Volunteer Feature: Mark Capehart, Kerbey Lane Cafe

Kerbey Lane Cafe puts smiles on people’s faces every day with their iconic delicious pancakes, but that’s not the only way they make Austin greater. Through their well-established philanthropic core values, Kerbey Lane Cafe emphasizes the importance of philanthropy by supporting for UWATX through running employee giving campaigns and setting up volunteer opportunities for their employees. From school beautification projects to displaying UWATX table tents at their restaurants, they do it all!

Mark Capehart, KLC – Round Rock Community Ambassador, is a longtime committed UWATX volunteer. KLC restaurant managers go by the title of “Community Ambassador” and make corporate social responsibility a priority by engaging their team with volunteer opportunities. For years, Mark has been the philanthropic liaison for Kerbey Lane Cafe and helped coordinate the adoption of local child development centers that he and his staff volunteer at on a continuing basis.

We are proud to have dedicated volunteers like Mark, so we sat down with him and asked him about his experiences leading Kerbey Lane Cafe’s volunteer efforts:

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you began leading the volunteer efforts for Kerbey Lane Cafe?

My interest is really selfish. I like to volunteer; I want to help out. Through this outlet, I am able to be very warmly received anywhere; when Kerbey Lane wants to volunteer, everybody gets excited about it. Having such willing and positive support from the company really makes so many opportunities possible.  Planning and coordinating events with Nikki (UWATX Director of Volunteer Engagement) really makes the process so easy. Her enthusiasm is amazing. People like Nikki and Jeff (UWATX Development Officer) make it so easy to get involved. It would be impossible to do without them and the help of United Way.

Are there any management skills you use as a Community Ambassador that also come in handy when coordinating volunteer projects?

It’s easy to recruit people for volunteer opportunities – so no manager coercion involved! The kind of people that represent Kerbey’s core values are the same kind of people that would want to volunteer. I’ve found the more accessible it is, the easier it is to recruit. It’s been a great leadership opportunity given the independence I’ve had to develop the framework. It’s grown from just one store to now all of the stores taking on and owning their own causes and projects.

What type of volunteer projects interest you the most?

I get great satisfaction out of working with my hands. I don’t always have that at Kerbey, so it’s nice to work and sweat and build. I love going out to help at Trinity Child Development Center and EBP and having the freedom to figure out how to solve their problems. They trust us that we’re going to take care of it. Trinity has been my favorite ongoing volunteer project. They’re so nice there, and I enjoy building those relationships and seeing they’re happy when we’re there on a regular basis.

What reactions have you seen from your employees regarding Kerbey Lane Cafe volunteer efforts?

It’s so nice to come together over something besides pancakes and customers. We’re doing something positive, helping other people and getting to know each other at the same time. After volunteering with some of my staff, I saw them in a different light. Kerbey Lane team members have embraced different forms of philanthropy; some like to give time and others prefer donating money via campaign. I can be more myself than when I’m being the “boss man” on a Kerbey shift. I’ve noticed that everybody has different interests and strengths that I would never see while working at the restaurant.

Corporate social responsibility is becoming more important to businesses in Austin and other cities as well. Why do you believe it is important for organizations to make this a priority?

Kerbey Lane Cafe has defined values that emphasize our relationship with the communities we interact with. We want to make peoples’ days better – whether it’s through food, service, philanthropy, donations, whatever– to make people happy, to brighten their day. We want to put good out in the world. Really, it’s relationships we value – with our vendors, team members, community; it’s all important to Kerbey. We care about quality of life and giving back.

What causes do you care most about in your personal life?

Exploitation of innocence really bothers me. I remember the imagination I had when I was a kid, playing with toys for hours…to deprive a child of that is wrong. If a child can’t trust his or her guardians…to take advantage of that naïve trust is very shameful. I was watching Jurassic Park 2 not long ago and found myself getting upset with the poaching scenes – totally fake, totally dinosaurs – but that theft of innocence was very unsettling. On a lighter note, Astros baseball. Longhorn football. And kitties.

What is your favorite part of your job?

It never gets boring. There is always so much to do. It’s like a mecca for people who obsess over cleanliness and organization. If having all of your Tabasco bottles facing neatly in a row gives you satisfaction, then Kerbey is a great place to be. I love organization so having the freedom to have that be my job while coaching others to do it and see its benefit is great.

Thank you Mark and Kerbey Lane staff for continuing to find new ways to make Austin greater! 

Just like Kerbey Lane Café employees, you can improve your community in a variety of ways. Check out our Hands on Central Texas page and learn about how you too can become an outstanding volunteer.