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Compassionate Connections

December 29, 2000
Related Topics: Work/Life Balance, Featured Article
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Here’s a low-cost but highlyeffective way of showing your company’s compassion for workers in crisis.Hallmark Cards, Inc., developed a program called Compassionate Connections, amentoring program in which an individual in personal crisis or transition canconnect with other employees who have been through a similar experience. Thishelps the employees gain the insights and understanding of others who have“walked in their shoes.”

    The program was setup by an employee, Karen Talken, whose husband experienced a life-threateningillness shortly after she gave birth to their third child. Talken, who wasdevastated by her husband’s leukemia and challenged by the responsibility ofjuggling three small children and her job, was contacted by Bill Hall, presidentof the Hall Family Foundation and a survivor of lymphoma. Hall served as hermentor, supporting her and her family during the chemotherapy, radiation, andbone marrow transfusion ordeal.

    Talken was so movedby Hall’s help that she contacted Hallmark’s Work & Family Servicesadministrators about forming Compassionate Connections, which would link workersby a computer database with others who had similar life experiences. There arenow Hallmarkers who are connected by shared experiences such as the death of aloved one, divorce, and special parenting issues, as well as happy events suchas the adoption of a child.

    Thanks to theefforts of Karen Talken and the Work & Family Services department atHallmark, the Compassionate Connections program is changing the lives ofemployees by making them realize they are not alone, and helping them getthrough difficult situations by sharing their pain - and their triumphs. 

Workforce,January 2001, Vol 80, No 1, p. 68  SubscribeNow!

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