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The Effects of Improv at Ministry with Community

More than just a soup kitchen, Ministry with Community is a haven in Kalamazoo for people who are hungry, lonely or homeless. In addition to meals, they provide showers, laundry services, mail services, counselors and advocates. Many of the small things people spend very little time thinking about, like toothpaste and soap, are tough for some people to afford, yet play such an important role in functioning in society. Ministry with Community provides these types of essentials to its members seven days a week. We love the important work they’re doing there and had an exciting experience there recently.

A few months back, we were having a discussion with a friend of ours who is a sales trainer at Stryker and an incredibly motivating speaker. While he has an office in Kalamazoo, Mark Sims lives in Alabama and volunteers time speaking at prisons down there about the power of positivity and the ways people label themselves. He liked how our exercises on positive communication complemented his speech on positivity and we all came up with an idea: let’s put together an interactive presentation on positivity and removing labels right here in Kalamazoo. As fans of Ministry, we reached out to MwC Executive Director Rob Oakleaf and set up a program.

The day couldn’t have gone better. We helped out at lunch and talked to people about the program we had set up that afternoon. Unsure of how many Ministry members would attend, we were pleased to see every chair filled for the program. As always, Mark was inspiring and articulate, and we were impressed with how quickly and enthusiastically participants jumped right into our exercises. It was great to see all the participants playing along in our, “Yes, and . . .” exercises. We played a version of, “What I like about your idea is . . ., that got people really supporting the ideas of everyone in the room. They were laughing, talking and getting very creative!

We can’t pretend to know what it’s like to not know where we’re going to sleep each night or where our next meal is coming from, but we know that people of all walks of life want to feel accepted, encouraged and connected to others. We work with a lot of different types of people in a lot of different types of industries: high-energy salespeople, analytical engineers, pragmatic bankers, passionate social workers and many more. It never ceases to amaze us how, no matter who our audience is, a few exercises that focus on showing support and connecting with others can put people in such a positive, confident mood. In the midst of the exercises that day, the participants could have been anyone from any of our workshops. It reinforced the idea that people aren’t that different. Make sure you take the time to “Yes, and . . .” someone today.

Oh, and if you want to know more about the good work being done at Ministry with Community, be sure to visit their website here.

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