Chapter participation with #SMPSGivesBack is still going strong. In addition to SMPS Greater Cincinnati, we recently sat down with Perryn Olson, chapter president of SMPS Southeast Louisiana, who shared news about his chapter’s volunteer activities within the community.
SMPS: What’s new with volunteer efforts at SMPS Southeast Louisiana?
Perryn: We just started giving back in 2014-15, so this is only our second year doing any type of charity. From the start, we knew we wanted more of a partnership than just one event, so we chose one organization for an entire year.
SMPS: What organizations did you choose?
Perryn: We look for opportunities to help in three ways: give items such as a drive, donate money, and to volunteer time. Last year, we adopted the Metropolitan Center for Women and Children. This year, we choose the Boy & Girls Clubs of Southeast Louisiana because we can impact our future and be more proactive in shaping our community and educate them on the A/E/C industry.
SMPS: Why is SMPS Gives Back important to you?
Perryn: We are stewards of our community and as marketers and business developers, we put others first. This is one of the reasons why SMPS is special. Our members care about each other, even as competitors. Giving back also has a business side to it. Our industry faces a long-term worker shortage, so we have to educate today’s youth about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and the value of the trades. Volunteering and rallying for a common cause is also a great way to get to know your fellow SMPS members and become friends, not just colleagues.
SMPS: Could you provide some examples of charitable ideas for chapters looking for ways to help but don’t know where to start?
Perryn: Our first year, we winged it and the board led by example. We love the variety of ways to help. We’ve had drives for everything from art supplies to bedding. Something surprising we learned about the Boys & Girls Clubs is that they are donated thousands of dollars of goods like basketballs, markers, and electronics, but they have to cover the cost of shipping. Our financial donations, even if only a few hundred dollars, can get them these items.
SMPS: If a member said, “I don’t really have time to get involved; I’m just too busy,” what would you say?
Perryn: Do what you can. Empty out a closet; donate your child’s unused toys; write a check. We even had a member who donated gift cards she received for Christmas because the organization could include it in a raffle or door prize for one of their events. Last year, a dozen SMPS members and their families went to a Pelicans basketball game and the proceeds went to our charity. As an organization, get creative and have fun with it.
Is your chapter involved in the community? If so, make sure to share the news through social media by using #SMPSgivesback.