Donald Fry: A culture of ‘giving back’ lives in Maryland’s business community

Posted by on in Blog
  • Font size: Larger Smaller
  • Hits: 6741
  • Subscribe to this entry
  • Print
  • Report this post
By Donald C. Fry

During the holiday season we all renew our appreciation for the value of giving – to our family, friends, colleagues, and to strangers in need.

But I hosted an event earlier this week that served to remind us about a huge reservoir of people who make it a part of their culture to engage, year-round, in selfless activities of giving. Where is this remarkable culture of giving to be found – in churches, synagogues fraternal organizations, retirement villages?

Yes to all of the above. But one of the largest sources of giving is the business community – the private-sector employees and managers who make community service a part of their business missions.

Last Tuesday, 15 businesses and nonprofits were honored by Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, the Greater Baltimore Committee and the Baltimore Development Corporation with 2010 Mayor’s Business Recognition Awards for outstanding community service. Much of it involved mentoring and tutoring young people in the city – helping them develop their minds and skills so they are in position to achieve success after graduation.

For instance, there’s the Baltimore architecture firm of Ayers Saint Gross, whose employees have volunteered for 13 years to conduct a six-week “Careers in Design” program for minority and disadvantaged youth at Beechfield Elementary/Middle School to pique student interest in becoming architects and designers.

Legg Mason employees participate in the Big Brothers and Big Sisters’ “Bigs in School” program at two city schools, having weekly lunches with students to provide adult support, boost school performance and enhance social skills. Employees of Legg Mason also recently started a workplace mentoring program for students at Patterson High School.

Then there’s The Maryland Chemical Company, which involved Baltimore City high school students in designing and installing environmentally sensitive landscaping at Fairfield Industrial Park.

These are just a few examples of the spirit of giving that exists – even in a recession – at businesses around the city and state.

Other winners of 2010 Mayor’s Business Recognition Awards were:

Aon Risk Solutions, for its positive civic involvement through volunteer projects that have included breakfast preparation at the Ronald McDonald House and building three Habitat for Humanity homes in West Baltimore.

Arc of Baltimore, for its commitment to job training needs of students with developmental disabilities in Baltimore City through Project SEARCH, a unique internship program for high school students with developmental disabilities who are nearing graduation.

Bank of America, for its commitment to help 60 unemployed men at Christopher Place through personal and professional mentoring and a business clothing drive.

Floura Teeter Landscape Architects, for its “10 Years/10 Causes” campaign, an innovative commemoration of its 10th anniversary that offered a minimum of ten hours of support or comparable monetary contribution to ten Baltimore-area nonprofits, including Baltimore Green Map, the Community Mediation Program, and the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay.

Gross, Mendelsohn & Associates, for providing 33 employees who volunteered for a labor-intensive beautification project in the Sandtown/Winchester community that included clean up and landscaping, despite a heat wave reaching 100 degrees.

I.W.I.F., for its many community outreach programs, including volunteer service to the Franciscan Center and for providing supplies and equipment to the Believe in Tomorrow Children's House, My Sister's Place Lodge, the Bea Gaddy Family Center, and the Ronald McDonald House.

M&T Bank, for its support of Baltimore youth through its mentoring partnership with Crossroads School and its “Bigs in School” participation at St. Ignatius Loyola, through which more than 60 students have benefitted.

Monumental Life Insurance Company, for its 11-year partnership with Merganthaler High School, which has benefitted more than 100 students with workplace mentoring, computers, and scholarships.

Respira Medical, Inc., for partnering with Centro de la Comunidad and helping Latino immigrants overcome barriers and integrate into the American culture.

Reznick Group, for its wide ranging-commitment to charitable and community service activities. More than 150 employees have volunteered for organizations including the Women's Housing Coalition, Habitat for Humanity, Junior Achievement, the American Red Cross, and the Baltimore City Public Schools' Office of Homeless Student Services.

SunTrust Bank, for teaching financial skills to more than 800 young adults through its partnership with Operation Hope, which seeks to eradicate poverty via financial literacy education and mentoring.

WBAL-TV, for its financial, volunteer, and media support for St. Vincent de Paul's Empty Bowls campaign and Camp St. Vincent., which helped heighten awareness and significantly increase donations.

These award winners serve to represent a culture of community service that percolates in thousands of workplaces throughout the state.

“We’re motivated by our gratitude,” says Aaron Teeter, vice president of Floura Teeter Landscape Architects. “Serving the community that has fostered our business success is the best way to express our appreciation.”

“We believe that our success is closely tied to the success of the communities we serve,” says Woody Collins, president and COO of M&T Bank’s Mid-Atlantic division, whose employees volunteer support for more than 500 organizations in the region.

Businesses that encourage and nurture employee community service are a major source of the almost 200 million hours that volunteers provide annually to thousands of causes in Maryland.

Despite having to deal with the challenges of the current recession, and the business downturn that comes with it, a dedication to community service remains alive and well in Maryland’s corporate and small-business communities.

Donald C. Fry is president and CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee. He is a regular contributor to Center Maryland.

Previous Center Maryland columns by Donald C. Fry:

Budget challenges will test government’s capacity for strategic planning

Facing the disconnect over the concept of ‘business climate’

Tax commission delivers refreshing change of pace

‘Reform’ commission to mull tax increase for Maryland corporations

No tsunami in Maryland, but voters deliver ripple of transition

Why isn’t transportation infrastructure crisis on lawmakers’ radar?

Market expert tells a pre-Halloween scary story

Entrepreneurs provide inspiration in a recession

Military is driving Maryland’s anticipated biggest economic spurt in 60 years

MedImmune CEO frames bright future for bioscience

Making transportation a top-tier priority

Primary voters in a mood for transition

Reading Maryland's fiscal tea leaves

Getting beyond sound bites and bumper stickers

Biotech tax credit more popular than ever, but the ‘rock-concert’ lines are gone

Bad timing for upcoming business tax report

For economic indicators, the ‘whipsaw’ effect continues

Do census data foretell a Baltimore city population rebound?

Remember the value of business after the election

New report ranks Baltimore among stronger regions to weather the recession

New living wage proposal: wrong idea, wrong time for Baltimore

Northeast needs more attention from federal rail planners

New national report has familiar ring for Maryland bioscience advocates

New report underscores Maryland’s work force development challenges

State’s health initiative: a ‘win-win’ for employers and their workforces

As Baltimore hikes taxes, are state’s counties next?

After the ‘fiber from heaven’ scramble, what’s next?

BRAC growth no longer a future event – it’s happening now

Economic development is a contact sport

Despite the recession, bioscience growth still percolates in Baltimore

State stumbles in enacting new education collective bargaining process

Wind power has potential in Maryland, but solar emerges as early renewable option

It's not good to be clueless in cyberspace

Amid fiscal shuffle, Maryland lawmakers pass measures to spur business growth

Thankfully, Baltimore leads with substance over style in luring Google

Leave damaging transportation provisions out of the budget

Amended budget continues recession-induced fund shifts and stimulus rescue

General Assembly setting stage for combined reporting push in 2011

Wrong timing for proposal to change Baltimore City school board

Baltimore City isn’t alone in facing pension funding challenges

A government investment program that delivers

Proposed transportation fund raid -- a bad habit continues

Where's the outrage over crime?

Small business is where innovation lives
Rate this blog entry:

Donald C. Fry has been the president and CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee (GBC), the central Maryland region's most prominent organization of business and civic leaders, since November 2002.

Under Don’s leadership, the GBC is recognized as a knowledgeable and highly credible business voice in the Baltimore region, Annapolis and Washington, D.C. on policy issues and competitive challenges facing Maryland. Its mission is to apply private-sector leadership to strengthening the business climate and quality of life in the region and state.

Fry served as GBC executive vice president from 1999 to 2002. From 1980 to 1999 Fry was engaged in a private law practice in Harford County. During this time he also served in the Maryland General Assembly. He is one of only a handful of legislators to have served on each of the major budget committees of the General Assembly.

Serving in the Senate of Maryland from 1997 to 1998, Fry was a member of the Budget and Taxation Committee. As a member of the House of Delegates from 1991 to 1997 Fry served on the Ways and Means Committee and on the Appropriations Committee.

Fry is a 1979 graduate of the University of Baltimore School of Law. He earned a B.S. in political science from Frostburg State College.