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Local Businesses Working With Nonprofits

Jennifer Robino and Ryan Keller participate in the Gore Volunteer Time Program.Flagstaff’s largest private employer, W.L. Gore and Associates, Inc., is setting an example of philanthropy with several programs in place that provide opportunities for employees to give back to the community.

The Gore Volunteer Time Program allows employees to take eight hours of paid time each year to work for local non-profits. And when a Gore associate volunteers more than 20 hours a year for a group, the employee can apply for a volunteer support grant of up to $500 for that organization.

“The company also matches employee contributions to the United Way,” said Gore’s Susan Howe. When someone values Northland Hospice and gives money to that organization, she said, “We feel the best way to listen to that associate and what’s important to them, is to match their contributions dollar for dollar.” Howe recognizes a lot of groups and individuals are facing financial difficulties.

Ryan Keller enjoys doing his part and participating in Gore’s Volunteer Time Program. During his three years at Gore, he has judged science fairs at a local school, volunteered for the Adopt-A-Highway program and worked for a rural Fire/EMS Service. “I value Gore’s volunteer program because it promotes community involvement by providing an opportunity for associates to donate their time and talents to community organizations,” said Keller. “It also encourages associates to engage in altruistic experiences and participate in activities beneficial to the community.”

Fellow Gore associate Jennifer Robino volunteers at several local schools, Girls on the Run, and has worked on the local trail maintenance program. She says the Volunteer Time Program is part of what makes Gore a great place to work and enhances the company’s reputation, along with helping her personally. “Volunteering during a work day helps me give back to my community without disrupting my family life,” said Robino. “As a working mom with three school-aged children, I am now able to participate in classroom activities and field trips during the work day,” she added.

Gore employs about 1,800 people locally. While not every local company is large enough or profitable enough to allow employees to volunteer on company time, many business owners are finding ways to give back to the community.

More than a dozen business owners showed up at an event last month to benefit Flagstaff Shelter Services and the Northern Arizona Food Bank. The 4 Squares for the Homeless Dinner and auction was conceptualized to raise awareness of hunger and homelessness in Flagstaff. Chefs from Brix, Josephines, the Tinderbox and Karma Sushi used ingredients from the local food bank and the Flagstaff Family Food Center to prepare a four-course gourmet meal.

Steve Scully, an owner of Karma Sushi, says while the winter has been a tough timefor business, giving back is an important thing to do. “Especially with the economy the way it is, it’s important for everyone to jump in and do what they can for the community,” he said. He jokes that with a name like Karma, giving back is a requirement.

One of the sponsors of the dinner was Mickey Glasby of the Leavitt Group of Northern Arizona Insurance. “I think we all have a responsibility because I’ve heard before, we’re all a paycheck away from being hungry and homeless. We have to stick together in these hard times,” she said, suggesting people and businesses give either time or money to help local causes.

Kerry Ketchum agrees. The executive director of the Northern Arizona Food Bank says he has seen a 60 percent increase in the number of adults coming into the food bank for emergency assistance. Ketchum says people can make Flagstaff a stronger community by volunteering locally. “Pick a charity. Every non-profit that I speak to is under tremendous pressure right now, and if everyone did just a little bit, we could make a huge difference,” he said. FBN

Volunteer opportunities at some of the nonprofits mentioned in this article can be found at www.hotfood.org, www.flagstaffshelter.org, and www.nazunitedway.org

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