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Charles Dickens was right: It begins at home

October 19, 2012 Blog 3 min read

In my last blog, I talked about my admiration for United Way and all that the organization does for our communities. We recently held a two-week fundraiser for the organization as part of our annual firmwide campaign. This is just one of the initiatives we rally around as a firm through Plante Moran Cares, and I’m thrilled, as usual, by the generosity displayed by our staff.

While initiatives like these are going on globally, however, there are also a number of charitable enterprises quietly going on locally around the firm. One such example comes from our Grand Rapids office. When I first heard this was happening, I was blown away (in a good way!) by the scope of what the office wanted to accomplish. This is the kind of thing that makes me proud to be a Plante Moran staff member.

First, some background: Becky, an administrative assistant in our Grand Rapids office, has a 20-year-old son named Dylan. Dylan was born with cerebral palsy; as a result, he has no use of his legs and limited use of his arms and hands. Taking care of him has become increasingly difficult as he’s grown. Now, Becky is not one to complain; she’s an amazing mother who goes the extra mile to care for her son daily. However, one day she looked particularly tired, and her team partner, Jon, asked her why. Becky confided in him that everything she needs to do physically for Dylan is difficult—especially given that her home is not equipped with a handicapped bathroom.

The more Jon thought about this—after all, lack of a handicapped bathroom not only makes bathing difficult but creates the risk of injury to both Becky and Dylan—the more he wanted to help. “We do so many amazing things as a firm for charitable organizations,” he told me. “Becky is one of our own family. What if we raised the money to convert her existing bathroom into one that’s handicapped-accessible?”

And that’s just what Jon did. The Grand Rapids staff and partners immediately supported the cause—they were delighted to help one of their own. Unfortunately, the existing bathroom was so small that they had to build a room onto it, creating additional expense and complexity. No matter…the Grand Rapids office had it covered. So far they’ve raised about $20,400 of the necessary $22,000 for the project, which is expected to be completed by Halloween.

How did they do this? Through several means:

  1. Jon challenged all Grand Rapids partners to donate a minimum of $500 to the project. All happily contributed (and most contributed in excess of that amount).
  2. The office held a 1-mile walk and 5K fun run in downtown Grand Rapids; the suggested donation was $20 for adults and $10 for children. More than 120 people participated.
  3. Erin, a Grand Rapids in-charge, did a triathlon and encouraged people to sponsor her, raising an additional $800.
  4. People from other offices around the firm heard about what Grand Rapids was doing and sent in contributions, oftentimes anonymously.
  5. The office held a number of “jeans days” encouraging staff to donate money for the privilege of wearing jeans to work

Jon tells me that the office plans to raise the remaining money via an auction at their holiday party.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the Grand Rapids staff (and others around the firm) for their support of this cause. When I first heard that Grand Rapids planned to do this, I thought, “That’s an ambitious goal.” But I’ve seen, time and again, what Plante Moran can do when we align in support of a common goal. Together, we can produce results that no one can produce alone. Just ask Dylan and Becky.

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