Can accountants build it? Yes, they can! Helping Habitat in NC

When you think of accountants at work, images of calculators and sharpened pencils spring to mind. But employees at Cherry, Bekaert & Holland LLP traded in the tools of the trade for hammers and nails when they volunteered to help build a Habitat for Humanity house in Raleigh, NC.

"A lot of our staff members had participated in Habitat through their church or school but never through our firm," said Cherry, Bekaert & Holland Partner Sheila Ahler. "Some were old hands at Habitat building and knew to bring their own gloves and hat and water, lots of water."

The firm, which has 70 employees in its Raleigh office, has a charitable committee. Twice a month, staff members donate five dollars to the charity fund and wear jeans to the office. When nearby Meredith College got involved in building a Habitat house, Ahler, who is on the business advisory board of the College's Business School, said the firm was happy to be a corporate sponsor of the project. Then the request became more hands on.

"When it got up and running they started looking for volunteers," Ahler said.

The firm turned to its employees and made them a tempting offer - up to two full days of paid time off if you help build this house. The result was 20 people, from administrative to staff accountant to partner, volunteered anywhere from half a day to several days. They removed braces from walls, built out a porch roof with trusses, and cleaned up at the site of the three-bedroom home on the south side of downtown Raleigh.

Meredith College recognized the firm as a Gold Level sponsor upon completion of the house this month.

"It was really great team building for our staff and we gave back to our community," said Ahler, who spent time on the housing site. "The consensus of the staff was, 'When can we do that again?' It was a lot of fun."

As one of the largest regional CPA firms headquartered in the Southeast, Cherry, Bekaert & Holland's resource network stretches across six states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.

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