2017 Invest in Others Awards Winners and Finalists
This year’s winners and finalists for the Invest in Others Awards actively worked to make a difference across a spectrum of causes. The advisors spent an average of 37 hours per month volunteering and together helped 1 million people annually. The companies, ranging from small advisory firms to large financial institutions, offered a variety of successful programs that creatively incentivize and encourage employees to give back, including generous matching gift programs and volunteer time off.
In 2013, Jody D’Agostini founded Community in Crisis following the overdose deaths of two young adults in her community. Both were long-time friends of her college-aged daughter, who tearfully asked her mother, “how many more have to die before someone will do something?” This moment served as Jody’s call to arms — she knew she had to take action against the heroin/opiate epidemic that was killing record numbers of 18-30 year olds, both in New Jersey and more broadly across the United States.
Tom Reilly has had a transformative influence on Crossroads since he joined the Board of Trustees in 1993. Over Tom’s 24 years of service, he has helped transform Crossroads from an organization offering summer camp experiences into a high-quality, multi-year youth development program that serves at-risk youth. Its outcomes are impressive – 95% of program graduates are accepted to college and 78% of them are first generation college students.
Inspired by a mission trip to Niger, Africa in 2001, Michael Thaler founded Effective Ministries Inc. (EMI) to improve the physical and spiritual lives of Nigeriens through five focus areas: health, water, orphans, education and micro-business. Since 2003, the organization has completed nearly 700 projects, including building two orphanages, and conducted 96 mission trips with over 1,000 volunteers to make a significant impact on numerous communities in Niger.
In 2008, Bill Sparks and his wife, Sarah, began volunteering at their children’s elementary school in Encinitas, Calif. They quickly realized the disparities in access to extracurricular and enrichment activities, especially amongst the Hispanic and low-income populations that attended the school. Bill started Los Angelitos de Encinitas, Inc. to provide access to more opportunities for low-income children in the Encinitas community through youth sports, after school care, and academic assistance programs.
In 2003, Mark Anselmo’s son, Nicholas, was diagnosed with a disorder that wasn’t very prevalent at the time – autism. After searching for support without much success, Mark and his wife decided to create a non-profit, Our Nicholas Foundation, to help other families in need. Our Nicholas Foundation promotes acceptance, builds awareness, and develops understanding and opportunity for the autistic community through resource fairs, support groups, sensory friendly movie nights and afterschool programming.
Corporate Philanthropy Award – Financial Institutions
In addition to Commonwealth Cares, which provides contributions of time, talent, and financial support to a wide range of charitable efforts, Commonwealth runs upwards of 40 philanthropic programs a year. Chemo Caps for Kids is a grassroots effort that began in 2009 when an employee’s son was diagnosed with a brain tumor and underwent treatment (he has since fully recovered!). Employees across all departments and business units meet weekly at lunch to knit caps to donate to pediatric cancer patients. Efforts have even spread to advisors, families, and friends. More than 4,200 hats have been donated to 16 hospitals nationwide.
Corporate Philanthropy Award – Advisory Firms
A cornerstone of Sentinel’s mission is “We Care About How We Can Help,” which extends beyond financial advice and is a central part of the company’s culture of giving back. Based in Wakefield, Mass., Sentinel runs numerous volunteer programs each year. In 2016, the company added a new spin to its food drive for a local food pantry – competition. Employees formed teams and a point system was assigned to the items they collected. Employees cleared the shelves at local supermarkets to collect over 2,000 pounds of food, which was roughly 16 pounds of food per employee.