I was flying back to Chicago after interviewing Bill and Tina Howe and their team for our Contractor of the Year story when I ran across a profile of hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons in the airline magazine. In it, Simmons affirmed his commitment to philanthropy. “Give what you want to receive,” the article quoted Simmons. “It’s impossible to receive any sort of lasting success from the world without giving.”
That also sums up Bill and Tina Howe and everyone at Bill Howe Plumbing.
The contractor first got involved with Job Corps about a decade ago, Bill Howe says, and then the American Heart Association five years ago. Bill Howe Plumbing employees pack boxes at the San Diego Food Bank. The Howes support the Burn Institute of San Diego, the Boys & Girls Clubs, and a charity started by one of their employees, the Andrew Chapman Mentorship Program and Second Chance. They’ll sponsor any Little League, soccer team or sports club that an employee asks them to.
Bill and Tina both generously give to organizations such as the Burn Institute of San Diego and the American Heart Association. Over the past three years, their contributions have topped $85,000 together for the organizations and they have signed on with the AHA for another two-year commitment of $50,000.
Generosity is part of the DNA of the contractors in this industry, with last year’s Contractor of the Year, Kevin and Kathy Tindall, Tindall & Ranson, Princeton, N.J., typical.
“We volunteer because of what the industry has done for us,” says Kathy Tindall. It’s hard to imagine that the industry has done more for the Tindalls than they have done for the industry.
After Hurricane Sandy hit the Jersey Shore, first responders on Long Beach Island were in dire straights. Long Beach Township Emergency Operations Center, the Beach Haven EOC and the Beach Haven, Surf City and Ship Bottom Fire Departments had no electricity, plumbing or drinking water. The Toms River Fire Department had lost its firehouse.
Community members turned out in force to donate drinking water, cleaning supplies, bleach, fruits and vegetables and hundreds of pairs of dry socks. The Tindalls and others made multiple trips to the island to help out the first responders.
Kevin, as is his nature, was nonchalant about it. “What else are you going to do on a Saturday,” he said, “Sit on the couch and watch college football?”
In much the same way, John Smith, the Arizona Green Plumber who was our 2011 Contractor of the Year, worked on the new Ronald McDonald House in Tucson and the Tucson Children’s Museum. Smith also pulled all of the plumbing fixtures from the old Ronald McDonald House and donated them to Habitat for Humanity’s Tucson HabiStore.
In Orlando, EMCOR Group’s Mechanical Services Inc. has held a charity golf tournament for nearly 30 years on behalf of Frontline Outreach, raising more than $780,000 to-date for the organization, which focuses on early childhood development in Urban Orlando.
Mr. Rooter Plumbing franchisees and their teams have donated plumbing and drain cleaning services, as well as volunteered their labor and time to Ronald McDonald Houses across North America. The in-kind donations have totaled tens of thousands of dollars.
Every fall local association chapters affiliated with Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors, Mechanical Contractors Association, or Air Conditioning Contractors of America participate in the Heat’s On – Water’s Off campaign to fix or replace heating equipment in the homes of the elderly, disabled or indigent.
How many hours have this industry’s contractors donated to Habitat for Humanity? Is it over a million? Probably.
A couple initiatives outside of our industry made me think.
The National Roofing Contractors Association has a Pay It Forward program as part of its Roofing Industry Alliance for Progress.
A group of general contractors has formed Contractors Who Care http://www.contractorswhocare.org/ as a dedicated philanthropic platform for the country’s 80,000 general contractors to give back to their communities.
Would our industry benefit from having this type of formal, centralized charitable organization as part of, for example, Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors – National Association? I’m not sure, but it’s something to think about. And I know there are plenty of philanthropic contractors who could lead the effort.