This week, CBI is pleased to feature Connie Engelbrecht, CBI’s Director of Client and Community Engagement, in our Leadership in Action blog series. Since joining CBI, Connie has brought her passion for serving others to her role and works tirelessly to ensure CBI’s clients and coalition partners receive the highest level of customer service when partnering with CBI and its Associates. Connie is a well-known fixture in the Charlotte community and has been lending her time, talent, and treasure to various community organizations in the Charlotte area for many years. We spoke with Connie about the organizations she is a part of and asked her what drives her to serve and support others. See her story below.
Q: Connie, it sounds like supporting those around you is a passion that you carry through your role at CBI and your life outside of work. Tell us, why is it so important for you to give back?
Connie: My daily mantra is to do what I can to make a difference in any one person’s life every day. I am a real believer in random acts of kindness and lending a hand to community members in need. I’ll give you an example, back in December I went through a Starbucks drive through to get my coffee, and when I got to the window to pay the barista informed me that the gentleman ahead of me had already paid for my order. I then repeated the act of kindness and paid for the person behind me and the barista told me that I was the 21st person in line who continued this act of kindness. The amount of joy and satisfaction that moment gave me and those other 21 people, it’s an irreplaceable feeling and is one I get every time I find a new way to support my fellow neighbors.
Q: Wow what a story. Tell us a little bit about your community involvement in Charlotte.
Connie: I’ve lived in Charlotte for a very long time, so over the years I’ve volunteered with and supported many different local organizations. Today, there are four primary organizations that keep me busy and those are Classroom Central, Good Friends Charlotte, the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Foundation and an organization called Charlotte Concerts.
Q: It sounds like you are a busy woman. Tell us a little bit more about Classroom Central and your involvement with the organization.
Connie: I do keep busy! Classroom Central is the organization I’ve spent the most time with as I’ve been volunteering with them for the past 20 years. This organization serves students and teachers in six school districts across North and South Carolina by providing donated school supplies, cleaning supplies, personal care items and more to classrooms in lower income schools. Teachers and other school personnel are eligible to receive free supplies if 50% or more of their students receive free or reduced-price lunch.
As a former educator, I know the frustrations that teachers and students face when there are limited supplies and resources. Over the years, I’ve worked closely with Classroom Central to host various donation drives – from pencil and backpack drives to book drives – to gather supplies for the organization and be able to help put some of the basic necessities back into our classrooms.
Q: It sounds like Classroom Central is really helping to meet a need for students today. What about your involvement with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Foundation?
Connie: The Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Foundation is an organization committed to bringing people and police together. Founded in 2004, the Police Foundation’s goal is to strengthen Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department services and to promote public safety in our area. The Foundation dedicates its efforts to assuring safer neighborhoods and highly skilled and equipped police through better technology, education and programming.
I’m very much a supporter of our Police Department and the efforts they are making here within our community. This organization is also special to me because David Dooley, my long-time friend and colleague, is the Chair of the Foundation so a lot of my work is in helping support him in his role. I am actively involved in planning and hosting tables at the Foundation’s annual luncheon which raises money each year to build funds for the force. CBI always graciously buys a table and many of our Associates look forward to this event.
Q: And what about Good Friends and Charlotte Concerts?
Connie: Good Friends Charlotte is a women’s organization that supports individuals and families in our area with financial resources to improve lives and inspire hope. Good Friends Charlotte hosts one big annual fundraiser each year which is a women’s luncheon around the holidays. I’ve served as a table host for the Good Friends luncheon for about 10 years, and each year I invite about 30 women to join me at the lunch and see what Good Friends is about. I often invite CBI’s Coalition Partners and Associates who might take an interest in the organization and learning from other women in the Charlotte community.
Charlotte Concerts is a non-profit focused on bringing world-renowned classical music and performing arts to the region. They also provide musical instruments and sheet music to underserved schools and students who cannot afford to have an instrument. For the last three years, I’ve planned and coordinated a fundraising auction which is how we raise most of our money each year. Often times I’ll ask CBI Associates to serve as auction assistants which allows many of them to see the rewards of giving back and being involved in the community.
Q: So tell us, how do you bring together your involvement in these community organization and your role at CBI?
Connie: I’ve always believed that healthy communities will bring healthy businesses. One of the things I try to do in whatever company I work for is to help Associates find something they can be passionate about. Not everybody has the same talents, but when you put multiple talents together you can do amazing things. Since joining CBI I’ve been able to introduce these organizations to the company and our teams. CBI has hosted Classroom Central drives for me and as I mentioned many of our Associates have accompanied me to luncheons or events with the other organizations I’m a part of. I like to help our young people understand the opportunities they have and show them the personal reward they’ll see from doing service work and making a difference in peoples lives.
As you can see from her story, Connie is a true leader in action not only at CBI, but in the Charlotte community as well. We are so proud of her passion for helping those around her and couldn’t ask for a better individual to make our Clients and Associates feel valued.