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A look back at Dollars for Doers in 2020

January 28, 2021

Employees volunteering in their communities results in $48,700 donated dollars to deserving organizations

The Dollars for Doers giving program is a community engagement initiative encouraging employees to volunteer personal time to local charities and organizations. Employees who volunteer can apply for Dollars for Doers, and if criteria are met Stantec then gifts a charitable donation of $500 to the organization they volunteered with.

In 2020, we donated $48,700 to local charities around the globe thanks to our employees. What remained positive during the challenging times the COVID-19 pandemic brought were our employees continuing to volunteer when organizations needed them most.

Virtual fundraising for individuals impacted by HIV/AIDS

Jason Stephenson, director of marketing and communications in our North Central region, spent his time volunteering at the Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS (DIFFA). DIFFA is a not-for-profit fundraising and grant making foundation that distributes funds to Chicago area HIV/AIDS service agencies providing direct services, preventative education, and outreach to people who are HIV positive, living with AIDS, or at risk for infection. Jason is a member of the DIFFA Chicago board and started his two-year term on July 1, 2020.

With COVID impacting DIFFA’s ability to host in-person fundraising events, including their primary gala fundraiser, they focused on planning one event they could develop and host virtually—their annual art auction, Art for Life Chicago. Using his wealth of experience in marketing and communications, Jason led development of an integrated social media campaign to increase the event’s visibility. The event was a great success, raising just under $50,000 to fund grants.

“The commitment from Stantec to support our employee volunteer time is representative of the distinctive culture that Stantec has created—a culture that is focused on doing the right thing,” Jason said. “The Dollars for Doers funds are an investment in our employees from a cultural and emotional perspective. It’s ‘walking the talk’ in the best possible way.”

A rewarding experience in guide dog training

Ray Kesel, senior associate and architect in Rochester, New York, has been volunteering with Guiding Eyes for the Blind (GEB) since 2008. GEB was founded in 1954 and is a not-for-profit that provides guide dogs to people with vision loss. Since GEB’s inauguration, over 7,000 guide dogs have been trained and teamed with those in need. Over the last 12 years, Ray and his wife have been raising service dogs, puppy sitting, and helping in any way they can. Not only are they training guide dogs, but they have also experienced raising a dog who went on to become an Ignitable Liquid Detection K-9 for the Massachusetts State Police.

COVID has had a large impact on the GEB programs and dog training. They had to cancel the normal class schedule and remove dogs from their kennels, placing them with fosters who could still provide training during the region’s first lockdown. This transitioned to home training with each guide dog team. The impact will be fewer dogs graduating in the usual timeframe, but GEB and the volunteers are adapting to weekly virtual puppy classes.

“I think the Dollars for Doers program is fantastic; it benefits communities in so many ways,” said Ray. “People may think $500 isn’t a lot of money, but for some of these smaller not-for-profit organizations, this money can go a long way. This program can have big impacts for the communities we live in, and it helps support those in need.”

Supporting a children’s hospital with events and donations

Cassandra Shoup, environmental designer in West Chester, Pennsylvania, volunteers with Blake’s Blessing, which was established to support the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s (CHOP) efforts towards saving children’s lives and assist families that have sick children in their care. Since starting in 2017, Blake’s Blessings has donated $19,500 to CHOP. Specifically, funds went to the neurology and infectious disease departments and the pediatric ICU’s family lounge coffee hour hosted by CHOP’s social services department. The 2019 and 2020 fundraising efforts will fund a Blake’s Blessing grant for families that can benefit from financial support.

Through the support of the community, Blake’s Blessing hosts fundraising events where 100% of proceeds go toward their mission. They run on kindness, community, hope, and are completely volunteer led. Cassandra’s role includes assisting with event logistics and raising donations for event raffles. Blake’s Blessing was able to adapt to COVID challenges, successfully and safety hosting their 3rd annual golf tournament this past summer. They will continue to find creative ways to fundraise and hope to safely host their annual gala event again soon.

“I really appreciate that Stantec will match my volunteer efforts with a donation made from Dollars for Doers,” Cassandra shared. “It provides meaningful support to a local non-profit organization that I am passionate about.”

The Dollars for Doers program is here to give deserving organizations and charities an extra boost in funding. We are proud to give back to our communities and applaud our employees for taking time to participate in making where they live and work a better place.

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