Call to Service: State CPA Societies Spearhead Day of Volunteerism
by AccountingWEB on
By Deanna C. White
For Janice Seipp, CPA and chief financial officer of the residential property management company Remanco, Inc. in Glenview, Illinois, volunteering is just part of her DNA.
She routinely dedicates much of her free time to her local Catholic parish, St. Catherine Laboure in Glenview, Illinois, where she helps church workers with filing and clerical work, teaches religious education courses and serves as an inclusion representative - a volunteer who insures the church provides the most welcoming and accommodating environment for people with disabilities.
So it's no surprise that Seipp is just one of the many public accountants from CPA societies across the country who will put down their laptops and pick up everything from paintbrushes to shovels to aprons Friday, September 23, 2011, when they volunteer for the CPA Day of Service.
"When I was studying for my CPA review course the teachers really emphasized how important it was for people in our profession to give back to the local community," Seipp said. "It stuck with me. As accounting professionals we have so many different skills we can offer to people. The CPA Day of Service is a wonderful way to represent that."
CPA Societies in Illinois, Virginia, and Indiana are providing the impetus for firms and individuals nationwide to take part in the CPA Day of Service Friday, September 23, 2011. Individual CPAs and firms can choose their own service opportunity for an organization of their choice, while the state societies promote 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.
"I've always been a big believer in giving back to the place you live," Walker said. "The Day of Service is a way to get people to just stop what they are doing and come together to volunteer. It's a coordinated effort to allow people to do some good and bond with their co-workers at the same time."
And, Walker said, while some volunteers choose to put their financial skills to service for local organizations, the day is really meant to provide an opportunity for CPA's to "step out of their wheelhouse" and explore some completely new leadership skills.
This year, for example, more than 600 CPAs from across Virginia will volunteer at a variety of indoor and outdoor service projects. Some organizations with CPA volunteers include the Arlington Food Assistance Center, the Fredericksburg Baptist Church, and Junior Achievement in Richmond, Virginia.
"When CPA's volunteer they are typically drafted into financial things, like helping an organization with its budget, but I encourage people to do more," Walker said. "You can stretch yourself to be more than just a treasurer. You can pick something that truly helps you exercise your leadership skills."
Representatives from the Illinois CPA Society (ICPAS), who hosted their inaugural CPA Day of Service in 2010, said participation in the event has been incredibly enthusiastic and the list of diverse organizations local CPAs serve continues to grow.
According to ICPAS officials, more than 900 volunteers from 76 communities participated in the event in 2010. Nearly 700 volunteers have already registered to assist over 110 organizations at this year's event and numbers are steadily climbing.
This year ICPAS volunteers have pledged to serve the American Red Cross, volunteer at the PAWS Animal Shelter in Chicago, beautify parks and forest preserves throughout the state, assist foster parents with financial management skills and tutor at a Chicago-area children's hospital, among other activities.
"I think this is just a great way to give people the extra nudge to do something they may have already been thinking about doing," said Jill Wiles Wolf Manager of Public Service, for the ICPAS. "It really resonates with people to have the opportunity to volunteer with their colleagues as a team."
A sentiment Walker said he has experienced first-hand.
This year, Walker said volunteers from his firm started their service a little early by painting a new facility for a Junior Achievement program in Richmond, Virginia.
"There were 12 of us from my firm painting that day. We painted one wall green, one wall blue, one wall yellow…and I know at the end of the day we were all tired," Walker said. "But when we stepped back and saw what we had accomplished for those kids it was very exciting. We can't wait to go back and see what they'll be able to do with it."
For more information CPA Day of Service activities, or to register for a volunteer activity, visit:
- http://www.icpas.org/CPADayofService.htm 
- http://www.vscpa.com/Content/for_members/volunteer_opportunities/public_service/cpa_day_of_service/default.aspx 
- http://incpas.org/Member/volunteers/CPADayOfService.aspx 
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