Rochester CPAs Raising Funds to Build Habitat Home

By Deanna C. White

Most people kicked off the New Year vowing to get fit or eat healthy. But members of the Young CPAs Committee of the Rochester Chapter of the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants (NYSSCPA) started off the year with a much more altruistic goal  they launched their 2013 campaign to raise $75,000 worth of building materials for a local Flower City Habitat for Humanity (FCHH) home.
 
The group has put out the call for all Rochester, New York–area public accountants and firms to join their fundraising efforts. The campaign kicked off January 5, when the Young CPAs Committee hosted a sand volleyball tournament that raised $1,200 toward their ultimate $75,000 goal.
 
The tournament is just one of the events the committee plans to host to in its efforts to build a FCHH home in Rochester by the fall of 2013. 
 
Matt Taylor, chair of the Rochester Chapter Young CPAs Committee, says the FCHH project is almost perfectly aligned with the four pillars of the committee's mission: community service, education and training, networking, and developing a connection with the Rochester business community.
 
To date, seven firms in the area have signed on to assist the committee's fundraising efforts over the next several months. Future events will include such events as bowl-a-thons, wear-jeans-to-work days, and the already popular competitive guest bartending stints between local CPA partners at Rochester-area pubs, Taylor said.
 
Taylor believes the firm's employees, along with matching funds from their firms, will be able to raise the money for building materials by fall to assist Rochester's FCHH program.
 
Awards will be given for the most funds raised by an individual fundraiser, public accounting firm (per participant), and sole proprietor.
 
According to the NYSSCPA, FCHH, working in conjunction with the City of Rochester, selects vacant lots upon which to build one-story homes. The homes are built over several days with support of hundreds of volunteers, the fundraisers, and the new-homeowner family members under trained supervision.
 
The homes are purchased by low-income families through a zero-interest, thirty-year mortgage that is often far more affordable than the units the families rented. Each family contributes 450 hours of sweat equity – half goes into building their own home and half into building other Habitat homes. Since 1976, the nonprofit, parent organization Habitat for Humanity has served more than 600,000 families in the United States and around the world, according to the NYSSCPA.
 
The campaign, Taylor said, is a true grassroots effort, "a power-of-the-people fundraiser," designed to benefit an organization in Rochester's own backyard. These grassroots efforts are particularly important today, Taylor said, in the changing economic landscape of Rochester.
 
"The days when charities in Rochester used to just go to major corporations and ask them to sponsor an entire project are long gone," Taylor said. "Flower City has worked with smaller organizations on niche fundraisers in the past in Rochester, and we thought this might just be a perfect way to put a lasso around Rochester's public accounting industry to contribute to one cause." 
 
FCHH has built over 200 homes since 1984 and has made a commitment to building in the JOSANA neighborhood, a low-income neighborhood within the city limits of Rochester, according to Deanna Varble, communications associate manager, Flower City Habitat for Humanity. 
 
"FCHH's commitment (in JOSANA) isn't about helping just one family. It's a commitment to an entire low-income neighborhood. By building 100 houses, together we can impact the whole community," said Varble. "The CPAs are adding to the larger ripple effect of change in Rochester."
 
Taylor says the FCHH fundraiser has already generated an enormous sense of excitement in the CPA community, as each firm contributes its own vision to reach the common goal – a goal that will allow a local family to open the door to their own new home.
 
And while Taylor says volunteers from the Rochester CPA community will undoubtedly turn out to help tack drywall and lay tile during the week of the build, they know full well how critical their fundraising efforts will be over the next few months.
 
"Finding the land to build the house on and finding the labor to build are the easy parts. The challenge is raising the funds," Taylor said.
 
To learn more, you can contact Taylor at (585) 381-7350. 
 
Representing more than 29,000 CPAs, the NYSSCPA was the first state accounting organization in the nation. Incorporated in 1897, the society is a not-for-profit organization that seeks to establish and maintain high standards of integrity, honor, and character among certified public accountants.
 
 

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