Community service isn’t simply philanthropic lip service, it’s a way of life. So much so, that when prospective employees are interviewed for jobs at Sentinel Consumer Products Inc., they are given a packet of materials that illustrates the company’s commitment to giving back.
“They know how important it is to us and how much a part it is of our culture,” says Michael Klein, president of the 95-year-old Mentor-based manufacturer of health and beauty care products. “There are a lot of companies that give money. That is a lot easier to do than to give the energy and the time and to go through the various mental processes involved that really allow your employees to get involved.”
For Klein, it’s the difference between giving money to Meals-on-Wheels and actually delivering the meals. The money is important, but taking the meals to recipients creates additional commitments that other companies simply don’t make.
To help facilitate and coordinate the enormous philanthropic output, Sentinel created Senti-Cause, a committee of people from all departments which meets twice a month to explore philanthropic opportunities.
Like many other organizations, Sentinel began its good deeds around the holiday season: it provides food baskets to feed more than 1,000 people at Thanksgiving and Christmas. The holidays also have Sentinel employees involved with the Special Immunology Unit of Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital. Sentinel has donated a television and VCR, decorated Christmas trees and shopped for as many as 50 children at the hospital.
“I think that when you think about the good that we do in that singular moment that sticks out most in our minds,” Klein says. “We’re dealing with children that have an incredible amount of courage. It really feels very, very good to be able to be a part of something that makes them feel, at least for a moment, very, very good.”
The company’s first involvement, nearly 20 years ago, was to sponsor a holiday party for mentally disabled children. Explains Klein, “I went to the party and I watched everybody’s reaction. It was not easy. When you’re not exposed to these kinds of situations, they’re not easy to deal with.”
By making involvement part of the company culture and by providing employees with these experiences, Sentinel ensures employees have opportunities to involve themselves in philanthropy from January to October. The company sponsors a regional basketball tournament for the Special Olympics and regularly participates in Children International, which sponsors needy children in Third World countries.
Employees also get involved in yearly trash cleanup at one of Mentor’s parks.
The Senti-Cause mission is simple: “To directly reach as many individuals, families and groups in need with as much charitable assistance as time and funds allow.”
The list of the company’s “almost daily” involvement goes on and on, Klein says. He wasn’t surprised when he received notification that his company was named a winner of the Medical Mutual Pillar Award for Community Service.
“I thought we deserved it,” he says. “There’s nobody more deserving than this company.”
How to reach: Sentinel Consumer Products Inc., (440) 974-8144
Dan Jacobs (email@example.com) is senior editor at SBN.