Luncheon combines business, community service

Originally published on The Reporter on August 17, 2016 By Kimberly K. Fu

Luncheon combines business, community service
Kimberly K. Fu — The Reporter Christina Baird (pictured right) with Little Wing Connections talks about the monthly luncheon that connects business and community service.

Who knew that lunch could inspire a community movement?
Not Christina Baird, a public relations and marketing expert and Vacaville community services commissioner, but she and two other women determined to give it a try.
That was almost eight years ago and today the monthly Little Wing Connections Accountability and Contribution luncheon is booming, as is community outreach in Solano County and beyond.
“We started it to humanize businesses,” Baird recalled. “The recession had just begun and people were desperate.”
As the economy bottomed out, buyers were tightening their wallets and businesses struggled to stand out from the crowd.
“We wanted to give a platform to people to come and share about their businesses and show how they contribute to the community,” Baird said. In essence, put a face to their businesses while also offering the community a helping hand.
From individuals to businesses to organizations, all are welcomed at the meetings — held at noon the first Thursday of every month at the Fairfield-Suisun Chamber of Commerce, 1111 Webster St. in Fairfield. Cost is $15 and includes a meal.
There are designated speakers — in-house or guests — at each event. They speak not only about their business, but the causes they care about and how others can help. Past speakers have included Pink Lemonade, which serves cancer patients, and the Vacaville Neighborhood Boys & Girls Club.
The results are win-win, it seems, as everyone gets to promote their business or cause or Luncheon combines business, community service2organization and the community at the same time.
The lesson — get involved.
“It teaches you that if your neighbors fail, you’re going to fail. You have to promote your neighbors, promote your community,” Baird said. “It’s not about ‘What’s in it for me?’ It’s about ‘What can I do for you?’”
The more businesses are accountable for their communities, the more they affect its growth, she continued.
Back in the day, there were 45-60 people attending who were in the midst of reinventing themselves due to massive layoffs during the recession. Now, things have settled.
“We have people who really just want to make a difference,” Baird said. “We have leaders.”
Some attendees have come from the beginning and new people pop in every time — from throughout the state.
Results have been amazing, she said, from business boosts to an increase in volunteerism.
Like Susan Schwartz, a Vacaville businesswoman who also volunteers tirelessly for the Boys & Girls Club.
A handful of years ago, a former Boys & Girls Club staffer was the guest speaker and mentioned needing people to help with the kids.
“I stood up and said I think I want to do that,” Schwartz remembered. “I said I love kids. I can do that.”
Schwartz remains a stalwart and beloved volunteer and credits Baird’s luncheon with her tight link to the Boys & Girls Club.
“She is about accountability and giving back to the community,” Schwartz affirmed.
For her part, Baird said she’s happy that the luncheon continues to grow and spur more outreach.
“I really am proud of it and I’m proud of the people and the work they’ve done,” she said.
New attendees and speakers are welcomed. Have a business or organization or cause you want people to know about? Drop in on a luncheon.
Twitter: @ReporterKimFu
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