Switching from one career path to a completely unrelated one may be challenging for some, but Baltimore-based marketing expert Sherri Goodall managed to make a calculated transition into her new calling. After her father died, Goodall worked as a cemetarian for three years before she decided to follow her dream of helping others and become a community outreach manager for Downtown Locker Room, a leading urban apparel retailer.
Now in her 10th year with DTLR, Goodall has experienced amazing success as a corporate social figure. She has involved several entertainers and star NFL and NBA athletes with helping the youth in various events, including rapper J. Cole, the Atlanta Falcons’ Jonathan Babineaux, and former Atlanta Hawks player Josh Smith. She has also propelled over 60 percent of DTLR employees into getting involved in community service programs, which take place in Atlanta, Chicago, St. Louis, Baltimore Charlotte, North Carolina, and Washington, D.C..
Goodall spoke with rolling out about her history with the company and the most notable community outreach programs she has developed under DTLR, such as the Book Club for Boys and 7-on-7 football tournaments.
Her work at DTLR:
When we started out 10 years ago, it was just to get out there and roll up our sleeves and get intricately involved and engaged in the community. Where we are now is that I’m looking at build national programs and national focus for us as a company because the volunteerism is really self-sustaining at this point. We have an amazing team of people throughout all of our stores. In the last year alone, they did over 6000 hours of community service. That’s 60 percent of our staff being engaged in community service, so that part I think we’ve done pretty well, and I think we can maintain it, so I’m looking to do national programs.
The DTLR Book Club for Boys:
We’ve been doing [the book club] for a while, but for the last two going on three years now, what we did was we folded the book club in the other cities so we can restructure how it works, and we’ve partnered up with J. Cole and The Dreamville Foundation and also with a wonderful educator, administrator in the Fayetteville (North Carolina) area named Toni Golding. And what she did is she helped me to bring technology into it and exposed me to how the school systems could incorporate the book club using technology, so we’re getting the data that we need and we’re able to communicate with more children, even if we can’t physically be there. So the technology piece has been instrumental. J. Cole is a college graduate — graduated with honors and is very engaged in reading, and of course, kids want to be there because he’s there. And the book club is something we’re passionate about, so the three together has been amazing, and we’re getting ready to roll that out with a new platform.
The DTLR 7-on-7 football tournaments:
The free football camps just finished up last week in Atlanta. Those are 7-on-7 tournaments, which is a different style of football that’s played, but with those camps, our goal is to really give some under-recognized athletes some exposure. There’s always going to be that star player on the team, but there are other kids on that team that are good athletes as well that sometimes get overlooked, so we’re transitioning with the 7-on-7 tournaments to give that kind of exposure to high school athletes. It’s towards the end of the school year, and beginning of the summer, which is also the time that our NFL players are available. About this time or a little bit later, they’re gearing up for their season, so we kind of build it around the time that they are available as well. We do them in different cities, so we’re done for this year, but we did Chicago and Atlanta, and then next year, we’ll be adding in either Washington or Baltimore, and then we’re looking to add in some cities in Florida and North Carolina.
Her take on the future of corporate social responsibility:
I feel like the future of corporate social responsibility is really going to be how companies learn to actually indirectly engage with their consumer. I feel like up until this point, companies have very much said, “oh, we’re going to send you money and here you go” or “we’re going to come and build this,” but they didn’t ask people what they really wanted. A perfect example of that: the [Baltimore] riots. Shortly after the riots, there was a group of government executives and a leader that came and sat down with some of the kids that were seen on t.v. rioting at the high school. And they said to the kids “what do you want?” And they said “we want jobs, we want wreck centers and we want to be able to be engaged and do things.” Based on that, that’s what they decided to do. I feel like corporate social responsibility means you have to do the same thing, you have to sit down and ask what they want and deliver what they want, not what you want them to have.
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