Many business leaders across North American are serious about using their positions and resources to benefit members of the communities in which they live and work. From donating money, products and pro bono services to nonprofit organizations, houses of worship, healthcare facilities and other worthy entities to actively getting involved as volunteers during evenings and weekends, it’s become clear that an important part of doing business today includes identifying needs and providing assistance where needed.
CEOs and executives of all types of companies large and small are being good neighbors. In recent weeks, Zoom, the videoconferencing company, has been helping other companies set up online meetings with employees working remotely. At the same time, Zoom’s CEO has offered free accounts to any K-12 school that has had to close during the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing students to continue learning without further taxing school budgets.
“The company has to be under incredible strain right now,” said Megan Kashner, director of social impact at the Kellogg School. “It could be making money hand over fist off K-12 schools, yet the CEO made a choice for the public good. It’s huge.”
For quite some time, Toronto resident George Scorsis — executive chairman of WeedMD, a Canadian company that grows and provides medical and recreational cannabis to adults — has been involved with The Agincourt Food Bank in Scarborough.
Last fall, donations to the food bank were down in the fall just as requests for food were increasing. This is often the case at that time of year after the summer surge depletes their inventory. Realizing that this was happening, Scorsis collaborated with other professionals to establish a major food drive to help the organization.
He called on a number of his fellow local business executives who grew up in and around Scarborough, and asked that they do two things: organize truckloads of food to be dropped off at the food bank and raise awareness of the organization so that more people would be aware of the need and make donations.Scorsis continues working closely with the food bank today, most recently during the COVID-19 pandemic.
George Scorsis adds, “Scarborough was our safe haven and a place that we’re proud to be part of, but also at the core of who we are today. Although many of us have moved away, and times have changed, Scarborough still has a special place in my heart and it was shocking for me to see the challenges that the ACSA Food Bank is facing in supporting the local community. I am encouraging everyone to pitch in and do as much as they can to fill the pantry with much-needed food and supplies.”
Scorsis is just one of many business leaders who invest resources to help their communities.
In Addison, Texas, employees at Shields Legal Group, a provider of legal services, expressed the desire to help their community. The company responded by launching IMPACT | 365 in partnership with Communities Foundation of Texas. Through this initiative, the employees donate hundreds of volunteer hours each year by participating in food and gift drives, makeing charitable contributions, and more.
According to Jim Shields, principal, “What started out as a mission to give back to our local community has not only boosted morale among our employees but has enhanced our relationship with our clients. Building a company culture of service and generosity is a winning proposition, no matter the size of your company.”
Community involvement can take on a wide and diverse variety of forms. For example, in Mequon, Wisconsin, senior living facilities placed restrictions on socialization and visitation to help protect their residents from the coronavirus. The intentions are good, but the situation creates more isolation for the residents. “They’re among the most drastically affected by this whole crisis,” said Basil Bearer, co-owner of Big Frog Custom T-Shirts & More, a Mequon company that creates printed apparel and other items. “Without a doubt, regardless of where you are with this issue, you can’t contest the kind of jeopardy these guys are in.”
To keep residents connected with their families and lift their spirits during the pandemic, Big Frog has been printing personalized shirts for seniors living at Milwaukee-area facilities. The company worked with Home Helpers Home Care, an in-home health care provider, to identify and develop contact with local senior communities. Bearer says he also sends coloring pages to the directors of the facilities, who give them to residents’ families. The families can draw pictures, write messages or reprint photos on the page, then take a picture of their creation and send it back to Big Frog, which transfers the designs onto T-shirts using a digital printer. Home Helpers then delivers the shirts to residents.
As these and many other business leaders, from executives at major companies to entrepreneurs at the smallest enterprises in virtually every city and town across North America, continue to serve their communities, their actions provide inspiration for others, who are eager and willing to provide help where needed.