Monday, September 10, 2012

Jakob Hunt: "I have seen the power that one person can make on someone’s life"

Name: Jakob Hunt

What is your job?
I am currently the Vice President of Operations/HR Director for a franchise company, Dogtopia.  We have a chain of dog daycare and boarding facilities coast to coast.

What social causes are most important to you? In my professional life I am involved in a lot of charitable events all revolving around dogs, of course.  To date our stores have assisted in rehoming over 1000 foster dogs.  We just completed our 8th Annual Charity Dog Wash to raise funds for our company’s charitable arm, K-9 Support Inc., which raises money to buy equipment and supplies for military dogs overseas, as well as police and working dogs locally.

Since my professional charities are all about animals, my personal life revolves completely around people.  I volunteer in local organizations that specifically target the homeless and hungry.  In my “spare time” I make gift bags and pass them out randomly to the homeless folks in DC.  They aren’t fancy by any means, but seasonally themed.  In winter months there are items such as emergency blankets, gloves, socks, and snacks.  I put them in brown lunch bags and marker them with “YOU MATTER, Sincerely, the Anarchist Social Club.”

I have also lobbied for employment laws that involve protection of diversity in the workplace.  I believe strongly that it’s the quality of work that matters, not what a person looks like or does in their personal life.

What charities do you support – and how?
I volunteer at Food for All, Loaves and Fishes, and the Washington Home.  I support our company charity, K-9 Support by coordinating fund raising events and have also been involved in raising money for CACHES which is a charity that was founded by one of our employees in his hometown in Mozambique. 

Do you have a passion for this one in particular, is there a personal tie? I honestly feel blessed to not have to worry where my next meal is coming from.  I think that the homeless are misunderstood and looked down upon when in reality I believe that at anytime our circumstances could change and any of us could become homeless or need a meal or helping hand.   I have a very diverse mix of friends through the years who have been marginalized by society for many reasons all of which in no way tie into who they actually are as people.

Is there a particular way you would want to encourage readers to be involved? Volunteering is free!  People want to say, “I’m only one person,” but I have seen the power that one person can make on someone’s life.  Imagine if every person volunteered just one hour a week what could be accomplished.  Every city has a food bank or other organizations that rely on volunteers for their workload.  They are understaffed and a lot of organizations completely rely on donations and volunteers.  

How would you define social responsibility?  In my mind every single one of us has a responsibility to every other person and living being on this planet.  I think in terms of business, that responsibility grows as our ability to reach others in terms of our client base grows.  Businesses need to understand and accept that they are no longer one individual because each of their customers has an entire circle of contacts and with that the opportunity for positive change for others is multiplied.

Do you have any tattoos that relate to your social work?   On my right forearm I inked the word “CHANGE” in the style of an old stamp.  This has personal meaning to me but ties into a lot about what I disliked about myself when I was younger and selfish in many ways.  I have hanging in my home the saying that “life isn’t about finding yourself; it is about creating yourself” and I strive to live that now everyday.  If there are parts of your life that you don’t like, then change them!  I don’t like a lot of what happens to people so I strive to change the world I live in even if that means one little lunch bag at a time.  

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