Seattle firm serves up volunteer opportunities, embraces non-profit community

With 250 non-profit clients, it is not surprising that giving back to the community is part of a firm-wide mindset at Peterson Sullivan PLLC in Seattle. The philosophy comes from the top with much of the firm's work for the Puget Sound non-profit world being performed at very competitive or significantly reduced rates.

The firm encourages employees to volunteer their time, whether they are serving on a board of directors or serving food at Guest Chef Night for Farestart, an innovative job training and placement program for homeless and disadvantaged individuals. Farestart's Guest Chef Night is held weekly at Seattle's Farestart Restaurant. The evening features a different guest chef who works with Farestart students to prepare a three-course meal for some 200 guests. More than 20 Peterson Sullivan employees volunteered to help.

"Everyone had a blast, worked hard, ate well, and felt good about it," said Peterson Sullivan Director of Marketing Molly Dore. "They were generally ecstatic about the event, asking immediately to get back on the calendar to do it all over again."

At $24.95 a dinner, Guest Chef Night is considered one of the city's best culinary values and reservations are often necessary. To date, the weekly event has raised more than $1.5 million for Farestart with 100 percent of the proceeds going back into the program.

Peterson Sullivan rewards employees who volunteer. Staff members can record the time they spend on such efforts to qualify for quarterly drawings for prizes. And the firm enjoys bragging about their efforts by spotlighting volunteer activities in internal communications and on the intranet. Provisions can be made for staff to do certain volunteer work and to be paid for that work during office hours.

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