and the population more affluent. However, staying true to character, Toby did not take the obvious route but instead, insisted on staying in this neighbourhood of Strathcona. He had already made a considerable investment of time and energy in his belief that Eclipse could make a difference here by encouraging sustainable business practices, creating gardens & green spaces for everyone to enjoy, and speaking out to improve the current social situation in this area. He had no intention of bailing out when it was convenient. But, running a business in this area is not without its stories.
One enduring character in the stories at Eclipse Awards is Dave. I don’t know his last name, but he is affectionately referred to as "Diamond Dave" by our team. He has been a long time resident of the Strathcona area and in 2002, when Eclipse first moved into the neighbourhood, he approached us and offered to keep our block clean for a small monthly fee. While most people would have quickly dismissed him, Toby looked beyond his rough exterior, appreciated his entrepreneurial spirit and accepted the offer. Since then, he has been a constant fixture at Eclipse, helping us maintain our green roofs and street gardens, doing some painting and general building maintenance, and keeping the streets around our building clean (often an unpleasant task).
Dave is an incredibly hardworking and honest individual. Even though we often leave him to work outside independently, he never inflates his time, or slacks off, and does his best at whatever he is asked to do. Over the years, we have seen life give him a few hard knocks (there are too many stories to tell in this one blog), but he has always managed to pick himself up and keep a positive attitude. He is incredibly appreciative and sincere. While we have given him a sense of belonging, and an opportunity to earn an honest wage in a neighbourhood where opportunities are sorely lacking, he has just as importantly taught us the meaning of a strong work ethic, the power of a positive attitude, and the strength of character that comes from being self-motivated.
Naturally, it was Toby and our resident Recognition Guru Nelson Borges, who decided to show Dave that he was an appreciated member of our team at Eclipse Awards. We created a blue recycled glass Inukshuk award for him last week, and surprised him in a small presentation with our whole company present. Initially confused, the worry on his face revealed the number of disappointments he had had in his life, and that he thought this would simply be another. But as Toby pulled out the award and read the engraved message, the weathered lines on Dave's face smoothed into an almost bashful grin and tears came to his eyes - for a moment he was overwhelmed with happiness and at a loss for words. Though the ceremony only lasted a few minutes, Dave left that day eager to show his friends his recycled glass award, saying that it had been one of the best moments of his life.
That day was a good reminder to all of us at Eclipse Awards about why we come to work every day. While we spend much of our time here at Eclipse working with large corporations, genuine recognition for something that is truly appreciated has the power to deliver an incredible amount of happiness, not only to the recipient, but also to those that share in the celebrations. Our day with Dave also reinforced the fact that not everyone has the same opportunities in life, but everyone deserves to be treated with respect and dignity.
Inspired by this thought, we've decided that we would like to help others recognize those in their community that are not in obvious positions to receive it. It is still just an idea that we are working to refine, but please stay tuned to find out more in the near future.
In the meantime, think about who you know in your community that deserves a little recognition and appreciation.