Spring 2020

‘True Success Is Giving Back’

Lecturer Len Green doesn’t define success by the amount of money one has. Success to him is measured by how you can improve the world around you, often through giving back.

In his popular course The Ultimate Entrepreneurial Challenge—along with Rebuilding from Disaster, led by Lecturer Chuck Winrich—students learn the significance of philanthropy and what it means to be a humanitarian.

Lessons for Life

Each week in Green’s course, a team of students is asked to bring food and beverages to feed the remaining 50 to 100 students in class with one condition: The team isn’t allowed to pay for it. To acquire meals, teams rely on negotiation. They also advertise, or perform other marketing-related work for restaurants in return for meals.

A group of students, led last semester by Mircea Ghita, decided to employ a similar tactic to feed others. With approval from Green, Ghita—an exchange student from Romania who attended Babson last fall—designed a project to use leftover meals from their dining plans to feed the homeless in Boston’s Copley Square neighborhood. Seven students ended up contributing more than 110 meals.

“Making money gives you opportunity, but that’s not true success,” Green said. “True success is giving back.”

Green said the donation of meals provided homeless men and women with a sense of optimism.

“When you reach that stage, you’re suspicious, you’ve lost hope,” Green said. “It’s important for these nonprofits to come across with hope, besides just food.”

Real Solutions

Winrich has been teaching courses on natural disasters for 20 years, and he initiated class trips to New Orleans in 2017 and 2018 to study lingering effects of Hurricane Katrina as part of his course Rebuilding from Disaster.

During the weeklong trips, students studied the city’s levy system, spoke to residents who lived through the hurricane, and also spent time in nearby Thibodaux, Louisiana, where they helped rebuild homes for those originally displaced by the hurricane. “In the vein of experiential learning, you go out and work on real problems with real people,” Winrich said. “You see the impact of your work.”

Winrich aspires to lead similar future work in Puerto Rico, struck by Hurricane Maria in 2017 and a round of earthquakes in December and January. “Even if it’s for a short period of time,” he said, “we want to help people and communities get back on their feet.”

READ MORE: In Service of Others: The Power of the Community Action Program »

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