2019 Community Impact Awards: Businesses Giving Back to the Community
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Successful businesses are defined by much more than their annual profits, the products they sell or the services they offer. Innovative business leaders understand their organizations have a unique opportunity through philanthropy to engage with the community, contribute to the greater good and create a culture of caring that resonates throughout everything that they do. This year’s Community Impact Award winners are doing just that. Through monetary donations, employee volunteering or creative acts of kindness, they’re leading teams and joining together to make a tangible difference in Coastal Virginia. We’re honored to highlight these businesses in our 4th Annual Community Impact Awards.
Bank of America
Number of Employees: 208,000+
What They Do: Bank of America provides people, companies and institutional investors the financial products and services they need to help achieve their financial goals and has a global presence that delivers its products, services and expertise locally.
How They Help: Through a combination of investment, philanthropy and volunteerism, Bank of America has a strong commitment to meet the needs of the regional market. From an investment standpoint, Bank of America has been a significant purchaser of historic, low-income housing and new market tax credits, which has spurred the creation, preservation and development of affordable housing, commercial development and public facilities.
Last year, the bank’s charitable foundation awarded a $500,000 grant to EVMS to support the expansion of its teaching facility. In recent years, they have partnered with the Peninsula Community Foundation, the Hampton Roads Community Foundation and the Southeast Community Foundation to sponsor the annual "Give Local 757” day of philanthropy, raising more than $3 million in support of area nonprofits.
For the past 15 years, Bank of America has recognized outstanding nonprofits through their Neighborhood Builder program. Through this initiative, the nonprofit receives a $200,000 grant as well as leadership training. The company also provides opportunities for high school juniors and seniors for an internship at a local nonprofit through its Student Leader program. Finally, Bank of America encourages their teammates to volunteer by providing up to two hours of paid time off per week.
To our company, community impact looks like: asking each member of our community the question: What would you like the power to do? For some, this may mean assisting in the purchase of their first house, financing their children’s education or planning for retirement. To a business owner, it may be financing the expansion of a company or providing a line of credit to purchase inventory. For a nonprofit director, it could involve stocking a warehouse, building affordable housing or teaching financial literacy.
800-432-1000 | BankOfAmerica.com
The Beauty Tree Spa
Number of Employees: 1 employee and 3 commissioned associates
What They Do: From therapeutic massage to organic skincare and natural nail care and more, everything offered at this spa utilizes the natural botanicals, herbs, flowers, minerals, waters and elements that originate from nature. The goal is to help clients embrace natural beauty and flourish in a place of healing and life enrichment.
How They Help: Beauty Tree regularly provides products and services to charity events with no questions asked. They have an in-house sponsorship program which goes to local charity as well. It's a hand-built, real tree called the Beauty Tree of Life in their reception area with 314 hand-cut glass leaves (the number of Pi because they believe we have infinite opportunities every day to live beautifully and make a difference—and because it is the minimum number of times a person needs to hear how beautiful and important they are before they believe it) that they ask patrons to sponsor for $5 per month per leaf.
In just five months, the spa has collected almost $300 for two local charities through Easy As Sunday Morning Yoga and other events. They have also given more than $1,000 of goods and services to a variety of silent and other auctions for a number of local charities.
For them, even small daily efforts count like collecting trash in the parking lot and surrounding sidewalk. Their facility was constructed using a majority of repurposed and salvaged items, and they offer all organic products and services.
To our company, community impact looks like: a challenge that we voluntarily take up daily. We know that true community impact must be purposeful, intentional and practiced routinely. We opened our doors with this daily commitment to making a difference and will continue that effort until we are no longer here.
757-226-9474 | TheBeautyTreeSpa.com
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Towne Realty
Number of Employees: 93
What They Do: For more than 35 years, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Towne Realty has provided a full range of real estate services, marketing the finest properties in Southeastern Virginia.
How They Help: For many years Virginia Beach-based Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Towne Realty has raised funds for a myriad of charities including Seton House, Sunshine Kids Foundation, Toys4Tots, United Way, Girls on the Run, Susan G. Komen for the Cure and more. In 2017, BHHS Towne Realty raised and gave over $40,000 to the Sunshine Kids. In 2018, they raised over $40,000 to award seven $5,000 scholarships to children that are active duty military service member dependents and continued that effort with two recent fundraising golf tournaments with the goal of increasing the number of scholarships to 10.
The scholarships are designed to offset the Defense Department’s recently instituted 16-year cap on the ability of service members to transfer their GI benefits to their dependents. “As a company that proudly supports our military service members, we are stepping up to the plate and asking you to join us,” notes the marketing materials for the fundraising events.
The company’s mission of creating “an environment that nurtures professional growth and success with the purpose of providing the highest level of service and the maximum rewards of achievement” is reflected not only in their work as real estate professionals but as active participants in the community they serve.
“Our efforts go way beyond the home sale to be sure we impact lives in Southeastern Virginia,” explains Barbara Wolcott, chairman and CEO. “Our approach and planning for fundraising and giving is a part of our annual plan. Our 400 agents and nearly 100 staff members are all involved in these efforts.”
To our company, community impact looks like: serving those that serve, live and work around us.
757-690-0439 | BHHSTowneRealty.com
Boyd’s Construction & Consulting
Number of Employees: 6
What They Do: Boyd’s Construction and Consulting is dedicated to leading the industry in improving family’s homes and quality of life with cleaner air.
How They Help: A family-centric business, the culture of Boyd’s Construction was designed to be a community-based organization that rebuilds communities from the inside out. Among several annual giving back initiatives, they accept community nominations for deserving families that need work done in their home, and the Boyd Construction team goes in and makes those repairs at no cost for the family.
The company also gives to community schools for programs that are not funded elsewhere. They donated $2,000 to Wilson High School for a mentorship program for first-generation, college-bound graduates. They surprised a cafeteria worker at a local high school with an appreciation basket worth $500 in gift cards and pampering items.
The Boyd team is creatively selected in part for their commitment to giving back to the community, says Owner Andrea Boyd. They brainstorm as a team and come up with solutions to community needs.
“The team gets joy sharing joy,” Boyd explains. “Giving back is the reason why we do what we do. The community is our customers, but more important, our homes. This is where we raise our families. We have to be the change we hope to see. What better way to inspire change, but just to get out there and roll up our sleeves?”
To our company, community impact looks like: solutions, whether it is giving a helping hand, or going a step above the norm.
757-321-0700 | BoydConstruction.com
Number of Employees: 215
What They Do: Damuth Trane is a Chesapeake-based professional energy services company that specializes in providing comfort solutions to clients through the sale of commercial HVAC equipment, building automation, parts, service and energy solutions.
How They Help: Damuth Trane has several corporate volunteer initiatives for their associates to participate in each year including the Hampton Roads St. Jude Spring Fling, Special Love’s Tidewater Family Weekend, the United Way of South Hampton Roads’ Day of Caring and the Volunteer Hampton Roads Family Volunteer Day.
A corporate partner of the United Way of South Hampton Roads, they hold an annual campaign for associates to pledge funds to the organization, including raising nearly $32,000 from paycheck pledges and personal giving in 2018. The company is a member of the Hampton Roads Corporate Volunteer Council and a trustee-level supporter of the Hampton Roads Chamber.
Damuth Trane is also committed to giving back to the community through charitable contributions. The company donates and/or sponsors several local community events each year which bring awareness and impact areas such as health, education, low-income and underserved communities, veterans, the environment and more.
In partnership with the Chesapeake Trane Parts Center, Damuth Trane has provided equipment donations to organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and Faith Works Coalition, as well as the local fire department and local schools.
“We are fortunate to be a thriving, growing business,” says President Clint Damuth. “Re-investing in our community is building on the principles set when we opened the doors in 1970.”
To our company, community impact looks like: using our organization’s funds, talents and gifts to enrich our region, as well as help where we have the talent, passion and ability to do so.
757-588-0200 | Damuth.com
Electronic Systems, Inc.
What They Do: Electronic Systems, Inc. (ESI), a Xerox company, delivers market-leading technology solutions, exceptional service and consulting expertise to businesses and organizations in Virginia Beach, Richmond, Roanoke and Chantilly and is one of the largest providers of customized, scalable, end-to-end information technology, document technology and professional service solutions in the Mid-Atlantic region.
How They Help: ESI gives back to the local community through internships, donations, mentorships, in-kind donations, fundraisers, special events and volunteer opportunities. ESI supports the efforts of its employees to give back through their time and talents to the community including up to eight hours of paid time off to volunteer at a qualifying organization. Employees have helped build houses with Habitat for Humanity, sorted and distributed food for the Foodbank, transported cancer patients to and from treatment through the American Cancer Society and volunteered at local schools and nonprofit special events. Additionally, ESI supports community organizations financially and through organizing events.
“Giving back to the community has been a core factor in ESI’s mission since it was founded,” says Marketing Operations Specialist Nina Dark. “Whether through paying employees to participate in volunteer efforts, organizing onsite charitable events or leading the charge in serving as a key sponsor in a community event, ESI recognizes the importance of setting the standard in excellence on both the business side and community side.”
Dark notes that ESI has given hundreds of thousands of dollars and/or hosted many events benefiting local community organizations, including but not limited to the American Red Cross, the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore, Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters, Special Olympics, Eggleston, ODU Educational Foundation, Young Life, Virginia Beach SPCA and YWCA.
ESI’s most recent American Red Cross blood drive registered 25 donors, collected 20 pints of blood and recruited six first-time donors helping to fill needed blood types. In April of 2019, ESI was a lead sponsor for YWCA’s Walk-A-Mile in Her Shoes event which raised money to help support shelters and provide services to victims of sexual violence.
To our company, community impact looks like: supporting, driving and providing a workplace where employees are not only encouraged but are expected to serve in a positive and impactful way as leaders in our community.
757-497-8000 | ESI.net
Elizur International Inc.
Number of Employees: 5
What They Do: Elizur International manufactures original glass ornaments, glass accents for home décor and reusable glass straws, HeartStraws, made with borosilicate glass, that are an eco-friendly alternative to single-use plastic straws that are harmful to the environment and marine wildlife. They offer quality products and services, including packaging and reproductions, for medium- to large-size retailers.
How They Help: After Hurricane Michael made landfall in fall 2018 leaving destruction with debris strewn across the beach, owner and CEO Kevin Ren wished to create a solution to the pollution. Ren and his sons started researching the amount of plastic waste in our oceans and its overall impact on the environment. “We want to clean up the mess on our planet and give back to the community we live in,” says Meredith Lettiere, director of business development. Following the storm, the Elizur staff and their families met at Sandbridge for a beach cleanup, which inspired the creation of the company’s HeartStraws made from the glass tubes they use for their ornament designs. In May, HeartStraws joined the Virginia Beach Hotel Association, providing greater advocacy for their use. The small team at Elizur also participated in Clean the Bay Day, while a pair of employees are part of the Sustainability Task Force for the Hotel Association.
As a manufacturer of glass décor, Elizur International is introducing a Patriotic Collection of glass ornaments. “In Virginia Beach, we are surrounded by the heroic men and women who are or have served in our military and the families who support them. They are our friends and neighbors,” says Lettiere.
“We wanted to give something back to them, even if just in a small way.” Fifteen percent of the proceeds from the Patriotic Collection will benefit the Navy Special Operations Foundation, a nonprofit supporting NSO personnel and their families.
To our company, community impact looks like: a legacy of caring and compassion we can pass on to the next generation.
757-648-8502 | ElizurInc.com
The Franklin Johnston Group
Number of Employees: 525
What They Do: An experienced multifamily management and development company, The Franklin Johnston Group's portfolio includes more than 100 communities and more than 18,000 units along the East Coast.
How They Help: TFJG coordinates Operation School Supplies, providing backpacks of school supplies for each child in TFJG’s communities. This was an initiative started by company founder Wendell Franklin in the ’80s that was carried over when TFJG was started. They also run a United Way campaign every summer and allow employees to make charitable payroll deductions throughout the year. During their last campaign, they raised more than $30,000 through payroll deductions and one-time checks.
They also participate in the annual United Way South Hampton Roads Day of Caring event and raise money for the JT Walk put on by The Virginia Gentlemen Foundation, with funds raised given to ALS research. Other charitable involvement includes community fundraising events for organizations such as the HER Foundation.
The company has a culture of employees that love to give back to their community, and they are encouraged to do so, receiving two paid volunteer days per year.
To our company, community impact looks like: a part of what we do. It is bringing people together to make a positive, sustainable change in others' lives. Giving back to the community and providing opportunities for our employees has been important to the company since it was founded and is something that will continue to be a part of who we are.
757-965-6200 | TheFranklinJohnstonGroup.com
iFLY Virginia Beach
Founded: 2015 (Virginia Beach location)
Number of Employees: 32
What They Do: iFLY is an indoor skydiving facility with a vertical wind tunnel where visitors can experience body flight while guided by an instructor. The wind tunnel with controlled air emulates a freefall from an airplane and provides an exhilarating sensation of flying.
How They Help: iFLY Virginia Beach has developed, donated and implemented two 13-week athletic programs where 24 fifth-grade students from Seatack Elementary School participate in indoor skydiving, known as “Seatack Soars.” The Seatack students are part of the Achievable Dream Academy, a program that provides additional opportunities for educational success and partners with community organizations that are devoted to the students’ welfare.
“Seatack Soars” aims to create both a challenge and present a reward with learning how to fly with body flight as students develop skills with confidence and are inspired to achieve. Students arrive by bus at iFLY each week and meet different guest speakers that discuss a variety of topics while the program gives guidance through mentorship. The students are fed and fly and return to Seatack after the session, giving them an after-school exercise during a time when parents are often away at work or otherwise not at home. The iFLY staff also routinely visits Seatack Elementary to talk further with the staff and students.
iFLY began developing the program over nine months beginning in 2016 to become an authorized after-school program with the City of Virginia Beach Public Schools and the Achievable Dream Academy. After three seasons, they will continue and plan to offer the program to students from Lynnhaven Middle School.
To our company, community impact looks like: proud and confident kids at high school graduation who otherwise may have had difficulty overcoming challenges in life and not finishing high school. This pride and confidence is learned through our program and will be with them for life. We will build lifelong relationships with these students.
757-754-4359 | IFlyVaBeach.com
Klett Consulting Group
Number of Employees: Approximately 50
What They Do: Klett Consulting Group is a professional services company that provides systems engineering, cybersecurity and program management. KCG is a trusted advisor to businesses, government organizations and institutions across a variety of sectors.
How They Help: Founded in Virginia Beach, Klett Consulting Group has focused on the growth and development of our region by placing an emphasis on developing technical and economic opportunities in the area. KCG is a service-disabled veteran-owned small business that hires retired military personnel and aids in military transitions in Coastal Virginia. Strong leadership has guided the company’s vision to make an impact in the community, particularly with Mark Klett, founder of the company. Klett represents the company and serves on the board of a number of regional organizations devoted to the region’s prosperity and quality of life.
“KCG knows the importance and impact that education has on the future of the local community,” says Sarah Blow, communications coordinator. KCG partnered with the Kempsville High School Entrepreneurship and Business Academy earlier this year to promote the company’s cybersecurity education initiative for schools in Virginia Beach while educating community members on cyber hygiene and cybersecurity. The company also sponsored the 2019 Kempsville Masonic Lodge’s Annual Bull Roast where profits support local student scholarships. Additionally, they offer internships to students to further their education, develop and enhance skills, meet new professionals and provide an opportunity to learn more about careers.
“KCG’s goal is to be an active member in the community and have a positive and memorable impact that lasts a lifetime,” explains Blow. This year, KCG donated $1,000 to the Chesapeake Bataan Death March memorial walk for World War II veterans to aid their effort to support veterans living in our area. Further, they’re dedicated in community outreach efforts by supporting Toys for Tots, Armed Services YMCA and the ziMS Foundation.
To our company, community impact looks like: partnering with our employees to contribute financially and through time to the organizations and charities that support their families and other families in the community…For KCG, we believe our company is most impactful to the community when it supports the values of love, innovation, health and opportunity.
757-721-5040 | KCG-Inc.net