Bank of Marin
Giving generously to 200-plus charities
“At Bank of Marin, we feel it’s our responsibility as a member of the community to support and partner with nonprofit organizations,” said Russell Colombo, president and chief executive officer. “The bank was founded on the principle of community service, and it’s a commitment that remains strong today.”
Not only does Bank of Marin give more than 1 percent of pretax profit to more than 200 charities, employees are expected and encouraged to volunteer. Collectively, the staff volunteers more than 10,000 hours a year.
Bank of Marin volunteers serve as tutors in schools, by serving the homeless, sorting items at food banks, working in the garden at Homeward Bound, and providing board leadership on close to 70 nonprofit boards.
Total North Bay cash contributions reached $341,000 in 2013. Total organization-wide giving was $361,000 in all the bank’s markets.
The bank focuses on supporting youth and education, housing and human services, civic and economic development, arts and culture, and health services for those in need.
The bank recognizes there are many ways to give back to the community. Many non-profit organizations do not have adequate equipment or facilities, so it has made it a practice to donate office and kitchen equipment and lend meeting rooms to organizations in need.
Bank of Marin donates generously to Schools Rule, providing funding for art and technology in Marin County schools; Sunny Hills Services, which serves at-risk children and adolescents; and Buckelew Programs, which supports mentally ill teens and adults with affordable housing and job training. Other recipients include Boys and Girls Club, Hospice by the Bay and The Redwoods senior living facility.
Based on the philosophy that individuals and businesses should be recognized and appreciated for their volunteer efforts that serve the needs of the community, Bank of Marin established its annual Spirit of Marin Awards. The bank has partnered with Marin County chambers of commerce for 20 years to honor those who make a difference in the community.
The success of this program influenced the Sonoma County Economic Development Board to replicate it with the formation of the Spirit of Sonoma Awards.
“At the heart of everything we do is giving back to the communities we serve,” Mr. Colombo said.
Supporting Human Race, Doyle scholarship
As a local financial institution since 1890, Exchange Bank has become a key community partner by focusing on its 124-year legacy of ongoing support that continues to create positive change in the North Bay.
From its leadership in Sonoma County’s Human Race, to the distribution of the Doyle Scholarship, to engaging its staff in meaningful volunteer service projects with local non-profits, Exchange Bank has always been there — ready to help.
In the fiscal year ending December 31, 2013, the bank contributed $688,000 through direct corporate giving program to numerous non-profit organizations.
Exchange Bank also maintains high visibility in the community by encouraging employees — from upper management to tellers — to give of their time throughout the community.
The impact of that involvement has been profound. Each year, hundreds of hours, and hundreds of thousands of dollars are invested back into the community.
By promoting and providing volunteer opportunities, Exchange Bank recognizes the importance of employees, their families and customers to feel connected to the community by being part of dedicated and loyal business making a difference in Sonoma County.
The bank partners with the Volunteer Center of Sonoma County through its annual Human Race event. Exchange Bank’s leadership in the Human Race over the past 15 plus years has resulted in raising more than $1 million for local Sonoma County nonprofits.
In addition, Exchange Bank donates funds to the Police Officers Association Memorial Scholarship Fund, and is a major supporter of the United Way.
Exchange Bank is also a corporate sponsor of KZST-FM’s We Believe in Sonoma County program. In that, a corporate sponsor shares the air — a 60-second commercial — with a local nonprofit to help tell their story.
Last year the bank partnered with the Volunteer Center, Chop’s Teen Club, Leukemia and Lymphoma Light the Night Society and the American Heart Association.
Employees and family members participate in the Rebuilding Together National Rebuilding Day, where volunteers gather to revitalize the houses of low-income homeowners.
With the restart of the Doyle Scholarship program during the tenure of retiring President and CEO Bill Schrader, Exchange Bank continues the community involvement Frank P. Doyle and his family began 66 years ago.
According to the bank, the Frank P. Doyle and Polly O’Meara Doyle Trust has proven to be one of the most remarkable planned gifts in the history of American community college education. Dividends from stock placed in this trust are used to fund Doyle Scholarships. More than $79 million in scholarships has been awarded to 120,000-plus students since 1948.
Freeman Toyota Lexus
Supporting Wells Fargo Center for the Arts for 33 years
In the 1970s, a group of 12 local community leaders and business owners came together with a vision to create a home for the arts in Sonoma County.
Among this group were Tom and Betty Freeman. Along with their partners, they purchased an existing building complex and created the Luther Burbank Memorial Foundation, the nonprofit organization that owns and operates Wells Fargo Center for the Arts.
In 2014, some 33 years after the center’s founding, the Freeman family continues to support it through their business, Freeman Toyota Lexus. Co-owners are Dianna Freeman, Mark Freeman and Don Woodruff.
As the longest-standing corporate partner, Freeman Toyota Lexus continues to support a wide range of programs, from the center’s Symphony Pops Series to Education Through the Arts, which serves more than 30,000 children each year by using the arts to strengthen learning in core subjects like math, reading and science.
“Together these programs, offer accessibility to all children, help to fill gaps in school budgets and provide learning experiences that lead to greater academic achievement, the development of self-esteem, creativity and communications skills,” said Peggy Mulhall, director of business partnerships and community rentals for the center and a nominator of the vehicle sales company for a philanthropy award. “These programs are curriculum-based and geared to pre-K-to-12th grade students and teachers. Two-thirds of students come from low-to-moderate income families in Sonoma, Mendocino, Lake, Marin and Napa counties.”
Education Through the Arts programs include:
- 25-plus school shows each year.
- “Set the Stage” docent-led classroom programs on theater etiquette.
- 50 Artist in the Schools visits.
- Bus fund.
- Tools for Teachers, professional development and Kennedy Center education workshops.
- 450-piece Music for Schools instrument-lending library, enabling low-income students to participate in school bands and orchestras.
- New Song Music Camp.
- Draw It! Paint It! Sculpt I! Art Camp.
- Masters classes with world-renowned artists.
- Missoula Children’s Theatre residency program.
- Target Literacy, an inspiring partnership between Wells Fargo Center and Target to bring books to students who may never have had them before and they experience the magic of these stories come to life on stage.
“As a family-owned business, supporting the community is at our core,” Betty Freeman said. “We are proud to have been supporters of Wells Fargo Center for the Arts since it was founded.”
Over the years, the Freeman family has been listed among a group of donors who regularly contribute at the center’s highest level of financial support.
“We want to thank the Freeman family and Freeman Toyota Lexus for their long-standing support of the arts in our community and the center’s mission to enrich, educate and entertain the people we serve,” Ms. Mulhall said.
Donating vehicles, gas cards and groceries to needy families
“We’ve seen first hand the number of vehicles G&C AutoBody has donated to needy individuals,” said Scott Snow, senior vice president and senior credit products officer for Bank of America and nominator of G&C for an award.
G&C owner and Chief Executive officer Gene Crozat, along with his mechanics and painters, make sure the previously owned vehicles are in good operating condition. These cars have been obtained for the sole purpose of helping families who can’t afford them.
Not only does G&C AutoBody give away cars, it also assists families by donating grocery and gas cards along with checks for clothing, rent and utility payments.
G&C also takes parents with children on shopping sprees to get essential back-to-school items they need.
The firm had also paid for flights so families could be reunited, and has covered outstanding fines so that others can get a license and register a vehicle. According to G&C, it’s all part of a process to get them back on the road to recovery.
“They gave away 15 cars in 2013 and four more in February 2014,” Mr. Snow said. “Furthermore, being involved with the Children’s Village of Sonoma County, I’m also aware of the financial support and various other donations G&C AutoBody has made to this nonprofit.”
G&C went above and beyond in helping Children’s Village by sending 14 staff members and chaperones — along with 24 foster children — on a fully expense-paid, three-day trip to Disneyland Resort in spring 2013. Mr. Crozat said he wanted these foster children to be able to experience a true, family-like vacation.
The family also supports many other charities and recently formed the Crozat Family Foundation.
“We also assist the Christmas Wishes program and over the last two holiday seasons our employees assembled 1,000 Secret Santa hearts that are hung on trees at businesses around town with the names, ages and needs of individuals,” according to Govinda Crozat, G&C Outreach Program director, assistant to the president and wife of Chief Operations Officer Shawn Crozat. “Gene and Teri Crozat donated a generous amount to Sonoma County’s Secret Santa program, and my brother and sister-in-law [Pat and Tara Crozat] donated time to the radiothon.”
During the holidays, G&C staff members assembled 50 bicycles as gifts for local children through the Secret Santa program.
In 2013, G&C gave $25,000 to the Christmas Miracles, a partnership between G&C and Sonoma Media Group, providing small miracles for needy families who contacted radio stations seeking help. The company learned about these families through stations KZST, KGFY and KHTH in response to on-air appeals, as well as from hundreds of letters sent directly to the company. Each letter is read and the most urgent requests come first.
“We also gave each of our families who were previous car recipients $500 for Christmas shopping,” Ms. Crozat said.
Ghilotti Construction Co.
Benefiting youth, education, sports, artistic causes
Community philanthropy is a core value at Ghilotti Construction Company as described in the mission statement of the founder:
“Do good work. Be responsible. Take care of the community and the people who work for you,” James Ghilotti, who established the company 100 years ago in 1914, is recorded as saying.
The company contributes to the community in several ways. First, there are in-kind donations of capital improvements — such as grading and paving parking lots — and second, commitment many employees hours to more than two dozen North Bay nonprofit organizations and causes.
“We support our employees’ local charities by donating and sponsoring their charity events,” said company owner and President Richard Ghilotti. “While education is a priority, so are children’s charities, food banks and other nonprofits that directly benefit families. When you come from a large Italian family as I do, your heart goes out to the needs of other families who are less fortunate.”
Ghilotti Construction supports other educational organizations, including Sonoma State University, Rio Lindo Adventist Academy, Redwood Adventist Academy, Dominican University, Santa Clara University and River Montessori Foundation.
Children, youth and family organizations are also recipients of Ghilotti Construction contributions. Those include Speedway Children’s Charities, Boy & Girls Town of Italy, St. Jude’s Foundation, Sunny Hills Services, Love a Child Missions, Center for Domestic Peace, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), and Sonoma County YMCA.
Furthermore, the construction company also has contributed to Madden Charities, The Beaver’s Charitable Trust, Marin Community Food Bank, KQED, the American Cancer Society, Adopt a Family, Hospice of Petaluma, Sutter Hospice and the Susan G. Koman Foundation.
Ghilotti Construction is a major donor to the Dino J. Ghilotti Foundation’s annual golf tournament. Started in 1993 by his children Diane, Richard and Linda in memory of their father, the foundation supports local education and athletic programs in primary and secondary schools in Marin County, where he was born and raised.
Last year, Richard Ghilotti’s family founded The DG Foundation in memory of Nancy and Richard’s son Dino, who died at age 22. He was an avid football player who loved the San Francisco 49ers and was an accomplished athlete and artist.
With Richard and Nancy Ghilotti’s other son, William, and daughter Michelle, the foundation will fund scholarships to their brother’s almae matres– Marin Catholic High School and University of Miami — and to students who demonstrate a spirit of inclusion throughout all of their academic, athletic and artistic pursuits, just like Dino Ghilotti did, according to Richard Ghilotti.
Redwood Credit Union
Microloans to Community Action Partnership grads
“Because it’s the right thing to do, and we care about our community.” That was the answer Lannie Medina of Sonoma County’s Community Action Partnership received from Redwood Credit Union when asking why the financial institution is so enthusiastic and willing to fund more than $1 million in microloans to graduates of the agency’s Microbusiness Development Program and financial-literacy classes.
“In the spectrum of philanthropic possibilities, RCU’s leadership, staff and Board seized the opportunity to form a strategic partnership with CAP to create positive change for people in our community,” said Ms. Medina, the partnership’s chief advancement officer. “Through RCU’s commitment, struggling and hardworking families in Sonoma County have the chance to get on their feet and create a stable, sustainable life.”
The Redwood Credit Union–Community Action Partnership cooperation will help create more than 100 microbusinesses in Sonoma County over the next three to five years.
When Mike Downey, the financial institution’s senior vice president of business services, spoke at the agency’s microbusiness classes, adult students in the room listened carefully, according to Ms. Medina.
She said he told the students, “Striving people on the brink of poverty and despair sat up taller, exchanged hopeful, could-this-really-be-true glances, and their eyes filled with joy.
“RCU’s investment in Sonoma County has had a positive impact. Partnerships like this demonstrate that with hard work and education, the American dream is alive and available to people from all areas of life,” Ms. Medina said.
Community giveback is so integral to Redwood Credit Union’s culture, it’s captured in the organization’s mission statement: “To passionately serve the best interests of its members, employees and communities.”
In addition to providing donations and sponsorships, RCU employees volunteer and fundraise with passion and consistency for a host of North Bay nonprofits and community programs.
In 2013, RCU participated in more than 300 nonprofit and community events, and RCU employees collectively spent over 3,200 hours volunteering for the benefit of the communities where they live and work.
Highlights of RCU’s community giving in 2013 include:
- $96,000 contributed to United Way’s 2013 workplace-giving campaign.
- $18,000 raised from Human Race events in Sonoma, Marin and Mendocino counties, benefiting local volunteer centers and nonprofits.
- American Red Cross contributions from members and staff exceeded $7,500 toward national and international disaster relief.
- Contributed more than $36,000 to support Children’s Miracle Network hospitals.
- Other nonprofits supported include the Volunteer Center of Sonoma County, Center for Volunteer & Nonprofit Leadership of Marin, local food banks, Boys & Girls Clubs, Big Brothers Big Sisters and Chop’s Teen Club.
RCU also provides free financial education for teens, teaching real-world money-management skills not currently taught in schools.
The institution hosts an annual community Shred-a-Thon in Santa Rosa and Marin, where people can bring sensitive documents to be shredded for free, and receive education on how to protect themselves from identity theft and fraud.
Furthermore, the credit union offers free use of its Santa Rosa Community Room to nonprofits for educational programs and events.
“Credit unions are cooperatives, founded on the principle of ‘people helping people,’ so for RCU, giving back to our community is simply who we are,” said Brett Martinez, president and chief executive officer. “We’re here to help.”
W. Bradley Electric, Inc.
Supporting 35-plus nonprofits
Leslie Murphy, chief executive officer of W. Bradley Electric, has inspired her team of 170 throughout the North Bay through the support of more than 35 nonprofits
“All of this stems from WBE’s Core Value No. 5, which says, ‘We share a mission to make an impact on our local and regional societies,’” said Deb Williams, the marketing communications specialist for the Novato-based electrical and electronic systems general contractor. “We strive to mentor, give back, donate, coach and serve others so that this world is a better place because of our existence.”
Ms. Murphy is a committee member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Marin and Southern Sonoma County, for which she is giving her time and support and has personally raised many dollars. About $50,000 of the funds came from WBE.
The money will be used for a new Boys & Girls Clubs Center at the San Jose Middle School, scheduled to open on Aug. 20 and will offer club members a place to grow and learn in a fun and safe environment.
According to WBE, its annual contributions totaled $149,000 in 2013. That is said to be more than what companies five times their size typically contribute each year. In the words of one of the firm’s business associates, “It is because our hearts are five times as big.”
Ms. Murphy’s sincere dedication to supporting the community is further demonstrated through the creation of the WBE Giving Committee in 2011.
“Our Giving Committee Members help distribute funds to various nonprofits and organize in-house Lunch & Learns with speakers from the American Heart Association, Blue Star Moms of Marin, just to name a few,” Ms. Williams said.
In addition, WBE sponsors four hours for each of its 60 office employees to volunteer at a nonprofit of their choice during the year-end holiday season.
The Giving Committee meets throughout the year to discuss which charities to become involved with and they put in many hours of their own time organizing and preparing lunch for the Lunch & Learn events and shopping for items to donate to the chosen charities.
The contractor’s other large donations in 2013 went to C.O.T.S. of Petaluma, Yountville Veterans Home, AIDS Walk, Novato Human Needs, Novato Youth Center and the North Bay Children’s Center.
“Our employees take pride in being part of our Giving Committee,” Ms. Murphy said. “It is important for us to emphasize that members of this hard-working Committee, as well as all of our employees, are a big reason why we can give what we do each year.”
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