And while the agent-to-agent camaraderie was an important aspect of the volunteer event, an even more elusive bond was strengthened-the one between the home office and the field. "The most common positive comment we got [was one such as]: 'It was nice to spend the day with the senior vice president, and get to know him as a person,'" Klapper-Randa notes. "We made it optional for the home office, but we had a 98 percent response rate. In the end, their reaction was just as positive as the field's. They want to do it again."

Klapper-Randa and Mai do, too, and are busy making plans for the next event. For now, a community service project will rotate among AAL's four annual incentive events. Mai is already working to find a project for a 1997 Executive Conference in Lake Tahoe. She's started by calling the hotel, the United Way, and other national organizations and charities.

"I've been a very active volunteer and I have never been moved the way I was moved by [the Washington, DC projects]," Mai says. "I'd walk onto these sites and get goose bumps. What was special was the bonding between our people and those in need, many working right alongside them. I saw people hugging each other at the end of the day."