Food for thought

Never let it be said that the employees at Westlake-based Shamrock Companies Inc. don’t enjoy a good meal. Cookouts, cookbooks and bake sales all helped the company raise thousands of dollars this past year to help needy organizations and local community groups.

The marketing communications and project management firm only started its philanthropic activities in June 2000, but has raised more than $22,000 among its 60 employees at its headquarters and 30 other employees around the Midwest.

But cutting a check is not the only way the company pays back, says Don Schenkenberger, president of Shamrock Companies Inc. Of the 25 organizations supported by the company over the last year, 15 contributions involved employee volunteer hours and activities.

“Our employees want to pay back, and that’s one of the values that we established here at Shamrock,” Schenkenberger says. “Paying back, which means getting involved in our community and actively helping to improve the life of people in our community and making a difference.”

Shamrock’s efforts, which earned the company a 2001 Pillar Award for Community Service, support well-known national organizations including the United Way and Junior Achievement, but also smaller, local groups. Shamrock employees donated marketing designs and materials to Celebrate Westlake and Our Lady of the Wayside, a nonprofit group which operates homes for physically and mentally challenged adults and children.

For Our Lady of the Wayside, based in Avon, Shamrock employees held a cake and pie auction for its employees, customers, vendors, friends and family. At the one-day event, employees built an auction block in the fulfillment center at Shamrock’s offices and auctioned 63 cakes and pies, raising $4,325. It was just one of several food-oriented fund-raisers Shamrock employees have championed over the past 12 months.

For the United Way, Shamrock’s community outreach group, called the Involvement Committee, compiled a cookbook of recipes submitted by employees and their spouses. The idea was a natural fit for Shamrock, says Dale Masino, Shamrock’s human resources vice president and Involvement Committee organizer.

“We were able to put together the book very economically using our own equipment,” he says. “We turned out a significant hardbound cookbook that we sold to employees and our sales consultants gave to clients.”

The cookbook raised $2,000 for United Way, and a bake sale raised another $285.

“I told our United Way rep, ‘Our folks sure like to eat,'” Masino says with a chuckle. “Wherever there’s food, people will spend some money.”

Schenkenberger was pleasantly surprised by the overwhelming employee response to the charitable activities. Since it was the Involvement Committee’s first year, there were no expectations and no rigid guidelines for how the group would operate. Masino simply sent out a memo to employees describing the committee he wanted to form and hoped for the best. The employees took over from there.

“It’s been tremendous,” Schenkenberger says. “We feel very fortunate to be a part of the Greater Cleveland community. It’s a value we all personally believe in, and it’s become a value of our corporation.

“Our employees have really stepped up.” How to reach: The Shamrock Companies Inc., (440) 899-9510

Morgan Lewis Jr. ([email protected]) is senior reporter at SBN Magazine.