4 ways to give back to your community this holiday season

give back to your community
Help us stock the pantry at St. Augustine Hunger Center on Nov. 23!

During the holidays, many of us reflect on the things we are grateful for, and how we can use our resources, time or skills to help those who are less fortunate. Whether you’re looking for a way to celebrate Giving Tuesday on Nov. 29, or want to give back to your community more often, below are just a few of the ways you can make a difference.

4 ways to give back to your community during the holidays

1. Food

According to Feeding America, nearly 2 million Ohio residents were food insecure in 2014, including more than 600,000 children. Each dollar donated to the Greater Cleveland Food Bank can provide four nutritious meals to someone struggling with hunger through over 800 different programs in six Northeast Ohio counties. Contact your regional food bank or local food pantry for information about making a donation or volunteering at a facility.

2. Clothing

Many agencies generate funds for programming and operational expenses by selling donated clothing items in thrift shops at prices accessible to low-income community members. This method of donating is helpful in the long-run, but there are a variety of options for donors who wish to make a more direct contribution.

According to Cleveland’s Community West Foundation, socks are “the item that’s most requested by anyone living outside.” Donate money or new socks to the Foundation’s SocksPLUS program, or contact a local shelter to find out which types of donations are accepted.

Operation Warm provides new winter coats to 300,000 children across the country each year, and Coats for Kids collects new and gently used coats of all sizes at these locations in the Greater Cleveland area.

Career Gear and Dress for Success help impoverished men and women achieve economic independence by distributing gently used professional attire for job interviews and empowering them during their transitions into the workforce.

3. Funding

No organization would turn down a qualifying material donation, but in many cases monetary donations are much more helpful. These types of gifts give agencies more flexibility and the option to direct the funds to the programming areas where they are most needed. The donation process is also more convenient for donors, who can simply mail a check, submit a donation online or set up recurring gifts.

Before donating to a cause, do your research and familiarize yourself with the organization to ensure your dollars will reach those you are trying to help. Many nonprofits post financial statements and annual reports on their websites. These documents often disclose information about the percentage of funds directed to programming. Learn more about reliable charity evaluation systems and how to detect charity scams.

4. Time

You don’t need money or material items to make a difference in your community. Many charities and nonprofits rely primarily on the work of volunteers to accomplish their missions.

Contact local organizations for information about current volunteer opportunities, or use sites like Volunteer Match and All for Good to find opportunities related to your interests.

Catchafire and Taproot+ allow community members to contribute at an organizational level through skill-based volunteering and pro bono work. Projects range from one-hour consulting calls to multi-month projects, and can involve marketing, web design, legal and financial expertise, and a variety of other professional skills.

Some of our firm’s favorite causes include Cleveland Clinic Children’s, The Gathering Place and St. Augustine Food Pantry.

How do you make a difference in your community? Tell us about your favorite charities and nonprofits in the comments!

Everything Earned Athletic Award Program Recognizes Local Teams

Elk & Elk launched the Everything Earned Athletic Award Program last fall.  The program recognized high school teams throughout Northeast Ohio who excel in their sport and in the classroom, and display a passion for making a difference in the community. Teams were nominated by their school’s athletic director, and each month a winner was selected to receive $1,000 for their program courtesy of the firm.

2015-2016 Everything Earned Athletic Award Winners

Lutheran East Boys Basketball

As the first recipients of our Everything Earned Athletic Award, the Falcons set the bar for the program. The team’s impressive season, dedication to their studies and participation in Lutheran East’s annual Service Day exemplified the values we sought in our winners. The team contributed the $1,000 from the award to ongoing gymnasium renovations.

Max S. Hayes High Swimming

The Lakers took home this year’s Senate Athletic League title after an outstanding performance at the championship meet. The school’s valedictorian and several students enrolled in advanced placement courses compete on the team. Learn more about how these students go above and beyond in the pool, the classroom and the community.

James F. Rhodes Boys Cross Country

The Rams overcame the odds to earn their award. Despite the fact that only two members of the team had ever run a mile prior to joining the school’s cross country team, their hard work paid off with a Senate League Championship. While the team’s achievements were remarkable, a good deed they performed during the season caught our attention.

Willoughby South Girls Volleyball

When the Rebels discovered their coach’s 3-year-old great niece was battling cancer, the team organized a “Princess Night” fundraiser and brought their community together to raise $5,000 in honor of Bella’s Special Wish. In addition to the $1,000 award for the volleyball program, Elk & Elk made a $1,000 donation to A Special Wish Foundation in the team’s name.

Westlake Girls Soccer

The Westlake girls soccer team has competed in 11 of the past 13 district finals. The Lady Demons have been recognized 11 times as a 1st Team Scholastic All-American Team, and every player carries a GPA above 4.0. The team put the money from their award toward the purchase of soccer shelters for the upcoming season.

Euclid Football

The Euclid Panthers have showed no signs of slowing down since the conclusion of their 10-3 season and appearance in the OHSAA Division I playoffs. Twenty-five of the team’s seniors will continue their football careers at the collegiate level, and every player in the Class of 2016 is pursuing a college degree or entering the military.

Elk & Elk intends to expand the Everything Earned Athletic Award Program in coming years. Like Elk & Elk’s Facebook page or follow @elkandelk on Twitter for updates about the campaign.

None 4 Under 21 & Choices Beyond 2016

The Importance of Making Safe Decisions

None 4 Under 21 & Choices Beyond 2016

On Tuesday, April 19, Elk & Elk joined Portage County Safe Communities in presenting the 14th Annual None 4 Under 21 and Choices Beyond Program. Each year nearly 2,000 students from area high schools travel to Hiram College to attend the event. It is held at the start of prom and graduation season to reinforce the importance of making smart decisions behind the wheelNone 4 Under 21 2016.

A realistic crash scene set the tone of the program as students made their way into Paul Martin Fieldhouse. The speakers were introduced by Elk & Elk Partner Marilena DiSilvio, who was invited to emcee the event.

“Although each speaker had a different experience, they are all identical in that the consequences will last forever,” said DiSilvio. “Each incident did not affect just one person, but so many.”

Marc Streem, the first speaker, shared the emotional story of the crash that killed his 14-year-old son, Ryan, almost fifteen years ago. Next, the students heard from Amanda Buxton, who is currently serving four years in prison after she crashed into a tree while driving intoxicated, killing her passenger. The final speaker, Aaron Cooksey, served time in prison and had his license suspended for life after he killed his best friend while driving under the influence. He reflected on the events that led to his decision to get behind the wheel after drinking and the long-term consequences of his actions.

The program concluded with the “Walk of Remembrance.” Eleven area families stood in line to honor their loved one who was killed in a crash caused by impaired or distracted driving.

Download Elk & Elk’s Parent-Teen Pledge

Prom and graduation season may be a particularly dangerous time for teens, but impaired and distracted drivers put lives at risk every day. Discussing the consequences of these actions with your family can be difficult, but it is a step that must be taken to protect your loved ones and others on the road.

Download Elk & Elk’s Parent-Teen Pledge and start the conversation today.

Elk & Elk Goes Green

Elk & Elk Co., Ltd. is proud to announce its designation as “Green Certified” through the CMBA Green Initiative Certification program for the years 2015-2017.Green Logo - Elk & Elk is Green Certified 2015 - 2017

On October 2, 2015, Elk & Elk was among more than 40 law firms and offices recognized as “Green Certified” during the David Webster Greener Way to Work luncheon, hosted by the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association (CMBA).

“Elk & Elk is grateful to be recognized for adopting environmentally sound business practices,” said Dawn Urban, Green Administrator for Elk & Elk. “We applaud the CMBA’s efforts and are proud to join our fellow Green Certification recipients, making a difference in our community by recycling and reducing energy consumption.”

CMBA Green Initiative

The CMBA’s Green Initiative was the brainchild of the late David Webster, a well-regarded Cleveland attorney and environmentalist. In his memory, the Green Initiative Committee (GIC) presents the annual David Webster Greener Way to Work Week, encouraging members of the legal community to find greener ways to commute to work. The GIC also hosts the Greener Way to Work luncheon, which recognizes area law firms, offices and legal support organizations for their commitment to protecting the environment.

Michelle Cook, CMBA 2015 Green Initiative Committee Chair and Colby Sattler of the Western Reserve Land Conservancy
Michelle Cook, 2015 Green Initiative Committee Chair and Colby Sattler of the Western Reserve Land Conservancy. (Photo courtesy of CMBA)

During the luncheon, Michelle Cook, the 2015 GIC Chair, thanked the attendees for practicing efficient energy use. “Everything we do has an impact, be it large or small,” said Cook. “Even if you are only one person, you have the power to enact change. Every tiny decision you make is like a brick, and brick by brick, a whole house is built. Together, the Cleveland legal community is coming together person by person, firm by firm, and together we are making big changes.”

Keynote speaker, Colby Sattler of the Western Reserve Land Conservancy, presented eye-opening statistics and information about the need to Reforest Our City. He shared practical solutions for businesses and individuals to help restore Cleveland’s once lush urban forest, which earned it the moniker, “The Forest City.”

Elk & Elk recognized as Green Certified

To qualify as CMBA Green Certified, Elk & Elk was required to demonstrate that the firm is in compliance with the established criteria below.

Elk & Elk recognized as Green Certified through the CMBA Green Initiative Certification program.
Denise Pickett; Mary Ann Watts; Venera Ilievska & Dawn Urban, Green Administrator, accepting the CMBA Green Certificate on behalf of Elk & Elk Co., Ltd. (Photo courtesy of CMBA)

A.  Paper Reduction – A commitment to 2 of the following 4 efforts to reduce per capita paper use:

  1. Purchasing office paper with at least 30% recycled content
  2. Using double-sided copying and printing, at least for drafts and internal documents
  3. Recycling discarded office paper
  4. Purchasing office paper only from paper manufacturers with sustainable forestry management practices

B.  Energy Reduction – A commitment to reduce office energy use by 10% in the first year of certification

C.  Recycling Program – Must have or form a firm/office program for recycling glass, plastic and e-waste products (toner cartridges, computers, etc.)

D.  Internal Green Committee – Must have or form a firm/office Green Committee or designated administrator to implement the program, interface with the CMBA, and generally encourage environmentally-responsible practices among staff.

Tips for going Green

The CMBA’s Green Initiative Certification program promotes green practices for adoption by law firms, small law offices, solo practitioners, and legal departments of other businesses. However, any business can reduce, recycle and reuse to help our environment.
The CMBA Green Initiative Committee suggests the following activities to save energy:

CMBA Greener Way to Work luncheon
2015 David Webster Greener Way to Work luncheon, hosted by the CMBA. (Photo courtesy of CMBA)
  • Turn off lights, computers, copiers, printers, and other equipment when not in use
  • Replace incandescent or halogen lamps with compact fluorescents (CFT)
  • Use day lighting as much as possible, instead of lights
  • Enable power-down management software on networked computers
  • Make sure screensavers are used
  • Upgrade the ambient fluorescent lighting system by replacing the T12 lamps with more energy-efficient T8 or T5 systems and upgrade exit signs to use light-emitting diode (LED) lamps
  • Use automatic lighting controls such as dimming systems that reduce light when natural daylight is available; and occupancy and motion sensors for, among other things, conference rooms, kitchens, storage rooms, and restrooms. Consider occupancy sensors that power down computer equipment, task lights, and other plug load equipment
  • Educate cleaning crews to shut off miscellaneous items such as office lights, coffee pots, and other equipment when not used

But going green is hard, right?

Remember, the decision to go green doesn’t have to be an “all or nothing” proposition—every little bit helps. As the ancient Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu, once said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” So, come on! Take that first step and walk with us on our journey to a greener planet.

 

Race for the Place Recap

On Sunday, June 7, Elk & Elk joined more than 4,100 supporters at the 15th Annual Race for the Place to benefit The Gathering Place. The event, held at Beachwood Place, is the largest local celebration of National Cancer Survivors Day.

Elk & Elk was a sponsor of Race for the Place 2015, and partner Marilena DiSilvio serves on the Board of Directors of The Gathering Place.

A group of more than 30 Elk & Elk attorneys, employees, family members and friends came together in support of the event. Team Elk Tracks exceeded its $1,500 goal, raising a total of $1,830 for The Gathering Place.

Team Elk Tracks helped raise more than $1,800 for The Gathering Place.
Team Elk Tracks helped raise more than $1,800 for The Gathering Place.

For more photos, follow us on Instagram.

This year’s event, which was presented by University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center, raised more than $350,000. The teams who raised the most money included Zelman & Associates, Strides for Sherri, Fully Functional and Shaker Soles, and Jack Bialosky was the top individual fundraiser.

“Our gratitude goes out to each and every one of you for participating in Race for the Place by registering, putting together teams, donating and asking family and friends to donate,” said Eileen Saffran, CEO. “More than 4,000 walkers and runners showed their support at Beachwood Place at this year’s event.”

Participants had the option of walking or running either a 1-mile or 5K race. Before the races, cancer survivors were honored during the Survivor Ceremony, and a variety of family activities were offered in the Celebration Village throughout the event. An awards ceremony followed the races.

All funds raised by Race for the Place benefit The Gathering Place, a community-based cancer support center in Beachwood, Ohio. Since January 2000, The Gathering Place has offered a variety of free programs and services to address the social, emotional, physical and spiritual needs of individuals with cancer in the greater Cleveland community and their support networks.

Next year’s Race for the Place is scheduled for Sunday, June 5, 2016.

Visit www.touchedbycancer.org for more information about The Gathering Place.