Companies Make Giving Back Part of Their Business Plans
In Tune with the Arts Studios
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Entrepreneurs make a lot of decisions when starting their businesses: What should they name their companies? How will they differentiate their businesses from the competition? Who are their target audiences?
Some local business owners also ask how they can use their platforms to give back to their communities.
Glenshaw Auto Service Inc. owners Sam Concelman Jr. and his wife, Lori, have hosted Family Service Days—part of a national initiative in which repair shops offer free vehicle maintenance, services and automotive education to families in need—for the last two years.
“We helped a family whose dad is in the Army, and helped a newly widowed elderly woman get her car inspected because her husband had always taken care of that,” said Lori Concelman.
The company also helped a woman who could not afford the repairs that employees from another auto shop told her were necessary to pass a state inspection. Glenshaw Auto Service technicians determined that the vehicle did not need all of the recommended costly repairs. “We were able to repair the issues that were legitimate, inspect the vehicle and send her on her way,” said Concelman.
In addition to Family Service Day, Glenshaw Auto Service provided free services during radio station K-LOVE-FM’s Single Moms: An Evening of Pampering event. “It’s not like we’re in New York where you have several public transportation options,” Concelman said. “People are in a pickle if they don’t have a car to get around.”
Similarly, In Tune with the Arts Studios Inc., a family-run company offering vocal, instrumental, recording and preschool music instruction, has raised nearly $100,000 through nine years of fundraising performances for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Co-owner Maryann Perrotte was inspired to raise funds for the cause when her friend’s grandson was born with the genetic disease, which results in persistent lung infections and breathing limitations.
“It’s always been a very big event,” she said. “We have vendors come in, and they donate a portion of their profits to the CF Foundation, and we also get a lot of donations through the silent and Chinese auctions.”
The Perrottes do not require students to participate in the event, but usually 25 to 35 perform. “It gives our students an opportunity to perform in a different venue than just a formal recital, and it also gives us an opportunity to support a good cause,” said Perrotte. While she has not organized the events for the past two years, she hopes to resume doing so in the near future.
“They’ve made great, great strides for CF,” she said. “We were so happy that we could be a part of it.”
For the last three years, Ethan Vactor, 9, has utilized his father’s clinic—Weight Loss North Pittsburgh—as a collection headquarters for his Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC toy drive. Seeing the movie Letters to God about a boy with cancer motivated him to help sick children in need.
“It makes me feel good and thankful to help those children that are sick and in the hospital,” Ethan said. “I know I’m putting a smile on their faces and hopefully they feel better, too.”
Ethan’s father, Michael Vactor, DC, said he was surprised to an extent by his son’s mature endeavors. “Ethan is a very caring and thoughtful child,” he said. “He has always had a heart to help people in need.”
Ethan seeks new, unwrapped gifts or gift cards for children of all ages. “The gifts can be as small as a coloring book, all the way up to a large toy or an iPad,” he said. To drop off toy donations for Ethan’s toy drive (deadline is Dec. 7), visit Weight Loss North Pittsburgh, 673 Castle Creek Drive Extension, Seven Fields, PA 16046. To place a collection box at your business, call 724-742-2700.
Olive Branch, a nonprofit retail store and community space operated under Salem United Methodist Church in Pine, sells handcrafted accessories and housewares as well as food items from impoverished regions around the world. Volunteer Mary Sheehan said they acquire items through fair trade vendors, including Ten Thousand Villages and SERRV.
Community members gather at the shop to work on projects like sewing purses for girls in Zambia to hold their feminine hygiene products, because girls often stay home from school during menstruation because they lack places to store these items. “This is a real kind of empowerment project to help them get a good education and be better equipped for their lives,” said Sheehan.
Olive Branch supports the local community by collecting nonperishable items for North Hills Community Outreach and food for a number of school districts’ backpack initiatives that feed children in need. While the church has operated the store for more than 40 years, it has existed in its current retail location at 11160 Perry Highway in Wexford for almost a year.