October 6, 2017
When helping clients set up charitable giving programs, we often advise them to start locally so they can see first-hand how their support makes a difference.
“Find organizations within your community that you are already familiar with,” Nikki Michelini, a director in wealth management and principal, has said on fathom. “Starting small and building from there is the best way to go about it.”
The employees of Aspiriant live this philosophy with our Day of Giving. Each office around the nation picks a local charity and spends part of a day lending many helping hands. This summer, employees enjoyed making their communities brighter by either supporting children, providing nourishment or building homes.
In several cities, Aspiriant volunteered at organizations that support children in various ways.
Our Los Angeles office employees (pictured above) left their mark all over Florence Griffith Elementary School in Watts, Calif. They painted murals on a variety of areas around the campus — from cafeteria walls to a storage bin. The project was part of the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools.
Hanna Lee, an executive assistant, said the changes — “completely transforming empty, vacant and grey spaces to brightly colored, artsy, fun paintings for kids” — were “huge.”
In San Diego, employees again supported TERI Inc., an organization in Oceanside, Calif., that provides a variety of programs that help children with autism and their families. This time, they worked with the equestrian program. Seven employees cleared out weeds and grass bordering a horse trail and covered the area with shade cloth and mulch to prevent more weeds. It was hot, sticky, dirty and exhausting work, but they enjoyed such a beneficial program.
“We got to see several very excited students take rides around the grounds. It brought them so much joy — so many squeals — and the animals were wonderfully patient,” said Linda Kitchens, a director in wealth management and principal at Aspiriant.
In Milwaukee, employees repainted an outdoor picnic pavilion, inside and out, for the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee’s Camp Whitcomb/Mason.
“The volunteer coordinator mentioned that these buildings on the camp rarely get painted because it is the type of work that is only performed by volunteers,” said Michele Melton, an assistant in investment advisory. “She was very thankful that we were able to complete the project in the time we had.”
And in Mountain View, Calif., good news got even better. The organization My New Red Shoes, which gives new shoes to Bay Area children in need, received an overwhelming number of shoe donations this summer, requiring them to move to a new warehouse. The 13 Aspiriant employees in our newest office helped organize and move shoes from the old warehouse in Foster City.
In both the East and West, nearly 60 employees helped provide food for the hungry.
The San Francisco office (pictured at bottom) volunteered for Project Open Hand. This charity started during the AIDS epidemic to give food to those inflicted with the terrible disease. Now, the organization serves 2,500 meals to the sick and elderly every day.
Employees chopped, weighed and packaged fresh, healthy food in a headquarters and production facility that Aspiriant’s Chief Operating Officer Michael Kossman helped to design and build.
On the other side of the country, the New York and Boston offices worked together to help Food Bank for New York City. Employees assisted low-income New Yorkers select packaged food and fresh produce in a supermarket-style setting in Harlem.
“The best part of this experience was working as a team to communicate with the individuals we were assisting,” said Vanessa Franco, an associate in investment advisory in New York. “The majority of them did not speak English, so we worked together to help them pick out food from the pantry, despite the language barrier.”
In the Midwest, Aspiriant helped families get new homes by volunteering for Habitat for Humanity.
The Cincinnati office hung cabinets and laid tile for a new house in Madisonville, Ohio. And the Minneapolis office crew traveled to Blain, a northern Twin Cities suburb, to build walls for a home scheduled to be completed next spring.
For Melanie Kraemer, an administrative assistant in Minneapolis, the most meaningful part of this experience was working with the couple who was receiving the home.
“They were talking a lot about how wonderful the program is, and how much it was saving them and their five children,” she said.
In addition to the hundreds of hours employees gave to these wonderful charities, Aspiriant also donated thousands of dollars to further seed their ambitious projects.
While the organizations’ leaders appreciated our time and money, we’re the ones who are truly grateful for and inspired by the dedicated work they do day-in and day-out. Many of us were able to meet the people who benefit directly from these services and see for ourselves how much they help.
“We talk to clients a lot about connecting to a much larger story we, as human beings, find ourselves caught up in. As a firm, being able to live that larger story by working side-by-side with incredible people to make our communities stronger is a humbling and rewarding experience,” Chief Practice Officer Bret Magpiong noted.
Linda Kitchens summed up the importance of these charities well, “The shared commitment to the populations they serve and their missions of empowering lives, restoring hope and providing solutions is real.”
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