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Locals pay to fix student’s car keyed with homophobic slurs

Several local businesses chipped in to fix a college kid’s car after homophobic slurs were carved into the doors, proving that good deeds do not go unnoticed.

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Four separate vandalism incidents

A Virginia college student’s car has been targeted four separate times in a two month period, as homophobic slurs have been keyed into the doors of his car, and other messages like “dye” (which we assume means “die,” but there was a spelling error). Jordan Addison has been singled out and bullied for being gay, and as any college kid on a budget, he was unable to pay for repairs… until a local body shop rallied local businesses, including their own, to completely overhaul the car.

WDBJ-TV reports that the manager of Roanoke’s Quality Auto Paint and Body says that he heard about Addison’s car, “I said that’s uncalled for we’re gonna fix your car that’s the least we can do.”

With the help of several other local businesses (Parts Unlimited in Vinton, Advance Auto Parts, Moon’s Auto Body, Rice Toyota, Val’s Automotive, The Rod Shop, B&C Exterminating, Twists & Turns, AJ’s Landscaping, and Sunnybrook Auto Spa), Quality Auto Paint & Body not only provided the student with a brand new paint job for his car, but tinted windows, new tires, a new security system, and even a new stereo.

“We can’t afford to do this ourselves,” body shop manager Richard Henegar, Jr. noted of the $10,000 worth of repairs and upgrades.”We might have all the good intentions in the world, but I can’t finance something like this ourselves.”

“It looks great,” Addison said about his Volkswagen. “It hasn’t looked that great the entire time I’ve had it.”

Thanks to Quality Auto Paint & Body

This isn’t Quality Auto Paint & Body’s first rodeo, in fact, this 26 year old family business run by father and son performed a similar feat in 2010, which they called “Operation Pay it Forward,” wherein the team overhauled a deployed soldier’s vehicle while he was away on duty, a calling close to Henegar Jr.’s heart after serving four years in the Navy.

With a company culture like this, it is without question that the body shop is getting attention for all the right reasons. First a soldier, now a hate crime victim? They deserve all of the praise coming their way, as do the other companies that ponied up for the repairs. They not only got local news’ attention, they are in the national spotlight of traditional and digital media outlets, even getting a nod from GLAAD.

So far, reviews across the web are proving the value of good deeds done by local businesses. On Yelp, they got their first reviews ever as a result of helping Addison, with people writing in from across the country, like Christopher in San Jose, who said, “I read about what you guys did for the kid with the damaged car. If you apply the same level of care to cars that you do to people, you must be a fine business. I wish I were close so that I could give you some of my business. Your good deeds didn’t go unnoticed. Thank you.”

On the body shop’s Google+ Page, one reviewer said, “I read about the random act of kindness your Auto Body Shop and other business concerns in Roanoke did for the young man whose car was vandalized simply because he was gay. I lived in Roanoke many year ago while attending Salem College. I left because of the attitude of many in the area towards gays. You have restored my faith and I thank you. It is good to know that goodness always triumphs over evil.”

Full video of Addison’s reaction available on WDBJ.

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius - she has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. tinainvirginia

    August 22, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    Many people think that those who live in the deep trenches of the south are “bible thumping”, closed minded, ignorant rednecks.  Let this be a lesson….we care about each other, our fellow neighbors and our country.  This is just one of the many, many acts of caring and kindness that occur each and everyday in our community; and, just another reason why we moved to southwest Virginia.

    • elijahmay

      August 26, 2012 at 11:35 pm

       @tinainvirginia It’s a great story. I’m now part of the AG Team here in Austin, but I’m originally from the mountains of NC, and I’ve seen this kind of compassion, tolerance, and neighborliness first hand. Frankly, those values turned out to be my biggest asset during my years in L.A..

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Business News

Study: Employers are inadvertently punishing women that suffer from Endo

(BUSINESS NEWS) A new study reveals the widespread impact of Endo (Endometriosis) in the workforce as well as the entire economy. Change must be made. Quickly.

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endo endometriosis pain

Women still face many barriers in their career. It’s been more than half a century since federal law addressed gender discrimination in the workplace, but it still occurs. Whether it’s lack of access to training, an inability to speak up, or pay inequality, it’s all wrong. Sadly, a new study identifies another potential barrier to a woman’s career path – endometriosis.

What is endometriosis?

The Office on Women’s Health (OWH) reports that “endometriosis happens when tissue similar to the lining of the uterus (womb) grows outside the uterus.”

Endo, as its often called, causes varying levels of pain, often chronic pain in the lower back and pelvis. The tissue outside the uterus grows in areas where it can cause even more problems by blocking fallopian tubes and forming scar tissue. There is no cure, but there are some treatment options that can work.

Endo affects about 11% of American women who are ages 15 to 44. Despite the fact that the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology describes endometriosis as “nothing short of a public health emergency,” data suggests that about 60% of endo cases go undiagnosed.

I repeat: 60% of endo cases go undiagnosed.

More than 6 million American women are living with the symptoms of endo without knowing the cause or having the capability to manage their symptoms.

Endometriosis was once considered a career woman’s disease, but a two-year-long study from Finland shows that the disease shapes a woman’s career, not the other way around.

Women with endo take 10 or more sick days than women without endo. They also use more disability days. Other studies support these findings. A 2011 analysis reported that women with endo could lose almost 11 hours of work each week because their endo made it difficult to complete tasks. One US study estimated that women with endo experience more sick days each year, up to 20.

These women often have a lower annual salary and slower salary growth.

How can employers address endometriosis in the workplace?

It’s difficult enough to discuss any type of health problem at work, let alone one that relates to menstruation. Employers have a big problem just dealing with short-term illnesses. It’s hard when a key employee is out for one or two weeks from a surgery. Long-term chronic illnesses, especially those that are invisible, are challenging in the workplace.

Most workplace cultures aren’t designed for people with chronic conditions or disabilities.

It’s going to take a major shift in thinking to deal with endometriosis in the workplace.

Endo isn’t painful period cramps. It’s a serious condition without a cure. Employees who are dealing with endo may be battling intense pain or fatigue. Yes, work needs to get done, but when people are living with a chronic condition, they need accommodations.

Endometriosis may be a woman’s disease, but it does impact the entire economy. One study found that endo had a similar economic burden to that of heart disease or diabetes. Most employers would not think twice about a man who needed extra time to deal with coronary disease, but women often don’t get that consideration, regardless of the condition.

Women with endo aren’t incapable or shirking their duties. They may just need to deal with their pain to stay focused at work. Let’s drop the stigma and help accommodate women who deal with endo.

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Business News

Everyone should have an interview escape plan

(BUSINESS NEWS) A job interview should be a place to ask about qualifications but sometimes things can go south – here’s how to escape when they do.

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interview from hell

“So, why did you move from Utah to Austin?” the interviewer asked over the phone.

The question felt a little out of place in the job interview, but I gave my standard answer about wanting a fresh scene. I’d just graduated college and was looking to break into the Austin market. But the interviewer wasn’t done.

“But why Austin?” he insisted, “There can’t be that many Mormons here.”

My stomach curled. This was a job interview – I’d expected to discuss my qualifications for the position and express my interest in the company. Instead, I began to answer more and more invasive questions about my personal life and religion. The whole ordeal left me very uncomfortable, but because I was young and desperate, I put up with it. In fact, I even went back for a second interview!

At the time, I thought I had to put up with that sort of treatment. Only recently have I realized that the interview was extremely unprofessional and it wasn’t something I should have felt obligated to endure.

And I’m not the only one with a bad interview story. Slate ran an article sharing others’ terrible experiences, which ranged from having their purse inspected to being trapped in a 45 minute presentation! No doubt, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to mistreatment by potential employers.

So, why do we put up with it?

Well, sometimes people just don’t know better. Maybe, like I was, they’re young or inexperienced. In these cases, these sorts of situations seem like they could just be the norm. There’s also the obvious power dynamic: you might need a job, but the potential employers probably don’t need you.

While there might be times you have to grit your teeth and bear it, it’s also worth remembering that a bad interview scenario often means bad working conditions later on down the line. After all, if your employers don’t respect you during the interview stage, it’s likely the disrespect will continue when you’re hired.

Once you’ve identified an interview is bad news, though, how do you walk out? Politely. As tempting as it is to make a scene, you probably don’t want to go burning bridges. Instead, excuse yourself by thanking your interviewers, wishing them well and asserting that you have realized the business wouldn’t be a good fit.

Your time, as well as your comfort, are important! If your gut is telling you something is wrong, it probably is. It isn’t easy, but if a job interview is crossing the line, you’re well within your rights to leave. Better to cut your losses early.

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Business News

How to keep Pride month going year-round (without rainbow washing)

(BUSINESS NEWS) Pride month is over and companies have deleted their rainbow website adornments. Without much effort, your company can easily keep the commitment to kindness going – here’s how.

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Pride month in the US is behind us now and already the rainbows have faded from mega-corporate logos and branding. Making a constant commitment to inclusivity and anti-discrimination isn’t always easy and marketing has minefields aplenty.

So how does a small business navigate this? We’re starting from a deficit of trust and there are a few reasons why.

The large scale, mega-corporate marketing and PR targeted at the LGBTQIA+ community that goes on in June for Pride month, collectively referred to as “rainbow washing” (or sometimes even less flattering pandering accusations), has come under fire for being largely lip service and sometimes downright harmful by community advocates.

For example, one independent journalist just penned an editorial, putting AT&T on blast for publicly supporting LGBTQIA+ causes while funding political initiatives that negatively impact the community. I’d consider this a prime example of what not to do.

Businesses who want to be genuine in their commitment to pride have plenty of options that don’t require vast marketing or PR budgets.

Pride is ultimately about celebrating progress and obstacles surmounted by the community and highlighting the work needed to promote equality for everyone, regardless of identity or orientation.

The first thing any business can do is reflect internally. Address any dirty laundry that might be kicked behind the couch in the corner.

Try asking these questions:

  • Are our policies gender neutral?
  • Do any job titles involve gendered terms?
  • Is the language in morality clauses modern?
  • How do your benefits packages handle LGBTQIA+ health issues?

The other thing businesses can do, even if you are a business of just one person, is be an active member of your community.

Below are a few accessible, actionable suggestions on how to promote a welcoming and inclusive world:

  • Listen – Be informed about what goes on in your locale. Sometimes just being aware is more than half the battle.
  • Speak – if there is something going on in your community that you have a strong opinion on, speak up. Twitter is popular these days. Few things are more impactful than a call to city hall or the commerce department from a local business owner. You have more power than you probably realize. And yes, it IS good for business because it builds trust and loyalty within your customer base. Good things happen to those who make an effort to do the right thing.
  • Ask Questions – Nothing beats good old honesty and accountability. Colleagues, customers, and the community at large will respect you more if you are willing to open a dialog. This can be individual conversations, or a short survey in a newsletter or social media post. This builds trust and gives you an opportunity to serve as a role model for others.
  • Back Local Events – Get your name and logo out there. I know this one feels inaccessible to smaller businesses, but hear me out. Obviously, organisations running events like financial or in-kind contributions. If you can do that, great! A lot of organisations struggle with finding safe meeting spaces- can you unlock the office for 2 hours one evening after work one night a month? Something as simple as volunteering your parking lot for some extra space or putting a banner on your webpage for a week makes a big difference too. Push their events on your socials. Can I borrow your printer?

At the end of the day, every day, everyone just wants to be treated equally, with kindness and compassion.

Last I checked, those are two things we haven’t put a commercial price tag on yet. So, above all else, be kind. It’s amazing how far that can get you.

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