By Deanna C. White
On September 23, fourteen members of the Richmond office of Witt Mares pushed aside their spreadsheets to spend the entire day volunteering at Maymont, a 100-acre historical estate. As part of the 2011 CPA Day of Service, they provided outdoor landscaping assistance, which included tending Maymont's Japanese Zen Garden, pruning bushes, and removing weeds.
Witt Mares has a long history of public service and has participated in each of the Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants' (VSCPA) CPA Day of Service events. Michael Straus, CPA and a Will Mares partner, said",For me, the real reward is just knowing I give back to the community. Contributing to such a meaningful mission, even in a small way, is a really powerful experience and one that I know none of us will soon forget."
But the fact that the event creates a legacy of volunteerism, Straus said, is equally important. "The CPA Day of Service teaches our younger staff – many of whom have never done things like this – about the importance of giving back. The camaraderie while volunteering with their coworkers really reinforces that message."
Straus and his team were just a few of the more than 2,700 public accountants from CPA societies across the country to volunteer for the CPA Day of Service. CPA societies in Virginia, Indiana, and Illinois provided the impetus for firms and individuals nationwide to take part.
The VSCPA, which sponsored its first CPA Day of Service in 2008, saw increased participation this year. Approximately 700 volunteers turned out, 100 more than last year, to help local organizations, including Habitat for Humanity, the Boys & Girls Club of Northern Shenandoah Valley, and the Ronald McDonald House.
Andrea L. Casey, Firm Administrator with Mitchell, Wiggins and Company LLP, a public accounting firm in Richmond, said her company has been on the CPA Day of Service bandwagon since its inception. This year they helped Habitat for Humanity and a local food bank. But just as important, she said, the event also gave them the chance to bond as a team.
Representatives from the Indiana CPA Society (INCPAS) said participation this year nearly doubled, from 400 in 2010 to 950 in 2011. Volunteers donated their time at local cancer centers, child-care centers, food banks, and other organizations. This is the ninth year the INCPAS has sponsored the CPA Day of Service.
Officials from the Illinois CPA Society (ICPAS) said more than 1,110 volunteers served 160 organizations throughout Illinois during this year's event, the second in the organization's history. Participants volunteered at the American Red Cross, PAWS Animal Shelter, and at parks and forest preserves throughout the state. They also assisted foster parents with financial management skills and tutored at a Chicago-area children's hospital.
Jason Parish, CPA and Tax Manager of Blackman Kallick in Chicago, was part of the twelve-member team from the ICPAS' young professionals group that volunteered at the PAWS Animal Shelter. He said",The work wasn't strenuous – volunteers were asked to do things as simple as play with the animals and pet them – but those actions are invaluable for animals that need to develop the skills to be 'adoption ready.' Knowing we spent time with the animals to help them become more adoptable was very rewarding. And, it was great to get together with peers and do something for the community."