In October 2022, the Spark Point team gathered in Washington DC for our annual company retreat! For a remote company like us, retreats are essential to team bonding, enhancing collaboration, maintaining the relationships that help us do good work, and planning for the future.
We started planning on August 10 – everything from the venue to the food to our activities had to be arranged and managed. That’s no easy task when hosting a group that includes people who are gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, and who can’t eat pork all on the same retreat. Thanks to our planning committee they were able to plan an incredible retreat. Take a look at our previous blog post on How to Have a Fantastic Staff Retreat in Eight Steps for more details.
We chose to have our retreat in beautiful Castleton, Virginia, close enough to DC to drive there but far enough to feel like a real getaway. Most of our staff live on the East Coast and we wanted to be able to visit our DC-based clients, so Castleton was a perfect choice. We also wanted to be close to nature to give us time away from technological distractions, so we could focus on having strategic conversations and getting to know one another.
The main goal of our retreat was to strengthen our connections with each other and plan the year ahead, surrounded by the freedom and fresh air of Castleton. After meeting at the company office, we all piled into our cars and drove down to Virginia, where we spent three full days.
We started our retreat with our friends from Life Pieces to Masterpieces, who led us in a Color Me Community workshop. It is a beautifully executed and highly interactive workshop that provides a nurturing and nonjudgmental environment for people of all races and identities to safely grapple with issues that deeply divide and separate us from one another. It was a deeply meaningful experience for our team that truly brought us closer to each other.
The next two days were spent in both group and team sessions. Topics included a “State of Spark Point” session, led by our CEO to discuss the company’s 2022 performance and goals for 2023 and beyond, a movement session led by Caroline Santos (Operations Manager), more get-to-know-you activities led by Bri Mondesir (Grant Writer), and team-focused time for both the Foundation Strategy and Operations teams.
After all these experiences working on the company’s direction we enjoyed mindfulness moments, games, and cooking dinner together as a team. We concluded our time at Castleton renewed, happy, and with lots of new knowledge.
On day four, we headed back into DC to visit some of our clients! Billy, Mike, and Sera visited the DC History Center and toured their exhibit and library spaces to learn more about the work they do helping Washingtonians learn about their city’s history. Gagan, Madeline, Bri, Caroline, and Maddy visited Arlington Free Clinic to learn firsthand how the clinic works, their expansion efforts, and how they fit into the wider Arlington community. Our leadership team – Whitney, Bre, and Calvin – went down to the District Alliance for Safe Housing, where they learned more about the incredible, thoughtful services they bring to their clients, including thoughtfully decorated homes, dedicated play and learning areas for children, and a community room.
Our fifth and final day saw more client visits. A big group of us visited Together We Bake in Alexandria to learn more about the work they do with their participants, and to try our hand at making their famous chocolate chip cookies! At Capitol Hill Village, Madeline and Caroline met Mary Bloodworth and learned more about their work helping seniors in DC age in place. The rest of the team was at Academy of Hope to have a tour of the facility and lunch with Joy Bentley-Phillips and Michael Braeuninger – members of their Advancement team.
After our retreat, we took some time to analyze the conversations that we had so we could provide you with a comprehensive look at how we worked during our time together. Overall, it was a wonderful experience to be in person together, spend some time with our clients, and discuss the future of Spark Point. We can’t wait to all be together again.