Successful businesses are defined by much more than their annual profits, the products they sell or the services they offer. Innovative business leaders understand their organizations have a unique opportunity through philanthropy to engage with the community, contribute to the greater good and create a culture of caring that resonates throughout everything that they do. This year’s Community Impact Award winners are doing just that. Through monetary donations, employee volunteering or creative acts of kindness, they’re leading teams and joining together to make a tangible difference in Coastal Virginia. We’re honored to highlight these businesses in our 4th Annual Community Impact Awards.
Bank of America
Number of Employees: 208,000+
What They Do: Bank of America provides people, companies and institutional investors the financial products and services they need to help achieve their financial goals and has a global presence that delivers its products, services and expertise locally.
How They Help: Through a combination of investment, philanthropy and volunteerism, Bank of America has a strong commitment to meet the needs of the regional market. From an investment standpoint, Bank of America has been a significant purchaser of historic, low-income housing and new market tax credits, which has spurred the creation, preservation and development of affordable housing, commercial development and public facilities.
Last year, the bank’s charitable foundation awarded a $500,000 grant to EVMS to support the expansion of its teaching facility. In recent years, they have partnered with the Peninsula Community Foundation, the Hampton Roads Community Foundation and the Southeast Community Foundation to sponsor the annual "Give Local 757” day of philanthropy, raising more than $3 million in support of area nonprofits.
For the past 15 years, Bank of America has recognized outstanding nonprofits through their Neighborhood Builder program. Through this initiative, the nonprofit receives a $200,000 grant as well as leadership training. The company also provides opportunities for high school juniors and seniors for an internship at a local nonprofit through its Student Leader program. Finally, Bank of America encourages their teammates to volunteer by providing up to two hours of paid time off per week.
To our company, community impact looks like: asking each member of our community the question: What would you like the power to do? For some, this may mean assisting in the purchase of their first house, financing their children’s education or planning for retirement. To a business owner, it may be financing the expansion of a company or providing a line of credit to purchase inventory. For a nonprofit director, it could involve stocking a warehouse, building affordable housing or teaching financial literacy.
800-432-1000 | BankOfAmerica.com
The Beauty Tree Spa
Number of Employees: 1 employee and 3 commissioned associates
What They Do: From therapeutic massage to organic skincare and natural nail care and more, everything offered at this spa utilizes the natural botanicals, herbs, flowers, minerals, waters and elements that originate from nature. The goal is to help clients embrace natural beauty and flourish in a place of healing and life enrichment.
How They Help: Beauty Tree regularly provides products and services to charity events with no questions asked. They have an in-house sponsorship program which goes to local charity as well. It's a hand-built, real tree called the Beauty Tree of Life in their reception area with 314 hand-cut glass leaves (the number of Pi because they believe we have infinite opportunities every day to live beautifully and make a difference—and because it is the minimum number of times a person needs to hear how beautiful and important they are before they believe it) that they ask patrons to sponsor for $5 per month per leaf.
In just five months, the spa has collected almost $300 for two local charities through Easy As Sunday Morning Yoga and other events. They have also given more than $1,000 of goods and services to a variety of silent and other auctions for a number of local charities.
For them, even small daily efforts count like collecting trash in the parking lot and surrounding sidewalk. Their facility was constructed using a majority of repurposed and salvaged items, and they offer all organic products and services.
To our company, community impact looks like: a challenge that we voluntarily take up daily. We know that true community impact must be purposeful, intentional and practiced routinely. We opened our doors with this daily commitment to making a difference and will continue that effort until we are no longer here.
757-226-9474 | TheBeautyTreeSpa.com
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Towne Realty
Number of Employees: 93
What They Do: For more than 35 years, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Towne Realty has provided a full range of real estate services, marketing the finest properties in Southeastern Virginia.
How They Help: For many years Virginia Beach-based Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Towne Realty has raised funds for a myriad of charities including Seton House, Sunshine Kids Foundation, Toys4Tots, United Way, Girls on the Run, Susan G. Komen for the Cure and more. In 2017, BHHS Towne Realty raised and gave over $40,000 to the Sunshine Kids. In 2018, they raised over $40,000 to award seven $5,000 scholarships to children that are active duty military service member dependents and continued that effort with two recent fundraising golf tournaments with the goal of increasing the number of scholarships to 10.
The scholarships are designed to offset the Defense Department’s recently instituted 16-year cap on the ability of service members to transfer their GI benefits to their dependents. “As a company that proudly supports our military service members, we are stepping up to the plate and asking you to join us,” notes the marketing materials for the fundraising events.
The company’s mission of creating “an environment that nurtures professional growth and success with the purpose of providing the highest level of service and the maximum rewards of achievement” is reflected not only in their work as real estate professionals but as active participants in the community they serve.
“Our efforts go way beyond the home sale to be sure we impact lives in Southeastern Virginia,” explains Barbara Wolcott, chairman and CEO. “Our approach and planning for fundraising and giving is a part of our annual plan. Our 400 agents and nearly 100 staff members are all involved in these efforts.”
To our company, community impact looks like: serving those that serve, live and work around us.
757-690-0439 | BHHSTowneRealty.com
Boyd’s Construction & Consulting
Number of Employees: 6
What They Do: Boyd’s Construction and Consulting is dedicated to leading the industry in improving family’s homes and quality of life with cleaner air.
How They Help: A family-centric business, the culture of Boyd’s Construction was designed to be a community-based organization that rebuilds communities from the inside out. Among several annual giving back initiatives, they accept community nominations for deserving families that need work done in their home, and the Boyd Construction team goes in and makes those repairs at no cost for the family.
The company also gives to community schools for programs that are not funded elsewhere. They donated $2,000 to Wilson High School for a mentorship program for first-generation, college-bound graduates. They surprised a cafeteria worker at a local high school with an appreciation basket worth $500 in gift cards and pampering items.
The Boyd team is creatively selected in part for their commitment to giving back to the community, says Owner Andrea Boyd. They brainstorm as a team and come up with solutions to community needs.
“The team gets joy sharing joy,” Boyd explains. “Giving back is the reason why we do what we do. The community is our customers, but more important, our homes. This is where we raise our families. We have to be the change we hope to see. What better way to inspire change, but just to get out there and roll up our sleeves?”
To our company, community impact looks like: solutions, whether it is giving a helping hand, or going a step above the norm.
757-321-0700 | BoydConstruction.com
Number of Employees: 215
What They Do: Damuth Trane is a Chesapeake-based professional energy services company that specializes in providing comfort solutions to clients through the sale of commercial HVAC equipment, building automation, parts, service and energy solutions.
How They Help: Damuth Trane has several corporate volunteer initiatives for their associates to participate in each year including the Hampton Roads St. Jude Spring Fling, Special Love’s Tidewater Family Weekend, the United Way of South Hampton Roads’ Day of Caring and the Volunteer Hampton Roads Family Volunteer Day.
A corporate partner of the United Way of South Hampton Roads, they hold an annual campaign for associates to pledge funds to the organization, including raising nearly $32,000 from paycheck pledges and personal giving in 2018. The company is a member of the Hampton Roads Corporate Volunteer Council and a trustee-level supporter of the Hampton Roads Chamber.
Damuth Trane is also committed to giving back to the community through charitable contributions. The company donates and/or sponsors several local community events each year which bring awareness and impact areas such as health, education, low-income and underserved communities, veterans, the environment and more.
In partnership with the Chesapeake Trane Parts Center, Damuth Trane has provided equipment donations to organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and Faith Works Coalition, as well as the local fire department and local schools.
“We are fortunate to be a thriving, growing business,” says President Clint Damuth. “Re-investing in our community is building on the principles set when we opened the doors in 1970.”
To our company, community impact looks like: using our organization’s funds, talents and gifts to enrich our region, as well as help where we have the talent, passion and ability to do so.
757-588-0200 | Damuth.com
Electronic Systems, Inc.
What They Do: Electronic Systems, Inc. (ESI), a Xerox company, delivers market-leading technology solutions, exceptional service and consulting expertise to businesses and organizations in Virginia Beach, Richmond, Roanoke and Chantilly and is one of the largest providers of customized, scalable, end-to-end information technology, document technology and professional service solutions in the Mid-Atlantic region.
How They Help: ESI gives back to the local community through internships, donations, mentorships, in-kind donations, fundraisers, special events and volunteer opportunities. ESI supports the efforts of its employees to give back through their time and talents to the community including up to eight hours of paid time off to volunteer at a qualifying organization. Employees have helped build houses with Habitat for Humanity, sorted and distributed food for the Foodbank, transported cancer patients to and from treatment through the American Cancer Society and volunteered at local schools and nonprofit special events. Additionally, ESI supports community organizations financially and through organizing events.
“Giving back to the community has been a core factor in ESI’s mission since it was founded,” says Marketing Operations Specialist Nina Dark. “Whether through paying employees to participate in volunteer efforts, organizing onsite charitable events or leading the charge in serving as a key sponsor in a community event, ESI recognizes the importance of setting the standard in excellence on both the business side and community side.”
Dark notes that ESI has given hundreds of thousands of dollars and/or hosted many events benefiting local community organizations, including but not limited to the American Red Cross, the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore, Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters, Special Olympics, Eggleston, ODU Educational Foundation, Young Life, Virginia Beach SPCA and YWCA.
ESI’s most recent American Red Cross blood drive registered 25 donors, collected 20 pints of blood and recruited six first-time donors helping to fill needed blood types. In April of 2019, ESI was a lead sponsor for YWCA’s Walk-A-Mile in Her Shoes event which raised money to help support shelters and provide services to victims of sexual violence.
To our company, community impact looks like: supporting, driving and providing a workplace where employees are not only encouraged but are expected to serve in a positive and impactful way as leaders in our community.
757-497-8000 | ESI.net
Elizur International Inc.
Number of Employees: 5
What They Do: Elizur International manufactures original glass ornaments, glass accents for home décor and reusable glass straws, HeartStraws, made with borosilicate glass, that are an eco-friendly alternative to single-use plastic straws that are harmful to the environment and marine wildlife. They offer quality products and services, including packaging and reproductions, for medium- to large-size retailers.
How They Help: After Hurricane Michael made landfall in fall 2018 leaving destruction with debris strewn across the beach, owner and CEO Kevin Ren wished to create a solution to the pollution. Ren and his sons started researching the amount of plastic waste in our oceans and its overall impact on the environment. “We want to clean up the mess on our planet and give back to the community we live in,” says Meredith Lettiere, director of business development. Following the storm, the Elizur staff and their families met at Sandbridge for a beach cleanup, which inspired the creation of the company’s HeartStraws made from the glass tubes they use for their ornament designs. In May, HeartStraws joined the Virginia Beach Hotel Association, providing greater advocacy for their use. The small team at Elizur also participated in Clean the Bay Day, while a pair of employees are part of the Sustainability Task Force for the Hotel Association.
As a manufacturer of glass décor, Elizur International is introducing a Patriotic Collection of glass ornaments. “In Virginia Beach, we are surrounded by the heroic men and women who are or have served in our military and the families who support them. They are our friends and neighbors,” says Lettiere.
“We wanted to give something back to them, even if just in a small way.” Fifteen percent of the proceeds from the Patriotic Collection will benefit the Navy Special Operations Foundation, a nonprofit supporting NSO personnel and their families.
To our company, community impact looks like: a legacy of caring and compassion we can pass on to the next generation.
757-648-8502 | ElizurInc.com
The Franklin Johnston Group
Number of Employees: 525
What They Do: An experienced multifamily management and development company, The Franklin Johnston Group's portfolio includes more than 100 communities and more than 18,000 units along the East Coast.
How They Help: TFJG coordinates Operation School Supplies, providing backpacks of school supplies for each child in TFJG’s communities. This was an initiative started by company founder Wendell Franklin in the ’80s that was carried over when TFJG was started. They also run a United Way campaign every summer and allow employees to make charitable payroll deductions throughout the year. During their last campaign, they raised more than $30,000 through payroll deductions and one-time checks.
They also participate in the annual United Way South Hampton Roads Day of Caring event and raise money for the JT Walk put on by The Virginia Gentlemen Foundation, with funds raised given to ALS research. Other charitable involvement includes community fundraising events for organizations such as the HER Foundation.
The company has a culture of employees that love to give back to their community, and they are encouraged to do so, receiving two paid volunteer days per year.
To our company, community impact looks like: a part of what we do. It is bringing people together to make a positive, sustainable change in others' lives. Giving back to the community and providing opportunities for our employees has been important to the company since it was founded and is something that will continue to be a part of who we are.
757-965-6200 | TheFranklinJohnstonGroup.com
iFLY Virginia Beach
Founded: 2015 (Virginia Beach location)
Number of Employees: 32
What They Do: iFLY is an indoor skydiving facility with a vertical wind tunnel where visitors can experience body flight while guided by an instructor. The wind tunnel with controlled air emulates a freefall from an airplane and provides an exhilarating sensation of flying.
How They Help: iFLY Virginia Beach has developed, donated and implemented two 13-week athletic programs where 24 fifth-grade students from Seatack Elementary School participate in indoor skydiving, known as “Seatack Soars.” The Seatack students are part of the Achievable Dream Academy, a program that provides additional opportunities for educational success and partners with community organizations that are devoted to the students’ welfare.
“Seatack Soars” aims to create both a challenge and present a reward with learning how to fly with body flight as students develop skills with confidence and are inspired to achieve. Students arrive by bus at iFLY each week and meet different guest speakers that discuss a variety of topics while the program gives guidance through mentorship. The students are fed and fly and return to Seatack after the session, giving them an after-school exercise during a time when parents are often away at work or otherwise not at home. The iFLY staff also routinely visits Seatack Elementary to talk further with the staff and students.
iFLY began developing the program over nine months beginning in 2016 to become an authorized after-school program with the City of Virginia Beach Public Schools and the Achievable Dream Academy. After three seasons, they will continue and plan to offer the program to students from Lynnhaven Middle School.
To our company, community impact looks like: proud and confident kids at high school graduation who otherwise may have had difficulty overcoming challenges in life and not finishing high school. This pride and confidence is learned through our program and will be with them for life. We will build lifelong relationships with these students.
757-754-4359 | IFlyVaBeach.com
Klett Consulting Group
Number of Employees: Approximately 50
What They Do: Klett Consulting Group is a professional services company that provides systems engineering, cybersecurity and program management. KCG is a trusted advisor to businesses, government organizations and institutions across a variety of sectors.
How They Help: Founded in Virginia Beach, Klett Consulting Group has focused on the growth and development of our region by placing an emphasis on developing technical and economic opportunities in the area. KCG is a service-disabled veteran-owned small business that hires retired military personnel and aids in military transitions in Coastal Virginia. Strong leadership has guided the company’s vision to make an impact in the community, particularly with Mark Klett, founder of the company. Klett represents the company and serves on the board of a number of regional organizations devoted to the region’s prosperity and quality of life.
“KCG knows the importance and impact that education has on the future of the local community,” says Sarah Blow, communications coordinator. KCG partnered with the Kempsville High School Entrepreneurship and Business Academy earlier this year to promote the company’s cybersecurity education initiative for schools in Virginia Beach while educating community members on cyber hygiene and cybersecurity. The company also sponsored the 2019 Kempsville Masonic Lodge’s Annual Bull Roast where profits support local student scholarships. Additionally, they offer internships to students to further their education, develop and enhance skills, meet new professionals and provide an opportunity to learn more about careers.
“KCG’s goal is to be an active member in the community and have a positive and memorable impact that lasts a lifetime,” explains Blow. This year, KCG donated $1,000 to the Chesapeake Bataan Death March memorial walk for World War II veterans to aid their effort to support veterans living in our area. Further, they’re dedicated in community outreach efforts by supporting Toys for Tots, Armed Services YMCA and the ziMS Foundation.
To our company, community impact looks like: partnering with our employees to contribute financially and through time to the organizations and charities that support their families and other families in the community…For KCG, we believe our company is most impactful to the community when it supports the values of love, innovation, health and opportunity.
757-721-5040 | KCG-Inc.net
Leebcor Services, LLC
Number of Employees: 67
What They Do: Leebcor Services, LLC is a full-service general contractor and design-build firm that specializes in the development and construction of commercial real estate. The company has designed and built a number of quality facilities that directly serve the military population of Coastal Virginia.
How They Help: With a close relationship with the military community, Leebcor Services’ vision is to help build a stronger military by providing world-class construction services. “Our rapidly growing company [has] made huge strides in establishing strong and lasting relationships within the military community locally as well as beyond,” says Kelly Compton, proposal and marketing coordinator for Leebcor Services.
The company maintains their mission to benefit the physical wellbeing of military personnel as well as promotes their cognitive wellbeing by giving back. Co-founder and CEO John Karafa, a service-disabled veteran and avid fisherman, sought to establish a strategic program that would continuously support the United Service Organizations (USO) and their mission to strengthen the connection between military service members and their families, home and country.
In 2017, the company established their Fishing for Our Troops initiative while partnering with local businesses, professional fishing groups and veterans. Throughout the year, Fishing for Our Troops events are held at military bases in the eastern and southeastern United States with a purpose to bring together and enrich the lives of veterans and active duty families through fishing. Attendees learn new skills and have an enjoyable experience with seminars and sessions out on the water with pro bass anglers. All proceeds from Fishing for Our Troops benefit USO.
To our company, community impact looks like: an ongoing and everlasting relationship; one in which all parties benefit.
757-561-2117 | LeebcorServices.com
One Hour Heating and Air Conditioning
Number of Employees: 77
What They Do: Family-owned One Hour Heating and Air Conditioning provides residential heating and air conditioning services throughout the Coastal Virginia region. The company places a strong emphasis on punctual and personable service, quality of work and professionalism.
How They Help: For One Hour Heating and Air Conditioning, giving back has gone back with the company since their establishment in 1979. They’ve donated at the American Red Cross blood drive, collected food for the Judeo-Christian Outreach Center and have partnered with Ferguson to donate products as well as time installing new heating and air conditioning units in multiple houses for Habitat for Humanity of South Hampton Roads. “Being able to provide the in-kind donation of our skilled technicians’ time to help local families who are receiving a new home is humbling,” remarks Lauren Smith, marketing coordinator.
For the past five years, One Hour has partnered with WTKR and sponsors for their annual Holiday Helpers toy drive. Their teammates volunteer to drive all over Coastal Virginia collecting toys from donation drop-off locations and deliver them to ForKids so they can be distributed to local families in need around the holidays. At the annual KindFest at Hunt Club Farm, One Hour’s “Donation Station” has gathered over $4,000 each of the past two years at the event for local nonprofits.
Earlier this decade, One Hour introduced their One Hour Cares initiative where during each quarter of the year the company donates $5,000 to a local organization in need of funding. To date, they’ve raised awareness for over 200 area organizations and have donated more than $100,000 to over 50 groups through the program. Each organization is nominated through OneHourCares.com and is selected through a voting and lottery-like drawing. They also partner with WTKR to feature these organizations on Coast Live as well as through radio shows and on social media with MaxMedia and Local Voice.
To our company, community impact looks like: people with a lot of heart. Money is great, but sometimes not as meaningful of a contribution. Our goal is to raise awareness for those who need it most in our community.
757-868-7600 | OneHourComfort.com
Number of Employees: 5,000 in 17 countries
What They Do: Throughout the past 20 years, PRA, through its subsidiaries, has grown to become one of the largest debt buyers in the world. They strive to deliver nonperforming loan solutions to clients and customers in a respectful, ethical way using data and analytics.
How They Help: PRA Group, headquartered in Norfolk, encourages volunteerism and helps employees maximize their involvement through the PRA Group Volunteers program, providing regular opportunities and paid time off for eligible employees. In the last six months, employees shared their skills and knowledge with their communities through more than 593 hours in the Coastal Virginia area. In 2018, the company accrued more than 2,280 hours of volunteer service. Each year, the employee with the most recorded volunteer hours is acknowledged and presented with the Volunteer of the Year award at the company’s annual awards banquet.
Nonprofit donations and sponsorships are an essential part of the company’s philanthropic initiatives. PRA Group adds strength and vitality to their communities through Corporate Contributions and the Employee Matching Gift Program. Corporate and employee giving spans nonprofit categories from health and human services to youth development, financial literacy and the arts. PRA has also been a top participant and contributor to the United Way. To make giving easy, the company implemented a portal which gives employees the ability to designate gifts to organizations that resonate most with them. This portal will continue to be used for future workplace giving campaigns. PRA has donated millions of dollars to various charities since its inception.
Company accolades include the Corporate Volunteer Excellence Award for Volunteer Hampton Roads, Roaring 20 Award for Business Excellence and Community Involvement from Inside Business and most recently, the Trailblazer Award from United Way.
To our company, community impact looks like: dedication, determination, selfless commitment, investment and to support community revitalization and resiliency.
800-772-1413 | PRAGroup.com
Security Storage & Van of Norfolk
Number of Employees: 85 in summer; 45 in winter
What They Do: Security Storage & Van of Norfolk is an Allied moving agent since 1930, with Aspinwall-Security joining them in 1968. Together, they are a full-service moving and storage company operating approximately 60 vehicles and offering specialized services such as international moving, fine arts relocation, document storage and management and more.
How They Help: Security Storage & Van has a truck wrapped for the Susan G. Komen nonprofit organization. They loan to the organization for event transport. They support the HER Shelter when it needs furniture for a family that is being relocated to a safe house. They have provided services to the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore as well as the Salvation Army when they need help with distribution or just extra labor during the holidays. They have supported the "Write Stuff," program through the Salvation Army that provides school supplies to needy children, for many years. They are currently members of the Virginia Beach Task Force on Aging and the Norfolk Task Force on Aging.
They have been trying to make an impact in our community for more than 105 years and appreciate how our community has supported their company. They use talents and position to encourage other people to serve the community by donating food or furniture, particularly when they are downsizing. Each employee is encouraged to give back to the community, even if it is only one hour a week.
To our company, community impact looks like: understanding the needs of the community by opening our eyes and ears. There is nothing more rewarding than the feeling you have when you know that you were a part of community service and helping others.
757-466-9000 | BigOrangeTruck.com
The Smiles Group
Number of Employees: 33
What They Do: The Smiles Group is a practice offering patients comprehensive dental services and treatments including orthodontics, pediatric dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, restorative dentistry, preventative care, implants and emergency dentistry. The office is equipped with the latest technology such as 3D imaging, same-day crowns and Veloscope oral cancer screenings.
How They Help: Dr. James Burden of The Smiles Group in Williamsburg is known for his extensive involvement in the community and has been giving back for more than 25 years. His contributions include a 9/11 walk and giving back to our local firefighters, police officers and first responders; ovarian cancer walk (contributions go to Olde Towne Medical Center); Dental Health Month at the local schools; James City Youth Football Camp; James City County Tri-Color Race (bike race); Breast Ball Charity Golf Tournament (Here For The Girls); Here For The Girls race; company-sponsored blood drive; school team sponsorships; The Shrimp Fest (Kiwanis); Bartenders for Babies Battle (March of Dimes); Signature Chefs Auction (March of Dimes); XM 99.1 The Drug Drive (opioid crisis); I Am Enough Retreat (abused women); Natasha’s House Fundraiser (abused women and children); Bacon Street Gala (youth programs); The Arc Gala and Sponsorship (programs for adult children with disabilities); The Avalon Events (abused women); Humane Society donations and fundraising events; DoG Street Strut (Humane Society); Trunk or Treats (WISC & Mathews YMCA); Latasha's House fundraisers and sponsors (abused women, human sex-trafficked victims); DAV donations; Helping Hands organization donations; White Marsh Mobile Homeless Shelter; Suit Case Program (donating Health Bags to the homeless); Williamsburg James City County Community Gala and sponsor (Head Start Program); PWN Power Summit (Empowering Women); Uncorked Here For The Girls fundraiser; Miles for Smiles Race (Burden’s race for Olde Towne Medical); PWN Women's Fundraising Events (scholarships for women); Hospice House donations; Purple Heart Veterans Golf Tournament; and Canstruction Food Drive.
To our company, community impact looks like: a smile!
757-229-1224 | SmilesOfWilliamsburg.com
What They Do: TowneBank offers a host of financial services from checking and savings to lending, mortgages and more. Whether business or personal, all services provided through TowneBank are backed by the company’s culture of caring and commitment to exceptional customer service.
How They Help: Since its conception in April 1999, TowneBank has honored its roots of volunteerism, leadership, fundraising and philanthropy and now boasts a cumulative total of $56.9 million raised for local charities and initiatives. Many of the bank’s community efforts fall under the bank’s Going to Towne program. “Going to Towne encompasses the many times that Towne employees reach out to their community to help in a variety of ways. The Going to Towne T-shirts are instantly recognizable wherever the Towne Family goes and the feeling of camaraderie is contagious,” says Vice President Meredith Elliott. “In 2018, more than 1,000 Towne family members donated 4,371 hours of service to organizations and events that were part of the bank’s corporate Going to Town initiative.”
Additional TowneBank efforts include building playgrounds with ROC Solid, participating in the annual JT Walk, volunteering during United Way’s Day of Caring and gathering more than 10,000 non-perishable food donations to the Fall Extravaganza Food Drive.
TowneBank’s outstanding community efforts are also rooted in the 18-year-old TowneBank Foundation founded in 2001. The Foundation hosts two signature events, a golf tournament and fall extravaganza, and is supported by a percentage of net profits from Towne’s board or directors. “The Foundation has provided charitable grants and donations to hundreds of nonprofit organizations throughout Hampton Roads, Richmond and North Carolina,” says Elliott. Chairman Bob Aston adds, “While some companies see charitable giving as a never-ending expense, Towne sees it as a never-ending investment. That’s part of the Towne difference.”
To our company, community impact looks like: a hometown culture of caring. When TowneBank first opened its doors in 1999, its goal was to be a great hometown bank that would enhance the quality of life in the communities the bank serves.
757-392-3400 | TowneBank.com
What They Do: USAA is a relationship company dedicated to serving military members by offering the best options for insurance, banking, investment and retirement. All USAA services are delivered to former and active duty members and their families with loyalty, honesty and integrity.
How They Help: USAA not only protects its members on the frontlines, overseas and at home, but strives to give back to its local communities as well. Aubrey Thomas, regional site director at USAA’s Chesapeake office, claims that nationally, the company’s leading cause for corporate citizenship is military resiliency. Of the hundreds of thousands of hours and millions of dollars USAA employees give each year, approximately 60% is donated to military-specific causes that support the company’s mission. Thomas states that USAA employees contributed over $10 million in charitable donations and more than 500,000 volunteer hours in 2018 alone.
Many of employees’ volunteer hours are completed during their two paid volunteer days. USAA implemented volunteer days in 2016 to help its workforce realize its passion for giving, a task that is often hard to achieve within the time constraints of work, family and the like. To further alleviate that challenge, the Chesapeake office also organizes periodic drop-in events. “Drop-in events are often combined with giving opportunities to create greater awareness and to provide employees with the opportunity to give in multiple ways,” explains Thomas. “Chesapeake events in 2018 included activities like creating handwritten thank you cards, making comfort stuffed animals for military children, laundry care packages for homeless veterans and Norfolk University students and [cooking] hundreds of meals for families in need.”
Among USAA’s other philanthropic efforts is The USAA Foundation, Inc. which invests in causes pertaining to education, natural disaster relief and homelessness support. Specific to the Chesapeake office is a Giving Campaign. “We host a Giving Campaign each year in which we invite nonprofits across Hampton Roads to visit our office and share their organization’s mission. During this season of giving, employees are provided an opportunity to make a charitable donation to their nonprofit of choice,” says Thomas.
To our company, community impact looks like: the embodiment of our core values. USAA encourages its employees to go beyond their job responsibilities and serve their communities.
800-531-8722 | USAA.com
Virginia Eye Consultants
What They Do: For over half a century, Virginia Eye Consultants has served as the region’s leading eyecare practice. The Hampton, Norfolk, Suffolk and Virginia Beach offices are home to recognized ophthalmologists specializing in advanced eye care treatments and surgeries for LASIK, cataracts, glaucoma and more.
How They Help: While Virginia Eye Consultants is a pioneer in ophthalmological surgeries, the local practice is also a leader in charitable efforts. Noticing a need for emergent eye care among local uninsured communities, Virginia Eye Consultants launched two charities, the Virginia Eye Foundation and Looking Forward…Giving Back, in 2005 and 2013 respectively. Both programs finance thousands of sight-saving surgeries and provide educational funding for aspiring healthcare professionals.
Tami Burke, director of marketing and public relations, illustrates the programs’ impact through the inspiring story of former patient Kenneth. “His cataracts were so dense that he couldn’t see well enough to do the things he loved [like] drive to the store, go on outings by himself or even take walks around the block with his grandchildren,” she says. “Looking Forward…Giving Back helped turn his life back around. He can see clearly and is once again living the quality of life he had before.”
For people like Kenneth, Burke reiterates that both charities have helped alleviate the highly unmet need for eye trauma care for patients lacking the necessary means for proper medical attention. “Giving back to our community has been a natural part of our business for decades,” says Burke. “In addition to our initiatives and [contributions to local causes like the Foundation Fighting Blindness, Western Tidewater Free Clinic and Lackey Free Clinic of Williamsburg to name a few], a demonstration of the number of years we have committed to giving back to Hampton Roads is our President Dr. John Sheppard. [He] was recently honored by EVMS for his 30 years of volunteer academic service to the institution.”
To our company, community impact looks like: independence and freedom. Through Looking Forward…Giving Back and the Virginia Eye Foundation, Virginia Eye Consultants provides hundreds of charitable eye procedures to uninsured people in the region to help them regain their independence through improved vision.
757-742-3902 | VirginiaEyeConsultants.com
Virginia Natural Gas
What They Do: Virginia Natural Gas delivers safe and reliable gas services to over 300,000 residential, commercial and industrial patrons in Virginia’s southeastern corridor. The natural gas provider not only promotes cost-effective and productive services, but environmentally sustainable options as well.
How They Help: For Virginia Natural Gas employees, volunteering is not a professional requirement, rather a personal mission. Nearly all 300 of Virginia Natural Gas personnel have participated in community events and volunteered both time and money to a number of organizations and foundations including the Boys & Girls Club of Newport News, the Virginia Peninsula Foodbank, ForKids, Virginia Beach Tragedy Fund, Elizabeth River Trail and the Salvation Army. In 2018 alone, the Virginia Beach-based company donated more that $389,000 to 43 local charities.
“We have long been a model for corporate citizenship in the areas of charitable giving, volunteerism, environmental stewardship and workforce development,” says Community Affairs Manager Kenneth Magee. “Each year, Virginia Natural Gas supports our community through charitable giving, organized fundraisers and volunteering our time with many charitable and community projects centered around improving the lives of those living across our service territory.”
One of the company’s most recent charitable acts includes their participation in Something in the Water festival. Virginia Natural Gas partnered with Seatack Elementary School to overhaul and expand its community garden. The gas provider also supplied recycling bins throughout the three-day event to keep the beaches clean.
“At Virginia Natural Gas, our commitment is to our customers and to social responsibility. Every decision we make as a company is focused on using our talents and resources to improve the community we serve,” says Magee.
To our company, community impact looks like: our employers being a force for good within the community we serve. Our employees live, socialize and volunteer within this region and we pride ourselves on finding ways to improve the quality of life for everyone who calls this home.
866-229-3578 | VirginiaNaturalGas.com
Warwick Mechanical Group
What They Do: Warwick Mechanical Group strives to be the leading mechanical systems provider to general contractors and end users in Virginia’s southeastern and central regions and North Carolina’s northeastern corridor. Warwick systems are designed specifically for commercial, industrial, mechanical and institutional facilities.
How They Help: The Newport News-based company has a longstanding tradition of philanthropy. Promoting the corporation’s charitable efforts is the Warwick Foundation, an internal program that helps connect employees with volunteer and fundraising opportunities with regional charities. Arguably the foundation’s most impactful partnerships are with the Virginia Peninsula Foodbank, Walk to End Alzheimer’s and St. Jude Research Hospital.
Executive Assistant Rhonda Noble notes that Foodbank donations have been a staple in the Warwick office, but recent competition with local construction group W.M. Jordan Company has led to a substantial increase in philanthropic efforts. “We started competing with W.M. Jordan Company in 2017 and we were able to increase our food and monetary donations [to over $8,000 and 15,000 pounds of food over the last three years],” says Noble.
Similar earnings were raised during the company’s participation in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, an initiative that hits close to home for CEO G. Royden Goodson III. “Alzheimer’s awareness is very near and dear to our hearts as our CEO’s wife was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s a few years ago. We also have several on our staff who have been personally affected by this terrible disease,” explains Noble. She further adds that Warwick’s involvement in last year’s walk was slated to raise $8,000 but grossed over $16,000 with the help of community partners.
What Warwick donates in time and money, the company also contributes in educational advancement. In addition to offering college internships, Warwick Mechanical Group partners with New Horizons Advanced Technical Careers Academy to enroll high school students into a five-year apprenticeship that offers full-time employment while completing classwork.
To our company, community impact looks like: bringing people together to support those in need. Whether it’s helping a charitable organization or kids graduating from high school that need to transition to employment, we are honored to be able to help.
757-599-6111 | WarwickMechanicalGroup.com
How were the businesses chosen?
Online nominations were held March 1–April 28 for businesses to share the philanthropic ways in which they give back. Using the information provided in those nominations, an editorial team determined the top 20 Community Impact winners based on their effect on the community through innovative work programs, employee volunteering and creative business models that promote the social health of the community.