From the editor Featured

10:02am EDT July 22, 2002

For as long as I've been on the business beat, I've been hearing executives and CEOs talk about "giving back to the community."

We all know it's a noble ideal, but at so many businesses, reality keeps getting in the way. Time is short and extra cash isn't as easy to come by as it once was. And with the kind of lean staffing that it now takes to run a profitable company, it's not always reasonable to expect your hard-working staff members to spend their own time in service to the community.

So while the nonprofit community needs our help more than ever, conditions seem to conspire against it.

In this issue, you'll read about three companies-two from the Akron area and one from Barberton-that are setting the pace for community service.

They are winners-along with eight other companies in Cleveland-in the first annual Medical Mutual Pillar Award for Community Service, a program created by SBN and Medical Mutual of Ohio.

The program has a threefold mission:

1. To recognize outstanding contributions to the nonprofit community;

2. To foster and encourage an environment of community service among the mid-market and small businesses served by both SBN and Medical Mutual;

3. To share creative ideas how companies that may not be rich in resources can still make an impact in the community.

As a fourth element, we have promised to donate proceeds of the program to charitable causes. To that end, our sister publication in Cleveland, which is managing the Pillar Award, has created the SBN/Pillar Award Fund, a sustaining gift that will grow each year while making annual contributions to worthy causes throughout Northeast Ohio. While we still haven't finished our accounting of the program for this year, SBN has committed to a minimum donation of $10,000.

So enough about us. What about the companies that have been honored in the first class of Pillar Award winners?

They represent an interesting mix of business types and sizes, which tells me that charity is alive and well across Northeast Ohio. Locally, the honorees include Connecting Touch Therapy & Wellness Center in Cuyahoga Falls-a near start-up that has made cash donations to a different charity every month, and has continued to grow even while its accountant pleads with the owner to be a little less selfless.

There's also SS&G Financial Services, a well-established accounting and consulting firm with a long history of charitable giving, and a story of rallying behind an ailing co-worker and a specific cause.

And in Barberton, there's PPG Industries, which has demonstrated an exceptional level of commitment for a multinational corporation in a nonheadquarters location.

These companies and the others, which you'll find listed in our Pillar Award coverage on page 10, will be honored at a Dec. 3 banquet in Cleveland, which was deliberately scheduled at a time of year when charity seems to be on everybody's mind.

But make no mistake, these companies are being honored because giving back to the community is something they do every day of the year.

Bob Rosenbaum can be reached at (216) 529-8584, or by e-mail at brosenbaum@sbnnet.com.