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Matt Beem
President, Kinetic Companies, Inc.

Beginning of a great friendship

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<SATURDAY, B 2008Saturday, July 26, 2008

Remember the old Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup commercials?

They’re etched in my memory from years of repetitive viewing be-tween Saturday morning episodes of “Scooby Doo” and “Speed Racer.”

You remember the stitch: A man and woman collide while walking past one another. Each is young, attractive and – amazingly – carrying a jar of peanut butter or bar of chocolate.

Now it’s coming back to you. The chocolate lands in the peanut butter, and the man and woman greet one another gushingly. They smile as they taste the delightful accident that would become the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

“Uuuhhhmmm,” they say in unison. “Two great tastes that taste great together.”

Where would we be if the man and woman with peanut butter and chocolate hadn’t collided? If Reese’s hadn’t taken a chance and created a new combination?

I think more unlikely combinations would make our world a better place.

I spend a day each month counseling a Girl Scouts of the USA council and Boy Scouts of America council in suburban Chicago. They’re conducting a joint capital campaign to build a shared service center, the first such facility in the United States.

Some traditionalists brush the groundbreaking initiative aside. They say it won’t work, pointing out that one organization is for boys and the other for girls. They claim their methods are as different as the people they serve.

I say hogwash.

Who can argue with sharing heating and snow removal costs? How many parents of both Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts – I’m one of them – would thumb their noses at one-stop shopping? Why can’t Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts work together?

With more than $1 million committed to the $4 million campaign, all signs say they can. And beyond the cash gifts, the campaign is the proud recipient of a $600,000 gift of land. The local physician who donated it only did so after the organizations announced they were partnering.

There are examples of powerful partnerships dedicated to improving lives all around us in Eastern Jackson County:

  • The Independence School District’s acquisition of former Kansas City School District schools in northwest Independence is a move many thought would never happen. Despite significant capital and logistical challenges – and a transition strained by the Kansas City School District’s chronic dysfunction – the Independence School District continues to work with groups throughout the community to ensure a successful fall opening.
  • The Community Services League, which provides emergency assistance, housing counseling and work support, executes its mission from seven locations in Eastern Jackson County. One is at Abiding Savior Lutheran Church on 39th Street in Independence, a great use of the church for the benefit of the community. Some weeknights and many Saturday mornings, you’ll find Joe Brammer there ready to lend a helping hand to those dropping off and picking up items.
  • Thanks to hard work of parents and School Counselor Bruce Bailey, Bryant Elementary School in Independence will benefit from the Harvester’s BackSnack program. The initiative, which provides families with essential food items each Friday to help ensure children return to school well nourished on Monday, is available throughout metropolitan Kansas City to schools that qualify.

The list goes on and on, but the point is clear: Unlikely combinations make sense. They optimize resources and break down barriers.

Next time you bite into a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, remember its humble beginnings. Then let your sugar high inspire a new unlikely combination.

Matt Beem is president of Kinetic Companies, an international fundraising consulting firm. He lives in Independence.

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