When domestic travel restrictions ended, New Zealanders were encouraged to ‘back their backyard’ by supporting local tourism and hospitality businesses hard hit by the COVID-19 lockdown. The request gave Dunedin law firm owner Jenny Beck an idea for blessing both her staff and the local economy.

Jenny, who has been a member of Dunedin City Baptist Church for 33 years, called her 13 staff into the office. In these days of business closures and redundancies, it would have been natural for a few nervous glances to have been exchanged. Fortunately the news was all good—Jenny revealed she would be giving each staff member $1,000 to spend on themselves and their loved ones. Jenny’s only caveat was that the money should go towards holidays, meals out and tourist attractions, to benefit local businesses.

“The idea came to me in May, shortly after my staff started back at alert level two,” says Jenny. “I purposely sat on it for a couple of weeks before announcing it to them, as I did not want them to think it was a spur of the moment decision I might regret! They are all so wonderful. It is a way of saying a huge thank you to them for their contribution and also to spread some money around. I’m so delighted with the way people are taking up the challenge to organise something gorgeous for themselves and their family or flatmates.”

Ashleigh Mitchell, one of the solicitors at Jenny Beck Law, says, “Jenny is an incredibly generous and kind person. News of the bonus has certainly given us all something to be thankful for and I have noticed a real shift in the vibe around the office. People are excitedly making preparations for long weekend travel in New Zealand. I have organised a girls’ weekend to Kaiteriteri. We plan to walk the beautiful Abel Tasman National Park and explore as much as possible.”

Jenny will pay herself the same bonus, using it for travel later in the year when she plans to attend a writer’s retreat in Oturehua and visit family living in Alexandra. Incidentally it was a friend living in Oturehua who told Jenny about a Central Otago grocer who, on hearing about Jenny’s act of generosity, decided to give gifts to his own staff. Which goes to show that viruses are not the only things that are contagious... generosity is too.

Editor’s note: You can hear a radio interview Jenny did with Jesse Mulligan of Radio New Zealand at https://bit.ly/2BK9zjl. Jenny has also written an opinion piece about thankfulness to God in tough times.

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