MEDIA SERVICES / SHREDTIME
Sometimes, if you really think about it, doing good in the community can dovetail exactly with what you do for a living, anyway. That was just one revelation that came to Robert Rippentrop’s crew at Media Services/Shredtime when he challenged them to be a company that gives back, launching a five-year partnership with Northland Meals on Wheels.
“Transportation,” Rippentrop said, “is a big arm of our company,” which specializes in records management and disposal for other organizations. After Media Services’ calls to nearby charities to see how it might assist their efforts, Meals on Wheels gladly welcomed the rare opportunity to engage a corporate-level volunteer.
“We deliver boxes,” said Rippentrop. “It fits well with us, because of instead of a box, we’re delivering a lunch.”
Each Thursday for five years, for anywhere from an hour to 90 minutes, someone from the management team, front office or transportation crews has helped feed at least a dozen senior citizens. “We have a schedule, and everybody gets to go four times a year,” Rippentrop said. “If they’re hourly, we keep them on the clock, so they get paid to do it, they get to use a company vehicle, and when it’s your turn, we’ll buy your lunch, too. They turn in a receipt for the lunch they bought.”
The simple rewards of that, he said, go far beyond the satisfaction of meeting someone’s lunch needs. “The folks we deliver to are always appreciative,” Rippentrop said, both for getting a meal and for having a chance to interact with someone else. “We get a lot out of it because we see the joy they get from it, plus, it’s a way to check on them. And it’s another way to feel you’re blessed to have what you have.”
But it goes even farther than that.
“One of the things it helps our team do is bond together,” Ribbentrop said, “and you feel good working with a company dedicated to doing this.”
Ellen Hoyt, director of Northland Meals on Wheels, said it was hard to list all the good things flowing from Media Services’ simple gesture. “They are so reliable, so dependable, it just makes my job so much easier knowing they will be here every Thursday,” she said. “And I know our clients appreciate what they do. They’ve been a tremendous help and a true blessing.”
Managing the wealth of people with substantial portfolios every day, Peter Mallouk knows true prosperity. And knowing that makes it all the more poignant, he says, to see true need. Driving that contrast home every year is the Thanksgiving meal delivery effort at Leawood-based Creative Planning, which last year bagged 250 meals for needy families and has its sights set on 1,000 families in 2011.
“We’re so used to working with millionaires, then we go and deliver food to what U.S. News and World Report said was one of the 10 worst neighborhoods in the country,” Mallouk said. “It’s almost shocking to see the discrepancy between our client base and what’s out there. You look there, vs. someone born in Johnson County, and you know what the likely outcome is going to be.”
Six years ago, Mallouk acquired a boutique firm that managed $30 million in assets, and since then has built it into a range of service providers that had nearly $1.2 billion under management last year. Much of that accumulated wealth was being directed toward philanthropic efforts.
“Over time, I learned a lot from our clients and their kind of giving,” Mallouk said. “I also saw benefits that giving has across a family, when kids see their parents giving. It’s generational, it’s attitudinal. But we’ve got clients with accumulated wealth who have reached a self-actualization mode, and they’re moving on to significance with it and finding meaning with it, more than just the accumulation of wealth itself.”
It’s good business, then, to support the causes that your clients support, and Creative Planning does that with contributions to as many as 50 separate causes. That accounts for about half the company’s giving, through tables at charitable events or outright contributions. “The other half,” says Mallouk, “is what we are really passionate about. As a firm, we’re partial to causes for getting people out of poverty or helping those in poverty.”
Because of his company’s mission, his 75 employees are in positions to affect the outcomes of giving, which can have a powerful impact, Mallouk noted. “Because we can help the client do all parts of it, the money and financial, and legal as well, the benefit of that for us is, we see the impact ourselves,” he said. “For us, it’s not a theoretical; we’re helping the gifting process the whole way through.”
Talk about branding: At Gail’s Harley-Davidson, the owner now goes by just Gail. No surname. With commitment like that, you can imagine how Gail feels about her company’s philanthropic efforts, especially those involving kids and animals.
“I’ve always had a soft spot there,” she says. “I was on the board of directors for Wayside Waifs back when they were in that little house. They do so much good. Then it evolved from the animals to the children, the children who really aren’t old enough to speak for themselves.”
So it starts with efforts like Putt for Mutts, combining her passion for riding with fund-raising for Wayside, and Coats for Kids, and the nearby Belton school district. But there are plenty of well-voiced beneficiaries, as well, including the University of Kansas Medical Center, American Cancer Society, the Community Blood Center, American Heart Association, the Arthritis Foundation, American Stroke Foundation …
In all, a formidable list for a company with fewer than 60 employees. Where did the spark for broad giving come from?
“I believe we’re all climbing this big ladder to success,” Gail says. “On our way up, we help other people up, and one of these days when I stumble—and I always stumble—I hope there are people there to catch me and hold me up.”
Gail’s is also known for the 9-11 Tribute Ride and Rally first organized in 2002, now an annual event that draws riders from across the two-state region. It starts with a party at the distributorship, with a live band, catered eats, an Army National Guard fly-over with Apache helicopters and more.
From such efforts she says, springs a feeling that others should tap into if they’re in a position to give. “I went through a couple of tough years when the economy went down and the interchange closed and it was nearly impossible to get to me, but that didn’t stop us from giving money,” Gail said. “I know there are people out there who think they don’t have much to give, but giving anything to some folks will be more than what they have right now.” But there are contributions more meaningful than her own, she insists: “People who give their time are giving a whole lot more than people like me. If you give your time, that’s huge. That’s something you cannot get back, something of yourself that you cannot replace.”