For Kali Freeland, supporting Autism awareness is personal. Kali’s cousin, Mandy Conner, founded Northeast Florida Advocates for Autism and Related Disabilities. Mandy started her organization to raise awareness and funds for families in NE Florida with Autism and Related Disabilities. Mandy’s daughter Katelyn loves riding in golf carts, which inspired Mandy’s idea to organize a Golf Cart Poker Run for Autism.
Saturday, September 26th was the 7th Annual Katelyn’s Golf Cart Poker Run for Autism. Participating golf carts visit 5 stops around the Pirates Woods area of Fernandina. Police blocked the streets for 173 participating golf carts this year! At each stop, participants would draw one poker card and compete for the best hand. All cards / scoresheets were safely collected, and the winner was announced at the end of the day.
The event raised $35,000 this great cause!
“I am always proud to volunteer at this event with my family,” said Kali. “This year, I was proud to include Paul Davis slap bracelets in the event bags and represent our brand at this wonderful event!”
One minute you are sound asleep, and the next you hear a loud boom. You awake to the sounds of a stormy night and attribute the boom to a lightning strike or a loud clap of thunder. When you look outside and do not see anything concerning you try to go back to sleep. Moments later, you begin to hear the sound of smoke alarms going off down the hallway of your apartment building. In your grogginess, you tell yourself this is not unusual, they often go off when neighbors burn toast, and it was the wee hours of the morning, after all. Soon, you hear smoke alarms coming from the other side of the building and are panicked by the real possibility that this is much more serious than a thunderstorm. You open the door to see what is going on and the stench of smoke confirms your worst fears. Your apartment building is on fire.
This terrifying scenario is was what Brandon Camfield and his girlfriend Callie Thompson, employees of Poolman outside of Dallas, TX awoke to in the early morning hours of August 30, 2020.
They quickly gathered what they could –wallet, keys, purse, phones and cat – and bolted down the stairs. When they looked at the building, they could see a fire raging directly above their third floor apartment. Realizing that the smoke alarms in the lower floors may not have been triggered, the couple ran door to door, banging as hard and loudly as they could to waken their neighbors and help them safely escape the burning building.
The couple watched in disbelief as fire crews fought the growing blaze.
Eighty-four of the 86 units were occupied at the time, and miraculously, all residents and pets were safely evacuated.
Soon, the American Red Cross arrived and teams of volunteers assisted residents with everything from temporary housing to clothing and food. Fortunately for Brandon and Callie, they had family nearby who offered them a place to stay.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, though it is believed to have been started by a lightning strike to the rooftop directly above Brandon and Callie’s apartment. The weight of the water used to extinguish the fire caused the floor of their apartment to fall through to the leasing office on the first floor. Brandon and Callie lost everything except for the clothes on their backs. The material possessions can be replaced but sadly, many irreplaceable family mementos were also lost in the fire.
“Watching I knew it was going to be bad, and I assumed we would have water and smoke damage. I never expected to hear that all of our belongings fell through to the first floor,” said Brandon. “The building is considered structurally unsound so we have not been able to get in to see if anything is salvageable.”
The couple applied for a grant from the FirstService Relief Fund under the natural disaster category and Emergency Assistance Foundation, the Relief Fund administrator, worked with them to ensure quick approval and payment of their grant.
“We are very glad we had secured renters insurance when we moved into our apartment. This, coupled with the grant we received from the FirstService Relief Fund, has been so helpful in getting us back on our feet,” said Brandon. “I’m not someone who ever wants to ask for help, so this has been very difficult for me. I am blown away by the kindness and generosity people have shown us, and appreciate all of my colleagues who have donated to the Relief Fund.”
Brandon and Callie have been staying with family since the fire and saving for a down payment on a home they can call their own.
Brandon and Callie’s story is proof that unforeseen disasters can happen to any of us, at any time. That’s why the FirstService Relief Fund exists, to help our people during their time of need. If you have suffered a personal financial hardship, or know a colleague who has, we encourage you to apply for a grant.
As is the case for many people throughout the world, 2020 has been a tough year for Cole Stewart. When the pandemic hit earlier this year, the restaurant where he works as a chef shut down, meaning Cole, like thousands of other Americans, suddenly found himself out of work. A few months later, he suffered another blow when he tragically lost his father to suicide.
This summer, the 31-year-old husband and father to a five-year-old daughter, began experiencing pain in his lower jaw, which he assumed was a toothache. When the pain worsened, and began interfering with his ability to perform day-to-day activities, he scheduled an appointment to see the dentist.
He was stunned when x-rays revealed that the source of his pain wasn’t a toothache, but a mass in his lower mandible. A mass that needed to be removed immediately and sent for biopsy to determine if it was cancerous.
Testing and treatment comes with a hefty price tag
Cole did not have medical insurance and the cost of the procedure to remove and biopsy the mass was more than he could afford without a source of income. The dentist required a 50% deposit to remove the mass, which Cole was unable to pay. Thinking about the worst-case scenario, that the mass might be cancerous and would require invasive treatment and extensive (and expensive) reconstructive surgery to rebuild his jaw, only added to his stress and worry.
Fortunately, Cole’s mother, Kristi Beauchamp, works as the Office Manager at Poolman in Texas, which is a FirstService subsidiary. Kristi, who contributes to the FirstService Relief Fund through automatic payroll deductions, immediately applied for a grant.
The FirstService Relief Fund provides monetary support
Because the FirstService Relief Fund provides monetary grants to those suffering personal financial hardship, which includes hardships brought on by the serious illnesses of immediate family members, Kristi’s application was approved. The entire process was very quick and she received funds right away, allowing Cole to schedule his procedure. Doctors removed a coin sized mass, which, to everyone’s relief, was benign. Cole’s life quickly returned to normal, and within six weeks of his initial appointment, he was happy to be back to work, and even happier to enjoy time with his family without worrying about the future.
“The FirstService Relief Fund provided a shining light for my family during a very dark time. I was amazed by how easy the process was to apply, and how quickly my application was approved,” said Kristi. “It almost sounds too good to be true. I encourage anyone who is facing a personal financial hardship to apply for a grant. This is an amazing program and I’m proud to work for a company that cares so deeply for its team members.”Cole’s story is a poignant reminder that any of our lives can change in the blink of an eye. We encourage all of our people to familiarize themselves with the FirstService Relief Fund in the event they, or someone they work with, might benefit from a grant.
CertaPro of St. Charles County in St. Louis, Missouri came up with an innovative way to celebrate their painters and families. In the past, the team gathered together for an annual Painter Appreciation Cookout. Due to Covid-19 guidelines there was no safe way to host 50+ painters and their families this year. Instead, the team delivered “gift buckets” filled with goodies and a bonus so they can enjoy a family cookout on CertaPro! Certa’s painters have worked extremely hard throughout this pandemic delivering quality work while maintaining a safe environment for themselves and for clients.
What a wonderful way to show appreciation for this dedicated and hard working team! And a thank you @sherwinwilliams for contributing to the goodies!
Following up on its 2018 involvement with Nashville-based Men of Valor’s Phase 1 housing build, California Closets of Tennessee recently completed the installation of 33 more closets in the Phase 2 building, Valor Ridge. This brings its total contribution to 93 new closets — with all materials and labor given free of charge.
The new residential spaces at Valor Ridge will provide housing for participants in Men of Valor’s year-long prison aftercare and re-entry program. The recidivism rate (prisoners rearrested after release) in Tennessee is 51 percent. The recidivism rate for graduates of the Men of Valor program is less than 10 percent.
“We are excited to continue to support the life-changing work of Men of Valor,” says CCTN Owner Kurt Schusterman. “California Closets of Tennessee is committed to looking for ways to give back to others who are making an impact in our community. Clearly, the Men of Valor team is doing just that. This was a team effort and is a great example of living out our company values.”
Additionally, Kurt and his team were thrilled to get the support of CC vendors to help make this possible, including DixiePly for wood product, Valendrawers for the drawers, Salice for the runners, and TAG hardware for poles and other hardware.
“As a faith-based nonprofit we are always grateful for donations,” said David Miller, Men of Valor’s Development Director. “We appreciate California Closets of Tennessee once again stepping forward to support our mission by donating closets for the second phase of housing at our Valor Ridge community.”
When Jason Phillips, Director of Strategic Accounts for CertaPro Painters, learned one of the company’s clients, JEA Senior Living, had formed a fundraising team for the virtual Walk to End Alzheimer’s he was quick to sign on to help.
He recruited family to join him, launched a fundraising page and promoted his plans through LinkedIn. Within a little over a week he exceeded his fundraising goal of $500.
The day of the walk, Jason was joined by his wife, his sister and her husband and they spent the morning hiking the beautiful Salmon Creek trail in his hometown of Vancouver, WA.
“Alzheimer’s is a disease that devastates many families, and it’s one that afflicts many residents of our client’s senior living facilities,” said Jason. “It was my pleasure to help raise awareness of Alzheimer’s and support the work JEA Senior Living does to honor the experience of aging for the residents they serve.”
JEA Senior Living operates more than 50 specialized care centers around the country to meet the special needs of Alzheimer’s patients.
For more information, or to make a donation, click here.
We love sharing stories of how our team members find their own Social Purpose. Efrain Montoya, a painter with CertaPro in Thousand Oaks, CA, wanted to help those in need in El Salvador. Efrain, whose brother lives there, has been collecting monetary donations here in the United States and and sending the money to his brother in El Salvador. His brother uses the money to buy groceries and other essentials for those in need. Many of the people they help are extremely impoverished, living in shacks in rural areas with no easy access or means to obtain food or other supplies.
Kudos to Efrain and his brother for identifying a way they can help people and putting together a plan to make a difference in their lives.
Many of the supply deliveries have been recorded, and can be viewed below.
Back in the spring, West Palm Beach GM Anette Jordan was invited to a fundraiser for a new school in their county of Port Saint Lucie that would be dedicated to children with Autism and related disabilities. Now, the Exceptional Academy for Differently-Abled Learners Inc is a private, non-profit learning center offering a full-time academic educational program for grades 1-6, as well as part-time homeschool enrichment classes for grades K-6.
The school is different than others because of its focus on children’s abilities, instead disabilities. With input from each student’s family, the school’s team of experts tailor a curriculum based on what a child is interested in and the things that he/she is currently successful at. With confidence, grows skills; the teachers work with the children, and their families, to help build their current skills and attain new ones.
This summer, the West Palm Beach team closed one of their older showrooms and opened a brand new one with all new displays. Knowing the school’s needs, Anette rallied her team. They reconfigured several of the displays from their old showroom and installed them at the school – a wonderful and equally “green” effort that also spared the team from discarding all the displays in landfills!
Take a good look around your home. Chances are, you’ll find things you’re not using that are just taking up space. We all accumulate extra stuff over the years that we don’t need. And often these very items could be put to good use by someone who does need them.
Now is a great time to reduce clutter in your home, simplify your life, save money and give back to those in need.
Start small, beginning with one area or room at a time. It can be as simple as your junk drawer or your guest bathroom vanity.
We suggest for each room or area you plan to declutter, you begin with five boxes (or bags). Label them as follows: Keep, Donate, Trash, Recycle, Re-locate.
An important part of your decluttering process will be collecting and relocating items you are keeping so they are kept together and in a logical place, i.e. setting up a central location for all batteries or lightbulbs. This is where your life will be simplified, and time and money will be saved. Knowing what you have on hand — and where to find it! — will eliminate unnecessary purchases in the future.
Is this a duplicate item? If the answer is yes, then ask if you really need duplicates of it or if you can make do with one (or two)
Is this something I use on a frequent basis? If yes, consider whether its current storage location is convenient when you need it
Is this something I’ve never used or worn? If yes, you probably won’t miss it so this would be a good candidate to donate
Have I worn this in the last year? If no, let it go!
Do I like this item or am I keeping it for sentimental reasons? If you are holding onto old wedding gifts you will never use because you feel bad letting them go, remember the person who gave them to you will never know you re-homed them
Decluttering provides many benefits, among them giving you more time in your day because when you’ve effectively decluttered your home, finding the items you are looking for becomes easier. Also, who wants to take the time to clean around knickknacks and other dust collectors? Knowing what you have on hand makes you less inclined to buy more of what you already own, helping you save money. You may also consider selling your more valuable items such as artwork or furniture pieces through a second hand site.
There are many non-profit organizations accepting donations for those in need. Some are even doing pickups from donors’ homes. A simple Google search should help you locate non-profits in your area.
Another option is to post them online on sites like Freecycle, Craigslist, OfferUp, Nextdoor and Facebook Marketplace. This can be a good idea for furniture and larger items that non-profit groups may not be able to easily transport. If you have valuable furnishings or antiques, you may consider bringing them to a local consignment store to be sold.
There are so many benefits to decluttering your home, and it feels wonderful to know that your discards are going to someone who will value them.
Tidying expert Marie Kondo said it best, “ The best way to find out what we really need is to get rid of what we don’t.”
Planned Companies continues to demonstrate its commitment to protecting its own team members during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, but it’s also giving back to support communities in need. Many who are in greatest need of PPE are challenged to obtain it. This potentially life-saving equipment is in short supply in many parts of the country.
On Friday, April 24, Planned Companies President and CEO Rob Francis presented donations of valuable protective masks to Atrium Post-Acute Care of Park Ridge and the New Jersey Veterans Home at Paramus.
Each facility received 2,000 masks.
Planned Companies has also launched an educational series designed to provide up-to-date and relevant information to help everyone through the current crisis. Click here for links to valuable resources or recorded webinars.