As we speak with professionals across North America, SIMA and Snow Business have always been inspired not only by their business acumen, but also the quality of their character. We believe that the true value of a snow & ice professional includes serving the communities in which he or she operates or volunteering for causes that are close to their heart. Read the stories and watch videos of this year's community service initiative participants below.
Turning grief into hope: In honor of her mother, Stephanie Sauers-Boyd pours her heart and soul into raising money and awareness for cancer research
Pictured from left, Bernie Sauers, Stephanie Sauers-Boyd, Janice Sauers and Mike Sauers present a check to American Cancer Society staff partner Chris Porcelli for the money the team raised up until that point for the June 2013 event.
In 2000, Stephanie Sauers-Boyd was a middle school student - years away from becoming a certified snow professional and president of Dresher, PA-based Sauers Tree and Landscape Service Inc. It was also the year her mother, Janice, was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“At that time, the greatest help that I could be to our business and our family was to be there for my mom. I handled many of the household duties,” Sauers-Boyd recalls. “I think what really helped me understand how much I was needed was watching how my mom had taken care of my grandmother a few years before, when she was sick. I remembered how much my mom would do for her.”
Sauers-Boyd soon realized there was another way she could make a difference.
The American Cancer Society’s Eastern Montgomery County Relay for Life committee was ramping up and asked her to volunteer.
“My best friend’s mom was on the planning committee, as was one of our neighbors, Ellen Ainge. One night, Ellen knocked on the door with a white Relay for Life teddy bear and asked for my mom and me to become involved. Several of my friends rallied behind me that year to start a team.”
With Disney princess regalia and a castle-themed campsite, the team had a blast, even in the pouring rain, and was one of the top 10 fundraisers for the event. A deepening commitment
Janice’s cancer went into remission in 2005, but Sauers-Boyd continued to deepen her involvement with Eastern Montgomery County Relay for Life. By 2011, she was the chapter’s events and activities chair, in charge of making sure there was “something for everyone to do” during the 24-hour event.
“I took on that role because, quite frankly, I was getting bored staying overnight,” she says. “It gets cold and gross at night, and a big challenge is getting everyone to stay for the entire 24 hours. That was a big year, but I recruited some good volunteers and was able to pass that torch the following year.”
She was asked to co-chair the 2012 event but was hesitant to take on the role because she and her husband, Jim, were undergoing fertility treatment, which is time-intensive and a physically and emotionally draining process.
“The committee knew that I was trying to get pregnant and I was hesitant to take the role, since it would automatically make me chair the following year, but of course they talked me into it,” she says, adding that by the June 2013 event she was six months pregnant with her son, James Bernard “JB” Boyd.
Sauers-Boyd says juggling her duties at Sauers Inc. with being chair/co-chair for Eastern Montgomery County Relay for Life wasn’t easy during those two years, but she says, “It helped give me another thing to focus on besides work and getting pregnant. Plus, our event committee is pretty tight - it’s like another family.” After a baby, a shift in roles
Since the 2013 event, Sauers-Boyd has assumed a smaller role as fundraising chair, responsible for setting up event-wide fundraisers and helping teams set up events throughout the year.
Luckily, event planning is right up Sauers-Boyd’s alley - pun intended, since one of the company’s recent fundraisers was the Fifth Annual Strike out Cancer event. This year, 171 participants bowled for dollars at the Brunswick Zone in Feasterville, PA. They raised $11,256, a quantum leap from the 48 participants and $800 raised at the first event in 2010.
“Much of the growth is made possible through the support of our professional relationships. Many of our employees attend the event, several bring their families, and many of our subcontractors and vendors help out by becoming event sponsors,” she explains. “Our local community is also a huge help, since our raffle basket table carries about $2,500 worth of goods in giveaways.”
The event takes up 30 of Brunswick Zone’s 48 lanes, Sauers-Boyd notes, and for 2015 her goal is to fill at least 10 more.
“My ultimate goal will be to fill the entire bowling alley, which would be about 300 participants,” she adds. Giving back all year
Sauers Inc. donates $1 of every invoice to Eastern Montgomery County Relay for Life, which added up to $2,000 in 2013. The company also donates $50 gift cards to all survivors at the Eastern Montgomery County Relay for Life event. Spreading good cheer
During her tenure as chair, Sauers-Boyd started the tradition of organizing a group volunteer night at Hope Lodge in Cheltenham, PA, where cancer patients can stay for free while receiving treatment in the Philadelphia region.
“There is a community pantry and kitchen in the facility, but often the patients and their caregivers do not want to cook after returning home from a treatment,” she says. “I had been to the facility once before for a tour and was really moved by it. So I recommended that some of my committee members and participants rally together and cook dinner one night. We had a blast. It was a lot of work, but we enjoyed it.”
Eastern Montgomery County Relay for Life now coordinates regular dinners and light recreational activities and collects donations to help stock the community pantry. Sauers-Boyd says she plans to take a group of employees to volunteer this year.
Sauers Inc. also donates tree services to local sports fields, schools and parks, and sponsors small community fundraisers throughout the year. But the Eastern Montgomery County Relay for Life will always hold a special place in Sauers-Boyd’s heart.
Many hands, light work: Lawn Butler tackles projects that matter to clients, employees
Lawn Butler team members, clients and suppliers volunteer each year for a specific project. In 2011, Lawn Butler built a dog park with agility equipment (left) and in 2012 helped beautify the veterans’ nursing home in Salt Lake City.
Lawn Butler owner Rudy Larsen has created a company culture that blends hard work and compassion for all. Since 2010, the company has focused on sharing those two traits with the greater Salt Lake City community with a yearly service project.
Lawn Butler sits on a BOMA Utah committee that seeks input from customers, employees and vendors on the types of projects they should undertake and then spearheads the project.
“Everyone has different causes that they are passionate about. We take everyone’s input and collectively vote on the project we choose,” Larsen says.
Over the last five years, Larsen says customers, vendors, BOMA Utah and Lawn Butler team members have donated more than $150,000 in cash, materials and labor for projects. 2014 – Layton Elementary School
This project included the installation of a water feature, property improvements, and the donation of books to a school that serves students from low-income families. The project involved $32,000 in cash, materials and labor.
2013 – YWCA
The team partnered with the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) to help raise $13,000 in cash and $20,000 in professional labor and products to create a beautiful and safe landscape environment for the facility.
2012 – Veterans Affairs
Lawn Butler took on two projects in 2012 to honor those who have served in the armed forces. Approximately $70,000 was raised to remodel a home and help pay medical expenses for a soldier who had been shot in the head while serving in Afghanistan, and to install a walkway, waterfall and gazebo at the veterans’ nursing home in Salt Lake City.
2011 – Davis County Animal Shelter
Team members built a $26,000 enclosed park with agility and exercise equipment so dogs can play outside while they await adoption.
2010 – The Road Home (Palmer Court)
Lawn Butler’s team contributed to a $52,000 Peace Garden landscaping project at The Road Home’s Palmer Court, where people who have become homeless can live until they get back on their feet. Lawn Butler’s portion of the project included installing a paver pathway, new sod, plantings and benches.
Larsen says, “We don’t tell our people they have to participate in these projects, but I am amazed every year how many people come out and donate their time and their knowledge to the projects.” Watch a video interview with Lawn Butler
A park for all to enjoy: Eric Brand, his family and a leadership group have worked tire-lessly to make an all-accessible playground in their community a reality
An example of an ADA-accessible playground, with ramps, double slides and other features to enable everyone to have fun.
Eric Brand is a leader in many ways. He’s led P&L Landscaping in Merrimack, NH, since 1989, after taking over “eight lawns and a push mower” from his older brother when the latter went off to college. He was the third person in the state to receive the Certified Snow Professional designation. He’s been involved in the Leadership Greater Nashua (LGN) program for four years. He also has led the charge to create a playground in a local park that would be accessible to all, including those with disabilities.
The idea to create an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-accessible playground in Nashua originated during Brand’s LGN experience. LGN is an initiative of the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce and consists of a yearlong course for individuals who show promise in making a difference in their community. As part of their involvement, each LGN class is required to complete a community project that will enhance life in Nashua.
While exploring potential projects, Brand learned of a request made by a Nashua youth for a playground where she and other children with special needs could play as equals with other children. Eric shared that there were no playgrounds locally where children like his son Tanner, who has multiple disabilities and uses a wheelchair, could play.
The LGN Class of 2012 liked the idea of having a place where people of all ages with physical, developmental and/or emotional disabilities could enjoy the environment alongside other families. They voted Brand project manager and began work in December 2011.
“We envisioned it for several different sensory scenarios - vision, sensory, mobility, and inclusiveness for autism,” Brand says. “Not only for children with disabilities, but for aging adults, veterans with disability, anyone, really. Play is just such a lifelong learning skill.” Site selection proves problematic
One of the first steps for what has become known as the Legacy Playground was to select a site. And of all the local parks, the perfect one - the one with accessible restrooms, a good location, a need to replace an old, rusty playground - was the one most fraught with obstacles: Greeley Park is the only Nashua park that requires permission from the Board of Aldermen on which to build.
“Greeley Park was farmland that was bequeathed to the city for either an institution or park. Some people want to just leave it as wide open space; others believe it was meant for enjoyment and recreation,” Brand explains. “Twenty years ago, the city enacted a moratorium on future growth in Greeley Park, because things were going haphazard.”
While the ADA requires any new playground built in the U.S. to be accessible, it grandfathers in existing playgrounds that undergo renovation. And that’s where the conflict lies: Modifications such as double slides (so someone can slide with a person with disabilities); a built-in slope so those with mobility issues can get to the top of the slide; a wheelchair-accessible merry-go-round; artificial turf; poured-in-place rubber; a 12,000-sq.-ft. picnic area and more would take up a lot of space - and thus takes away some of the open nature of the park. While few dispute the decades-old existing playground is in need of major repair, there was a movement among some to remove it completely.
Had the group chosen another park, the playground “could have been done a year and a half ago,” Brand points out. “But we wanted it in the best location we could find.”
Brand and a dedicated team of volunteers refused to give up on the project.
“During one of the evening meetings, my wife and our 17-year-old daughter testified to the benefits this playground could bring the community,” he continues. “To have my daughter come and talk was her own idea. She wasn’t pushed by mom and dad, so that was a really proud moment.”
This fall, approximately four designs and 40 city meetings later - the Legacy Playground received the go-ahead and construction is expected to start by mid-2015. More than half of the $250,000 budget has been pledged or donated. Brand’s group will fund the installation of the playground equipment and underlayment materials.
“There’s a lot that will have to go into making this a success,” Brand says, noting that while the leadership class has long been over, approximately half of his classmates are still involved: “Everyone has been able to use their profession and expertise to help in one form or another.” Support keeps Brand going
Trying to balance what has become nearly an all-consuming project with the duties of business and family has been challenging, Brand admits, but has been made possible through the support of a core group of LGN 2012 class members, his family and staff.
“My entire staff has been supportive and able to handle things without my presence. And while I am the public face of this project, there are committed, hardworking people from our LGN class who have never stopped fundraising, advocating, attending meetings and more. These people have full-time jobs and families, too, but they keep at it and we make a pretty great team.” Watch a video interview with P & L Landscaping LLC
If you or someone you know is a community champion, we’d love to hear your story. Email your contact information and information about the charities you support to Editor in Chief Cheryl Higley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks to The BOSS for sponsoring this year’s Community Service Initiative spotlight.