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A Sense of Community Within the Business Community Part 2

Mike Smith has this SOC report on the relationship between the United Way of the Ozarks and local businesses who are giving back to the community.


 For KSMU’s Sense of Community Series, I’m Mike Smith.  Today our series is focusing on civic engagement within the business community, and hundreds examples of that are within the relationships and partnerships between area businesses and The United Way of the Ozarks.

Jennifer Kennally is President and CEO of The United Way of the Ozarks:  “It’s very encouraging to us.  Hundreds of companies and thousand s of donors that have participated for years but also new donors who that have a heightened awareness of the need and are wanting to give for the first time.  The message is getting out there, and the business community is really stepping up.  It’s wonderful to see”.

Jennifer Kennally says the most recent example of businesses giving back in a United Way, was August 23rdwith the annual United Way of the Ozarks “Day of Caring” in which volunteers headed out into the community providing much needed hands on help to organizations, and in some cases, individuals in need.  “It was our 20thDay of Caring in this community, and it was our best ever. It was a record year, with 1,700 volunteers completing 300 projects with a value of over $250,000 in services to our agencies that day.  But what it does too, is mobilize s volunteers to get inside these agencies to see how vitally important the work is that they do.  So those volunteers go back to the workplace, and help work on United Way campaigns”.  Kenally says a United Way of the Ozarks campaign currently underway is called Live United 365, with area businesses playing a vital role.  “And they really do lead the charge, but it’s not just big companies, it’s small companies.  United Way isn’t just about a Fall campaign, it’s 365 days a year, and right now you have so much more awareness in the workplace about the needs in the community, especially for children and families.  We ‘re seeing a great response in how that’s going to affect our United Way campaign both in terms of dollars and recourse development , in terms of people and volunteering.  It’s a great thing to see right now in our community.  It’s a call to action, and people are responding”.

Among the hundreds of examples of businesses in the Ozarks whose sense of community runs deep, is found in the brick building on the SW corner of St. Louis and Hammons Parkway in Springfield.

 SOUND: Elevator voice announcing “2ndFloor”, and sound of receptionist typing and then answering phone “Good afternoon BKD, how may I help you”?...

John Wanamaker is Managing Partner of the accounting firm BKD. In 1999, to enhance and organize charitable giving by its partners and employees, the firm formed the BKD Foundation. “We have a lasting legacy by all of the partners that have come before us, to give back to the communities we reside  in.  Whatever our partners and employees give into the foundation through payroll deductions, that is our pool of funds we can give to charities here locally.  We only have about a $100,000 budget, and it’s not an endowment, so whatever comes in every year, that’s what we try to grant out”.

The list of local BKD Foundation grant recipients includes but is not limited to:  The Developmental Center of the Ozarks; care to learn; Habitat for Humanity; Boys and girls Club; and Springfield Public Schools for its Healthy Half-Pints and Cents of Pride programs.  In the economic downturn of 2009, when The United Way of the Ozarks was running short of its annual goal, the BKD Foundation came to the rescue with a check for $105,000.

John Wanamaker:  “ Since 1999 for southern Missouri, the BKD Foundation has given just under 1.2 million dollars back to the local communities.  In addition to the dollars, over the course of just this last year, BKD employees have logged over 3,800 public service hours in the local communities”.

Jennifer Kennally:  When you talk to people like John Wanamaker at BKD and you explain the need, they step up.  Like so many other businesses they target their recourses and their dollars to those programs in their communities that they know are making a big difference.  It’s being involved in the community and Living United 365 no matter what size organization you are, everybody can participate”.

For the Sense of Community Series on KSMU and ksmu.org, I’m Mike Smith.