Have you ever donated a can of soup or a shiny new toy to a holiday collection drive? The moment that gift leaves your hand to join other items in the pile, you feel joyful at using your blessings to make someone else’s day brighter.
Made up of over 200 incredibly generous employees, Bozzuto Construction Company (BCC) is no stranger to this feeling. Over the past 30 years, BCC has shown an unwavering commitment to affordable housing, supporting organizations such as The Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing, Montgomery Housing Partnership, Wesley Housing, So Other Might Eat (SOME), the Women’s Housing Coalition and the Mission First Housing Group.
“On a business and individual level, our company and employees are incredibly active in supporting and working with organizations,” commented Kelly Cantley, Senior Vice President of Business Development. Cantley also shared that “We always try to think about how we can support, or work with, our partners and clients to create a combined greater good.”
In addition to the company’s charitable contributions, several BCC employees donate their time outside of work to associations who share similar missions and values. To learn more, we spoke with team members Dave Schorr, Senior Vice President of Accounting and Controller; Jim Marshiano, Senior Project Manager, and Nick Umosella, Project Manager about the causes they are passionate about.
What is your role/involvement with your respective organizations?
Dave: About 20 years ago, I joined UMAR to help get the program running. I’ve been an active member on their board ever since and regularly tutor the kids.
Jim: I have been an active member of the Franciscan Center for nearly 14 years and recently became a member of their advisory board.
Nick: I’m in my second year of serving on the Reading Partners advisory board in Baltimore. I am also the liaison between Reading Partners and Bozzuto’s involvement in their efforts.
Describe the mission of the organization you support.
Dave: UMAR is an after-school boxing and education program in a rough neighborhood in West Baltimore. Because most of the kids in our program don’t have one or more parents at home, we provide mentorship, teach them skills and promote self-confidence to affect how they think about positive, alternative paths for their lives.
Jim: The Franciscan Center provides compassionate and dignified assistance to those who are most vulnerable. Franciscan charisma is passed down from St. Francis of Assisi, who is known for giving away his material possessions to live a life of poverty amongst the poor.
Nick: Reading Partners helps improve the reading skills of Baltimore elementary students, specifically kindergarten to second-grade levels when they go from learning to read to reading to learn. Statistics show that children entering the third grade reading at the proper level have a much better chance of graduating high school and going to college or vocational schools, etc. Reading Partners has a hands-on approach, utilizing tutors who volunteer their help a few hours a week.
How did you originally get involved?
Dave: In 1997, there was an article in the Baltimore Sun about UMAR and its founder, Marvin McDowell, inviting the community to help start the organization. After my wife read it, knowing I was a boxing fan and had experience tutoring kids, she called Marvin saying, “My husband loves boxing and he’s going to help you out!” She then called me and said, “Dave, this guy wants you to come meet him.” So, she kind of orchestrated it, although I know I would have found my way to Marvin even if she hadn’t helped make the initial introduction.
Jim: My Aunt Irene founded the Franciscan Center in Baltimore in 1968. I’ve been involved since I learned how to tie my shoes, but I became more involved in 2005. My family continues the tradition and gives back to the center whenever possible.
Nick: I mentioned to Kelly Cantley that I was interested in serving on a nonprofit board and she helped introduce me to Reading Partners‘ Executive CEO. Once I learned exactly what and who they were, I knew I wanted to be involved.
What’s the most impactful experience you have had in spending time with these organizations?
Dave: There was a kid, Marcus Johnson. I’ll never forget him. He was killed within the first two months I started tutoring at UMAR. It happened right behind the gym. There was an article in the paper about it, which I saved to remind me why I help and why it’s important to have a safe haven for kids in Baltimore city. We’re changing the area and giving them something else to do rather than get mixed up in drugs and/or violence.
Jim: When I was younger, my aunt took an oath of poverty and gave all her birthday and Christmas gifts to the Franciscan Center patrons. Her humble commitment to her Catholic faith and the number of lives she positively impacted changed my life.
Nick: My favorite task as a board member is calling volunteers to thank them. I have not made a call to a volunteer that lasted less than 10 minutes. You can hear the genuine joy and love for teaching these kids in their voices.
How does it feel to see BCC have such a strong focus on giving back?
Dave: It makes me feel proud to be a part of Bozzuto. I know everybody in this company has a charitable mindset. It’s about creating positive momentum as we hire and meet people that are involved with charities. They become more charitable, and we continue to create that good momentum throughout the organization. I love it.
Jim: It’s a blessing working for a company that truly understands they have a responsibility to give back to the community. Toby Bozzuto; says our business is predicated on creating joy for our customers, clients and each other. We show the world that magnificent things can happen when people with diverse backgrounds and perspectives work together for good.
Nick: At the risk of sounding cliché, a lot of companies talk the talk, but Bozzuto walks the walk. They have supported my endeavor every step of the way.