‘40 Weeks of Giving’ shapes MacKay Sposito’s outreach

Local civil engineering firm celebrates 40th anniversary in 2015 with philanthropic initiative

MacKay Sposito

MacKay Sposito, a Vancouver-based consulting firm that specializes in energy, public works and land development, has helped to define and refine the regional landscape since 1974. Earlier this year, the company kicked off a celebration of its 40 years in business by giving back to the community for 40 straight weeks.

According to Senior Vice President Lisa Schauer, the ‘40 Weeks of Giving’ campaign began with a discussion about how to show gratitude to the communities that have supported them for more than four decades.

“The idea began when our public involvement and community engagement manager, Hollie Logan, expressed a desire to grant wishes,” recalled Schauer. “With that concept, they (the MacKay Sposito committee tasked with formulating the give-back plan) realized more benefit would come from spreading 40 smaller gifts among various groups in need.”

The company officially launched the 40-week-long philanthropic campaign in late January, with an event for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Benton and Franklin Counties in Southeast Washington; they presented the clubs with furnishings and funding to enhance their teen centers.

Each week since the January event, MacKay Sposito has steadily presented thoughtful and impactful gifts, valuing from $1,000 to $3,000 each, to various groups and deserving individuals. Each gift has been carefully examined by the MacKay Sposito committee.

Schauer said the committee identified three categories of giving to focus on: children, education and veterans.

“At first, there were some people who thought we would be inundated with a flood of requests,” she said. “They wondered how we could possibly place 40 gifts when there is so much need.”

Contrary to that notion, Schauer said, “We didn’t have to fight people off. We had to ask, we had to reach out in order to find out whom and how we could help.”

Bob Staples, MacKay Sposito’s communications manager, said the project “has been very good, overall, and sometimes challenging.”

Damon Webster, the company’s director of corporate stewardship, said that the gifts have been spread out across the greater region. He stressed the importance of making the philanthropic endeavor expansive in its reach, to match the regional footprint of MacKay Sposito.

“We gave some gifts to the Tri-Cities area and to the Northern Washington areas area because our company has a strong presence there,” he said.

Geographically speaking, the range of the 40 gifts spans the state of Washington from Kennewick, to Federal Way and to the Tri-Cities. It reached into Oregon as well, specifically to a veteran attending the Oregon Institute of Technology at Klamath Falls.

Several other scholars in need, public schools desperate for supplies, VFW Posts, individual veterans, student athletes and after-school programs, have all received gifts. Other gifts have gone to groups encouraging girls to pursue careers in science, and to Girl Scouts. Last month, the company presented a special computer to iTech Preparatory in Vancouver to help complete advanced student projects.

Schauer spoke of one meaningful gift to Terry Knight, a disabled army vet who needed a camper in order to transport his specialized chair. She said this gift in particular was received with deep, personal gratitude.

Webster said the company has also been reaching out with gifts to employees in the field. For example, one construction worker in the Tri-Cities area received a trip to Disneyland, which he, in turn, gave to his grandchildren.

“Those employees may never really see us here in these offices,” Webster said. “The gifts are a way of thanking the ones in the field doing the work, who may never meet us.”

To determine internal gifts, MacKay Sposito employees nominated employees. Schauer said that one employee received a trip to Hawaii, and that it was going to be her honeymoon.

“Our goal has been to create a fever of gratitude,” said Schauer. “We want to encourage other companies to create their own pattern of giving back, in expressions of gratitude to the communities.”

Between the external gifts and the internal gifts (which have included things like gift cards, performance tickets, vacations and white water rafting tours) the company has doled out 80 gifts of gratitude for 40 years of service.

All 80 gifts, both external and internal, are described on the company’s Facebook page.

MacKay Sposito
Founded 1974 www.mackaysposito.com