For 90 years, Hannis T. Bourgeois, LLP has been involved in a multitude of philanthropic endeavors and has quietly left its mark on a wide assortment of non-profit organizations. To commemorate its 90th anniversary, HTB closed all three of its offices, Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Denham Springs, for a “Day of Caring”– to give back to the communities that have contributed to its growth and success over the past 90 years. The staff of 100+ employees devoted 900+ man hours working on various projects in the three communities. The Baton Rouge office worked with St. Vincent de Paul—Sweet Dream Shelter, Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank, Junior Achievement and Habitat for Humanity of Greater Baton Rouge. The New Orleans office was involved with the New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity, and the Denham Springs office chose to work with Mighty Moms. All levels of staff worked in teams at these organizations. Managing partner, Monica Zumo, was swinging a hammer along with all of her teammates. As one staff member noted, “All of the various departments at the firm had an opportunity to come together and bond with one another while serving great causes.”
Homeless mothers and children desperately need a place to call home, somewhere clean and safe, a place where a mother can tuck her child at night and sleep without fear. In response to the needs of homeless women and children in our community, St. Vincent de Paul operates the Sweet Dreams Shelter for Women & Children. The group that worked with St. Vincent de Paul painted room in the Sweet Dreams Shelter. Staff member, Tammie Faul, observed, “I absolutely hate painting, and I think that’s why I chose to work at the Shelter. I felt like it was something that I was doing with my heart, and that’s exactly what it was.” A member of this group summed up the feelings of the entire team, “We transformed these room from a faded pink color to an uplifting bright blue. Our HTB team is hoping that by our help today, painting and sprucing up the Sweet Dreams Shelter, that we can be a small part of the miracle that helps these homeless women and children move forward with their lives and improve their circumstances.”
Another HTB group volunteered at the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank. The mission of the Food Bank is to feed the hungry in Baton Rouge and the surrounding parishes by providing food and educational outreach through faith-based and other community partners. In 2013, they distributed more than 9.6 million meals, and they provide food to more than 130 agencies. The HTB team put together approximately 1700 “Make Someone Happy” food packets for the hungry. As former managing partner, Randy Bonnecaze, noted, “Working at the Food Bank gave each of us a great feeling to be giving back in a small way to our community that has been so good to us for over 90 years.” Team leader, Tammy McDavid, observed that “it was a good feeling to physically help out verses merely writing a check. Many times we forget how many truly needy people there are in our community.”
The Denham Springs office chose to work with Mighty Moms which is an organization that distributes bags of food before the weekend to those children whose only nourishing meals are the ones from the school cafeteria. Currently, they provide meals for the weekend to 382 kids in 25 schools in Livingston Parish. Every 4-6 weeks, they also provide hygiene care packets to these children. The Denham Springs HTB office teamed together to raise over $600 to purchase food items to be include in “Full Tummy” bags and spent the day packaging 900 of the bags at the Mighty Moms’ headquarters. The mission of Mighty Moms touched HTB staff member, Nikki Biggs, in a personal way, “I was extremely surprised that there are 26 children at my daughters’ school who are aided on the weekends by the Mighty Moms. I was grateful to be able to help in a small way some of my daughters’ classmates as well as other needy children in the Livingston Parish school system.” Dawn Birdsong, founder of Mighty Moms, voiced thanks to the Denham Springs HTB office for “sharing the burden of feeding the hungry with us.”
Another HTB volunteer group worked with Junior Achievement in their “JA in a Day program.” Classes were taught to students in grades 3-5 in various schools in the area. These classes centered around financial literacy, the global economy, and becoming job ready. Several members of this HTB volunteer team were involved in the “Our Nation” program which explains to students, through interactive tasks, the importance of job skills in today’s world and also shows the children what job skills are necessary for certain jobs. Communication in the workplace, whether within the company or outside, was a focus of the program. The HTB teaching group found the children very responsive and the sessions extremely rewarding.
Two other HTB groups worked with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Baton Rouge and the New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity. Habitat for Humanity is a Christian-based ministry that builds and finances new, safe affordable homes in partnership with hard working, low-income families in the community. They provide opportunities for families in need to realize their dreams of homeownership, build community and improve their lives. The homeowner of one of the houses that the HTB team worked on told the group that “God has blessed me by bringing people like you into my life.” This homeowner was required to spend 100 hours working on the house; however, she had exceeded 225 hours and intended to put in more hours. As she pointed out “I’m not gonna sit back and let other people finish my house.” HTB partner Debra Whitt’s memory of the service day was that “it was exhilarating to see our group of unskilled construction workers, whose main focus was accounting, being part of the sweat equity of building a home, from installing windows, flooring, and siding—working side by side with the staff from Habitat and the future owner of the home. In the future, as I drive by the home, I will remember that sunny day and the smiling faces of my coworkers as well as HTB’s gift of service to the community.”