Franklin Street was honored at the Jacksonville Business Journal 2017 Partners in Philanthropy Awards luncheon. Franklin Street’s Yvonne Baker, Regional Managing Partner for Jacksonville and Orlando, discussed the commercial real estate firm’s corporate philanthropy program in an interview.
Tell us about a time when your charitable involvement – donations or activities – had an impact on a person or group that has stuck with you?
Many years ago, I was volunteering as a troop leader and service unit leader for Girl Scouts of Central Florida when a young Girl Scout told our volunteers something that has stuck with me since. We organized the annual Camporee, a two-day, two-night camping adventure for Girl Scouts. This themed event included activities, education and play for about 200 girls from our area and took a team of volunteers to make it a success.
As we were packing up for the end of the weekend and getting ready to depart, a 6-year-old camper came up to me and hugged me tightly and said she didn’t want to leave, that this was the best weekend of her life. With all the other entertainment and play options in Central Florida, this young child said a Girl Scout Camporee was her best weekend ever. I think about that moment almost every time I am volunteering. It’s the reason we volunteer, it’s what makes participation rewarding.
Explain why you think it’s important for a business organization to be involved in charitable activities?
Franklin Street is dedicated to the communities where we live and work. Philanthropy teaches our teams many lessons and values they cannot learn in the office and opens their eyes to segments of our communities not all businesspeople are exposed to. It is important to us to develop as partners in our communities, not just one-dimensional, business focused real estate professionals. We support and encourage philanthropy in the form of giving of time and talent as well as funds. We also partner with local community organizations for our corporate wellness and team building events.
What philanthropic or nonprofit need do you see as most pressing for the community to deal with and why?
We continue to be interested in charities, activities and organization that fulfill an important need in our community, especially with our underserved populations. These may not be the glitziest gala projects or the efforts that land in the newspaper. Neglected populations – teens are a good example – need our support and
appreciate the help. Through Daniel Kids, we are participating in the success of their kids through mentoring, spending time with them and supporting them. Our brokers and staff are engaged on an ongoing basis in more ways than just raising funds. While funding is important, volunteerism and making real connections is more
valuable to us than just handing out services or donations.
Roughly how much has your organization donated to Jacksonville-area nonprofits in 2016?
The North Florida office of Franklin Street has raised more than $3,000 for the organization in the past and are closing out 2017 fundraising efforts that will total more than $6,000, bringing the 2016-2017 total to nearly $10,000.