Constructing Lives of Purpose

Cross-cultural partnerships are one of the most mutually beneficial relationships a business can engage in.

Article updated October 3, 2022

Written by Michael Prins

It’s not exactly “business as usual” for a handful of companies in British Columbia. While the bulk of companies prioritize the bottom line—balancing the numbers and cutting costs to make as much money as possible—Alderidge Construction, Stattonrock Design & Build, Balzer’s Brushing, and Ferguson Moving & Storage have gone to great lengths to inject meaning into their work. They’ve built a relationship with families in the rural community of Acul in Guatemala. And there’s nothing quite like ending poverty to fill your life and your business with purpose.

Since 2016, the owners and staff of Alderidge Construction have been engaged in a social impact initiative with Food for the Hungry (FH) Canada. Together, they partnered with Acul, Guatemala. Right from the beginning, staff began sponsoring children and working harder to create more funds they could use to support families in Acul. It wasn’t long before they began making regular trips to meet those they were serving and begin building relationships.

News about the new meaning and energy buzzing around Alderidge Construction spread fast. One year into their impact partnership, their friends at Stattonrock Design & Build were eager to join the program, too. In 2018, two more companies, Balzer Brushing and Ferguson Moving & Storage, signed up to also partner with Acul. 

Rallying around a joint purpose—helping Acul get out of poverty—bonded these four local businesses and gave them a vision for cooperation that was far more impactful than competition. Not only were they able to strengthen their businesses through sharing tips, tricks, insights, and lessons learned, they also expanded their client networks by supporting each other.

By October 2018, the four companies were ready to host a joint fundraising event: Comunidad. Comunidad means “community” in Spanish, a fitting name for an event centered around building community amongst businesses in Abbotsford, BC and between Canadians and Guatemalans in Acul.

Comunidad encompasses both the passion to help others and the wisdom to intentionally connect with other local companies. Instead of just writing individual cheques to help end poverty, the four businesses had a greater vision to build connections within their city’s business community as a way to leverage greater impact in Acul, and at home. 

Comunidad became a way to invite more people into purpose-driven business and meaning-filled lives.

The first Comunidad fundraiser took the shape of a formal gala with a family-style dining experience. As the night progressed, guests bid on silent auction prize items donated by local businesses. The hilarious, stand-up comedian Cliff Prang also hosted a raucous live auction, selling off scenic flights, a jet boat tour, a skydiving experience, and other valuable items—all generously given to raise money for Acul’s families.

At the end of the day, over 30 local businesses supported the Comunidad event and raised over $60,000 for Acul, easily surpassing the stretch goal of $50,000! 

Cooperative events like the Comunidad Gala provide a space for businesses to relax, make connections, and build relationships.

“I was truly inspired by how these companies—so well regarded and respected here in Abbotsford—came together in their care for the Guatemalan people,” commented Carissa Youssef, staff with FH. ”And the support from other companies in our community for the event was amazing. The entire evening showcased a spirit of generosity!”

It’s uncommon for businesses in the same industry to work together without competition. But it’s an incredibly savvy move. 

Randi Dueck of Stattonrock Design & Build explains, “In our industry, you’re doing your thing, holding your cards close, keeping your secrets.” As faith-driven leaders, the Duecks, however, saw a broader vision for their lives and their business. 

For them, their partnership with Acul meant cooperating and sharing with other businesses in the industry. It also meant that their work and personal lives began to merge. Randi says, “It all became one. And because we’re self-employed, it’s our lifestyle. It needs to have God as the centre and focus.”

At Alderidge Construction, business owners Mark Shatford and Erik Toews grappled with a similar desire for purpose within their company. They employ several staff who once had a passion to be involved in ministry, but who have since settled into a comfortable routine of work.

Erik explains, “We have all these Bible college guys. [From] Columbia Bible College, Bethany, Briarcrest, Trinity Western University. They thought they were going to be in ministry. How do we keep these guys excited about a job that they [didn’t plan] to be involved in?” Impact partnership with the community of Acul has since provided Alderidge Construction a way to engage their employees with purpose-driven work through the mission of ending poverty in Acul.

“We wanted people to have direction and to feel like they were part of something, not just putting in a punch card,” Mark says. As a result, staff at Alderidge Construction make regular trips to Guatemala to visit with families and experience the exciting transformation happening there.

Thanks to this visionary group of businesses, the community of Acul is well on its way from stuck to thriving. They’re on schedule to graduate from FH programming in 2026! Laura Balzer from Ferguson Moving & Storage recounts how her experience during a visit to Acul impacted her. 

Laura says: “When they first initiate these [savings group] programs, women are scared to come, they feel like they don’t have anything to offer.” But, over time, FH's community training programs arm women with confidence and leadership skills.

Through savings groups, women in Acul are bravely stepping out to take control of their families' health and venture into the world of small business start-ups.

“In time, they were able to make eye contact and practice writing and reading without fear of making mistakes, and [when] we got there they were presenting to us foreigners with confidence, proud of what they’ve accomplished. We were all so emotional and proud of these women for what they were able to do for their community,” says Laura.

Plans are in the works for the next Comunidad fundraising event, and businesses are increasingly interested in partnering with overseas communities. Transformation in Acul is ongoing.

To learn more about Impact Partnerships with FH Canada and our partner communities, visit fhcanada.org/partner or contact Kevin at [email protected] or 416-471-3117.



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Food for the Hungry: Constructing Lives of Purpose
Constructing Lives of Purpose
Social impact projects can help your business. Here's how four businesses embraced social good together and found cooperation better than competition.
Food for the Hungry
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