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Uniting Through Philanthropy

The past year has been tumultuous for our Nation.  The cohesive bond of our great country has been fractured in many ways, and emotions and relationships remain contentious.  Our Country was built on the principles of independence and opportunity.  We are truly blessed to live in this great Country, a perspective that is often lost in the negativity of the 24-hour news cycle and constant trolling in social media.  As the country begins to heal, I believe that everyone ultimately would benefit by setting aside differences and moving forward as a single United nation, embracing the freedoms and unalienable rights that are the foundation of this country.

An area of great pride for me is integrateIT’s focus on philanthropy.  No matter the differences that any of our teammates have, philanthropy is a core value that brings us all together. I am always proud to see our team come together to donate resources- be it time or money- to advocate for causes close to our hearts.  While each member of our team brings a unique perspective of advocacy with passion for a variety of charities, a common area of interest has always been the support of our military and their families.  On a personal front, I have great affinity and appreciation for our service members.  Many of my closest friends and loved ones have served our country; my father retired after 20 plus years as a Naval officer.  When I was younger, I spent several months being treated as an inpatient at Walter Reed medical center.  I saw firsthand how the military treats all members of its family- soldiers or their relatives- as one family.

A year ago I was introduced to the Dockery family, as their son played sports with my oldest son Jake.  The Dockery’s are a model family with outstanding core values.  I was attracted to their positive demeanor, core family values, and passion for philanthropy.  In conversation with Emma, I learned that her family founded the Yellow Ribbons United charitable organization, which supports military families who have been impacted by the loss of a family member who made the ultimate sacrifice protecting our freedoms.  I was immediately intrigued by the organization, and I began to research their efforts.  A staple event for Yellow Ribbons United is their annual Winter Wonderland event which honors our Tiny Heroes- the children of service members who died in combat.  It was an event that Geoff and I immediately wanted to be a part of.

It is impossible put yourselves in the shoes of a child who no longer has their mother or father by their side.  A child cannot comprehend the “why” of what happened to their parent; all they truly can wrap their hands around is the deep feeling of loss.  It is a feeling that never leaves them, and a gap that they endure on a daily basis.  The Winter Wonderland event, even for just one night, provides these children and their families the opportunity to escape into a world of fantasy and entertainment- to be shown the love and appreciation that we all have for them.

Words or pictures cannot capture just how amazing the Winter Wonderland event was. The children were treated to so many wonderful memories, from witnessing a magic show, to a variety of arts and crafts stations, to video games, ball pits, and candy stations. Each child received presents from major corporations such as Build a Bear and North Face. In a touching moment, the mothers and grandmothers of the children received a well-deserved present donated from Kendra Scott jewelers. Without sounding cliché, I can’t remember the last time I smiled so much.  It was incredible seeing so many disparate groups- congressmen, professional athletes, entrepreneurs, military leaders, and volunteers- banding together to support our military families.

I cannot express how proud I am that our integrateIT team banded together to participate in such an incredible experience.  I was touched by the unity and cohesion in the room.  I was proud to bring my son Jake to the event so that he could witness the community come together as one.  I cannot wait to support Yellow Ribbons United in their future endeavors.  I encourage you all to visit their website at www.yellowribbonsunited.org to learn more about their outstanding organization.  And most importantly, I hope that we all can find a cause, whatever that may be, to donate our resources to. We are all so blessed to live in the Country, to be part of this community.  Taking the time to reflect upon this and help others certainly puts things into perspective.

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Giving Back

Over the past eight years, I have probably interviewed over 200 prospective employees. While every conversation is different, there are always consistent “boiler plate” topics that are discussed- the history of the company, the vision for the future, potential job openings. The themes and messages behind these topics typically remain consistent; the history of the company can’t be re-written, the vision of the future remains consistent, and the open positions are pretty straight forward.

Where the conversation between me and a prospective employee turns unique is when we begin to discuss employee benefits. Why? Because different things are important to different people. Some people are driven by salary, others by work-life balance. The head of a household of five is very interested in our family healthcare plan, while a recent college graduate wants to hear about training and certification opportunities.

One benefit that intrigues all prospective employees is integrateIT’s commitment to charitable contributions and the community. Why is that? I’ve found it is the same reason I listed above- because different things are important to different people. If you view integrateIT’s website, you can see a sample of the diverse group of charities that our employees have supported over the years. A former soldier may be passionate about supporting our troops; a pet lover may be an advocate for supporting no-kill animal shelters. The list goes on and on.

integrateIT gives each employee a thousand dollars a year to contribute to a charity of their choice. I can proudly say that over the past three years alone, the company has contributed approximately $30,000 to various local and national charities. But writing a check, while invaluable, is easy.

Beginning in 2012, integrateIT entered a partnership with the Washington Literacy Center. integrateIT resources donate one thing that is more valuable than any financial contribution- their time. Over the past two years, we have conducted mock interviews with resources entering the job market. We have taught people how to use Microsoft products to write their first resumes. We have rid computers of viruses and cleared out operating systems to load software suites to teach people how to read. We have seen no greater satisfaction, both from our employees and those receiving our help, than the smiles on faces when someone prints their first resume, or reads for the first time.

It is this response that makes me want to do more. The Jason Beach Foundation is an organization that integrateIT has supported over the past few year, primarily through financial contributions. My goal is to help the Foundation further, and there is no greater contribution than time. At our last all hands meeting, I discussed this aspiration with our staff. Almost immediately, integrateIT resources started volunteering their time to build websites or help plan charitable events. The genuine enthusiasm of the staff made me proud, and I cannot wait to see our ideas turn into reality.

I am proud to see our company make a commitment to areas of our passion. I know that at the end of the day, this will be integrateIT’s lasting contribution. I encourage everyone to find their own passion to contribute to, be it with time, money, or other general support. The rewards are endless to all involved.

 

 

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