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Pillar Legacy Award finalists Featured

8:04am EDT November 26, 2002
The Cleveland Force

A 2001 Pillar Award honoree, The Cleveland Force (formerly the Crunch) has continued its commitment to community service by teaming up with the Cleveland Soccer Academy through the Super Y-League and The Force Juniors to give future soccer stars the chance to pursue their dream of playing soccer at the highest level.

The Force Juniors program is a step toward the Force's goal of forming a professional system for youth development while serving as a fully integrated member of the Northeast Ohio Soccer Community.

The Force is an organization comprised of individuals committed to the community. It has made more than 600 donations to Cleveland area agencies over the past three years and from May 2000 to September 2002, Force players have made more than 1,500 community appearances.

Another initiative, the Force "Big Buddy" Program, allows thousands of disadvantaged and disabled youth and adults to experience a professional sporting event. And, the organization participated in the Children's Museum of Cleveland's "Chairs that Care" benefit the past two years.

Cohen & Co.

When Cohen & Co. was honored with a Pillar Award in 1998, judges were impressed with the regional accounting firm's ability to leverage its employees' expertise in not-for-profit organization work. Staff members had performed pro bono audits and provided consulting services for more than 17 nonprofit groups.

Cohen & Co. has continued its commitment, developing a cashiering initiative for organizations such as Center for Families and Children, the Junior League and Boys and Girls Club of Lorain County. Employees have also volunteered at the Cleveland Food Bank.

In August 2002, Cohen & Co. partnered with the Center for Nonprofit Excellence to offer a free educational program for not-for-profit organizations. The firm hosted representatives from more than 60 organizations, who came to learn about financial statements, internal controls, tax developments, industry specific legal issues and government regulations.

And Partner Tom Bechtel educated Cohen & Co. staff on how to be an effective nonprofit board member and the importance of that role.

Dix & Eaton

Since winning a Pillar Award in 2001, Dix & Eaton has stepped up its leadership role in the community. That's no mean feat considering that last year, the public relations firm had employees sitting on more than 30 nonprofit boards through the Greater Cleveland community and provided pro bono public relations work to numerous regional agencies.

In the past 12 months, Dix & Eaton employees have increased their participation to nearly 40 nonprofit boards, with more than 100 organizations benefiting from their involvement.

One project involved working with The Cleveland Foundation to sponsor two half-day sessions for nonprofit communications staff and management for media training, where leaders from 10 organizations learned tips for working with the media. Another initiative involved working with the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center to increase awareness and generate donations.

Dix & Eaton also provided pro bono services to Hopewell Inn, which needed marketing materials as it began an arduous capital campaign. It designed and wrote Hopewell's annual report and the brochure sent to prospects as part of the fund-raising effort.

Family Heritage Life Insurance Co.

Since 1989, when Howard Lewis founded Family Heritage Life Insurance, its philanthropic focus has been on health issues. The supplemental health insurer earned a Pillar Award last year for its commitment to giving back.

Among its achievements, the company has supported St. Jude Children's Research Hospital with donations of more than $600,000 and created the Waylon Massey Memorial for Hope to help FHL employees and agents battling catastrophic illness.

In 2002, Ron Thompson was the first benefactor of the memorial program. Thompson, an FHL agent in Georgia, suffered a heart attack and was unable to work for more than four months. His family benefited from the foundation during this time.

FHL's largest home office initiative is its Harvest For Hunger drive. This year, it collected 4,600 pounds of food, doubling its previous year's efforts and garnering FHL platinum status from Harvest For Hunger. And, since Sept. 11, it has supported the Fallen Firefighters Fund by matching employees' donations dollar for dollar.

Hallrich Inc.

Hallrich Inc. CEO Tony Szambecki understands the value of giving back to the communities where his 86 Pizza Hut franchises are located.

Since 1968, the company has contributed time, money and product to thousands of community service projects. Its earliest contributions were in the form of local Little League sponsorships. Today, Hallrich donates at least $300,000 a year in product giveaways to the Book It! children's literacy program, just one of many programs it supports and sponsors.

A 1999 Pillar Award honoree, Hallrich encourages its 2,000-plus employees to participate in philanthropic efforts and honors those who do at an awards banquet. Last year, Szambecki and Carol Magazzeni, Hallrich's director of marketing and public relations, were themselves honored by the International Pizza Hut Franchise Holders' Association.

Since 2000, Hallrich has co-sponsored a book drive to support KidsFair, an annual event held by the Jewish Community Center of Akron to combat illiteracy. In both 2000 and 2001, the drive collected more than 5,000 books.

This year, Hallrich designated its 17 Summit County Pizza Hut locations as drop-off points for donated books and promised an all-school pizza party for the school that donated the most books. The winner donated 3,500 books, and Hallrich delivered lunch for the school's 800 students.

The James J. Roop Co.

Jim Roop gives back to the community the most effective way he knows how -- by applying his and his firm's expertise in public relations, investor relations and graphic design to the needs of nonprofit organizations across Northeast Ohio.

"Our philosophy is to treat every philanthropic project with the highest level of value and professionalism," says Roop, a 2000 Pillar Award honoree. "Charitable clients are always regarded with the same respect as those paying."

Since January 2001, Roop's professional contributions have totaled more than $71,000, and include 12 projects ranging from graphic design to project/event planning and implementation to media relations work. The firm designed invitations for the Opera League; a brochure, annual report, business cards and letterhead for Care Alliance; and a logo, letterhead and envelopes for IABC Cleveland.

During the same period, it donated more than $10,000 in cash to organizations such as Junior Achievement, Center for Families and Children and the Hasman Foundation.

Roop and his employees also serve the community as teachers, advisers and board members with organizations such as Boy's Hope Girls Hope, Project: LEARN and Economics America.

Main Street Gourmet

Steven Marks, co-CEO of Main Street Gourmet, has built Muffins for Mammograms, the Akron-based company's partnership with Akron General Health System's Women's Health and Cancer Center, into a nationally recognized program that has raised more than $100,000 for mammograms since its inception 10 years ago.

Marks says he and other senior managers believe Main Street Gourmet has a duty to give back to the community. Consequently, this 2000 Pillar Award honoree prides itself for its contributions to charitable, civic and community-related activities.

The company is a continuous donor of food to the Akron Canton Food Bank, which feeds the hungry. Main Street Gourmet's co-CEO, Harvey Nelson, has served as president of that organization since 1997.

Since 1995, Main Street Gourmet has supported the Weaver School Workshop at its corporate and production facilities. The school works with the mentally challenged. Several students are employed by Main Street Gourmet, which has been recognized by the Board of Mental Retardation and Development Disabilities for its support of people with disabilities.

National Association of Letter Carriers/U.S. Postal Service

As food drive and MDA coordinator of the local National Association of Letter Carriers and U.S. Postal Service, Richard Bilski has combined his professional life and personal commitment.

A 2000 Pillar Award honoree, Bilski coordinated a one-day food drive that netted 481,267 pounds of food for local food centers and shelters such as The Hunger Network, Catholic Charities, Emergency Hunger Centers, Cleveland Food Bank and Harvest for Hunger. At the time, that was the largest one-day food drive in Cleveland's history.

So what did Bilski do for an encore?

He broke that record. In 2002, the NALC's Stamp Out Hunger food drive collected 521,122 pounds of food, shattering the record and setting a state record for food collected by letter carriers and postal workers. The total placed the Cleveland team in the top 20 nationwide, at No. 19. More than 10,000 branches participated.

Bilski says the campaign also resulted in more than $10,000 in financial donations to the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

Parma Community General Hospital

"We take our responsibility as a corporate citizen of the communities we serve very seriously," says Thomas Selden, president & CEO of Parma Community General Hospital, a 2000 Pillar Award honoree. Since receiving the award, Selden and his staff have continued their charitable ways.

Among its recent achievements, the hospital was selected as the area business to pilot Gov. Bob Taft's Ohio Reads program in the Parma City School District. Thirty employees volunteered to tutor students in kindergarten to third grade in their reading skills. Each week, 13 volunteers went to Parma Elementary School to work with the children.

The hospital also purchased 10 automated external defibrillators for the Parma schools -- two AEDs for each of the three Parma high schools; one for each of the three junior high schools; and a portable AED for outdoor sporting events. The hospital's EMS Department is donating the time to teach courses for the 150 people designated by the school district to use the equipment.

And for five consecutive years, the hospital has been the top contributing hospital in Northeast Ohio's fund-raising by the Alzheimer's Association. In 2001, employees raised more than $6,000 for the nonprofit group.

The Shamrock Cos.

Two years ago, The Shamrock Cos. founded its community involvement committee and began its philanthropic activities. In its first year, it raised more than $22,000 among 60 employees at its headquarters and 30 employees around the Midwest. Those efforts earned the Westlake-based firm a 2001 Pillar Award.

During the past 18 months, Shamrock and its employees have donated clothing, small appliances and books to St. Vincent DePaul Stores. Employees donated 26 pints of blood during the American Red Cross' quarterly blood drive. A team of 15 helped build a Habitat for Humanity house in October 2001, and another team did the same in October 2002.

Four employees volunteered through Junior Achievement for a six-week program at an elementary school in Westlake, and the company adopted a family last Christmas and bought it gifts. And since its previous Pillar recognition, The Shamrock Cos. has made financial contributions in excess of $25,000.

St. John West Shore Hospital

Part of St. John West Shore's mission is to treat everyone, regardless of ability to pay. During the first seven months of 2002, the 2001 Pillar Award honoree has provided nearly $1.2 million in charity care.

This amount is expected to surpass $2 million by year's end, and reflects a 74 percent increase over 2001. The increase results in a higher number of individuals using services such as the Wellness Ministry and Partners in Ministry programs.

As part of the hospital's 20th anniversary last year, Partners in Ministry was established to assist low income and uninsured individuals. SJWS employees, doctors and volunteers donate time to assist in providing medical care at either North Coast Health Ministry or the Lorain County Free Clinic.

The hospital makes a monetary contribution in the name of the person who volunteers in the amount of $20 for every hour volunteered. To date, this has raised nearly $4,000.

Unicare Corp.

During the first eight months of 2002, Unicare Corp.'s Ohio operations impacted more than 13,500 individuals and their families by helping secure health care coverage for the uninsured or reducing liability for medical expenses.

Beyond that mission, in 1998 the organization helped patents in Ohio with needs such as food, medications, and housing and utility costs. In 1999, it received a Pillar Award for Community Service, and since then, the number of patients it has helped has grown steadily.

Unicare founded its Associate Volunteer Program in 1996 through its Community Outreach Initiative. In 1998, the program resulted in 350 work hours and 146 nonwork hours contributed to the community by 65 members of Unicare's Ohio-based staff. From 1999 to 2001, the average number of associates participating in the program grew to 83; the average annual number of work hours increased to 540, while the average number of nonwork hours leapt to 580.

Two years ago, Unicare implemented its Community Ambassador Award to honor employees' work in the community. Each year, up to five associates are awarded a plaque and Unicare makes a donation to a nonprofit organization of the employee's choice.