CPAs Foster Selfless Service
By Deanna C. White
On Friday, September 21, Della Kirkman, CPA, headed out in the morning sunshine for another day at work as owner of Perkins and Kirkman CPAs in New Haven, Indiana – just as she would on any given Friday.
But that Friday was anything but a typical day at the office.
Instead, Kirkman, accompanied by her two daughters, traveled to the Dare to Dream Youth Ranch in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The ranch is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to rescue and rehabilitate abused and neglected horses and then train them to work with children. Interacting and caring for the horses generates both physical and emotional growth in the children.
The Kirkman family groomed and fed the horses, filled their haysacks, painted the paddock fence, and generally "spruced up" the property in preparation for an upcoming Dare to Dream charity event – all thanks to the Indiana CPA Society's (INCPAS) tenth annual CPA Day of Service.
"I think we all felt really good about being able to help the horses, to do something really positive for an innocent creature that's been abused," Kirkman said. "The Day of Service gave me the opportunity to give back to the community and incorporate my children as well. It was a chance to model the spirit of volunteerism for them."
Start Your Own CPA Day of Service
The INCPAS, which has hosted ten Day of Service events since 2003, offers the following tips to any CPA society considering starting its own Day of Service campaign:
- Let members choose where to volunteer. It is less complicated than matching volunteers to locations and it lets CPAs choose a organization/project they are passionate about.
- Visit Day of Service locations and thank volunteers.
- Have someone take photos and videos to give to volunteers in recognition of their service and to help promote next year's event.
- Send press releases to each community announcing sites where people in the community can volunteer.
- Encourage students to partner with firms/companies and use the day as a networking opportunity.
- Set up an online registration form on your society's website.
Kirkman was just one of thousands of volunteers from CPA societies across the country who put down their iPads to do everything from tacking drywall for Habitat for Humanity, tutoring children at the Boys and Girls Club, and escorting WWII veterans to the World War II Memorial at the National Mall.
CPA societies in Illinois, Virginia, Indiana, and, for the first time, North Carolina, provided the impetus for firms and individuals nationwide to take part in this year's annual CPA Day of Service. Individual CPAs and firms chose their own service opportunity for an organization of their choice, while the state societies promoted the event through registration sites, T-shirts, buttons, and help with publicity.
Jamie Walker, CPA, of the Walker Consulting Group in Glen Allen, Virginia, and past chair of the Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants (VSCPA) was one of the key players in initiating Virginia's CPA Day of Service in 2009.
"Often, CPAs are pigeonholed as the treasurer of an organization," said Walker. "But they have so much depth and breadth about them; they have so much more to offer. It is very important as individuals and citizens to give back and for the CPA community to step out of what they would normally do."
This year, for example, 2,242 North Carolina CPAs and volunteers served at a variety of indoor and outdoor service projects. They helped Project Night Night assemble donation bags for homeless children in the greater Charlotte area, educated students who are about to transition to American schools on financial literacy, and planted community gardens to feed the homeless.
North Carolina Association of CPAs (NCACPA) Member Connections Committee Chair Kate Hinson, CPA, CGMA, said the idea to jump on the society's first Day of Service bandwagon started with one member. One big idea.
"As this member shared his thoughts, people got excited. They caught the vision. We did not want to lose the momentum that was growing throughout the state, so we decided 2012 was our year," Hinson said. "The state of North Carolina has been so good to those of us serving in the CPA profession here, so we were excited to give back to the people in our towns and communities in some small way."
Sarah Bruce, CPA, and staff accountant with Hutchins Allen & Company in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, and ten fellow volunteers from the NCACPA's Albemarle/Outer Banks chapter, joined forces with the Surfrider Foundation – an international organization dedicated to the protection of the oceans, waters, and beaches – to conduct a beach sweep on North Carolina's Outer Banks.
Bruce said the volunteers, including two daughters of a fellow CPA, spent the picture-perfect day plucking everything from cigarette butts, plastic food wrappers, six-pack rings, discarded building materials, and the occasional random shoe, off a mile-long stretch of beach and the surrounding streets.
"Our beautiful coast brings people to live here and tourists who come here year after year," Bruce said. "This was the perfect opportunity to beautify our community. It was definitely important to me to do something local. We are on the edge of the state here on the Outer Banks, and there is a very big push in this area to keep things local."
Bruce said she also appreciated the camaraderie the event generated among fellow volunteers.
"For me, it was just a great chance to join together with folks who are part of my profession and do something bigger than ourselves for a day," Bruce said. "I always wish I would do more. I always say I'm going to take an hour a day to do something selfless, but we all get busy and we all make excuses because life gets in the way. The Day of Service was a nice way to remind me to stop and say this is important. I need to do this."
For more information on projects conducted at this year's CPA Day of Service events visit:
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