A Different Point Of View
By David Lopez
Art by Sarah Augsbach
With great success brings more opportunity to give back to the community.
Since its inception, Professional Retail Services (PRS), which would be later followed by Retail Security Services (RSS) and Retail Mechanical Services (RMS) respectively, has found incredible success in servicing the best of nearly every facet of the trade business. By providing excellent facility maintenance and security services, all three companies have solidified their names as leaders of their specific retail industries over the past 19 years. As the old proverb goes, “With great power, comes great responsibility,” and PRS, RSS, and RMS (or for the sake of this article, “the big three”) have spun the quote into their own motto. The new motto, “With great success brings more opportunity to give back to the community,” has become a rallying cry when the chance to give back presents itself.
It is with this thought that the three companies consistently come together and bring committed, well-prepared and successful events that bring positive rippling effects through some of our most struggling communities. The planning of these events is just as involved as scouring over the companies’ quarterly and year-end numbers. These sessions begin at roundtable meetings with upper management, supervisors and creative company employees to brainstorm and think outside the box. The goal is simple and never changes: to search for new and different ways to succeed while quickly and directly touching the lives of as many people and families as possible.
Teams of employees volunteer their time and money to get on board with a very generous upper management team to make magic happen. One initiative the big three are currently preparing (now that the calendar has turned the page to November) is to once again get involved in their annual “Gobble, Gobble Give or Helpful Hands” program. The initiative is to give as many families as possible a full Thanksgiving dinner to prepare and cook with their family and friends in the comfort of their respective homes. CEO Kathleen Larmour receives a list of families that can benefit from the Family Service League. She then purchases a set amount of turkeys based on the information that she receives. Company employees then donate anything from stuffing to rice, cornbread, instant potatoes, cranberry sauce, canned vegetables and everything in between. At this point, baskets are put together while keeping in mind that each family gets an equal and ample amount to feed an entire room of family and friends. Every year, the amount of turkey dinner donations increase. This year’s goal is to feed an awesome 40 families!
Another program that the big three have been known to get largely behind (and possibly their most successful initiative to date) is their annual School Supply Drive. A few years ago, the big three joined forces with one of their most seasoned employees, Joseph McLeer, who had been running this drive year earlier from his apartment. In joining forces, the idea was to build a program that would ensure every child in need from the William Floyd School district and the Help Suffolk Shelter would get the tools they need to succeed. Headed into the new school year, it is no secret that the most prepared kids always get off to the best starts, so it was a bit of a no-brainer that the big three would get involved in such a noble program. Coming together and wanting to give this kind of opportunity to as many children as they could reach, it was easily decided that every child deserved to start the new school year off the same way, across the board.
Backpacks, notebooks, folders, pencils, pens, markers, crayons, glue sticks, pencil cases and everything in between are donated by company employees, families, friends and various donors. This drive (now on its impressive 5th year), usually turns a fourth of the office into a virtual school store of donations through the end of the year. McLeer (Vendor Relations) created the initiative after becoming more involved in the community and originally took this as a personal mission to do something to help his community through the program Momentum Education. His idea to involve the three companies acted as a lightning rod to become the movement it is today, catapulting the program to incredible success and more than quadrupling the number of donations.
“I started this as a service project five years ago when I did a Leadership program. I never actually had any plans to do it ever again after that initial one, but a lot of people were asking me when they could donate again. So I figured it would be a missed opportunity if people are so willing to participate. I joined forces with PRS in the 3rd year because I wanted to make it bigger and knew that involving the companies was the best way to do that. I divide the supplies between two places, William Floyd School District and HELP Suffolk.” “
– Joseph McLeer, Vendor Relations
This, of course, just scratches the surface of what the big three do to give back. To honestly explain every program or initiative that the companies get behind would take a small novel. Instead, for this article, let’s take a more in-depth look at a few more company actions, highlighting some of the more successful initiatives and what this incredible group continues to put together… for the good of the community.
During the holidays, an Angel Tree is constructed in the PRS office with the wishes of many underprivileged kids hanging off tree branches in envelopes. Employees will take a card, purchase the item, and return it to be collected by a representative of the toy drive. From there, the gift will be wrapped and dispersed to the correct child, granting their holiday wish. If employees choose to give more, a separate collection box is also set up for extra donations. Previously, keeping in the spirit of Christmas, the big three also came together to donate 25 Christmas trees, tree stands and all the decorations that are needed to bring the holidays to those who may not have been able to afford one.
This past spring/summer, the big three also came together to pay their respects to our fallen heroes. They placed American flags on every military tombstone at the Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Medford, New York, for the Memorial Day weekend. One month later, the companies came together again, this time in teams of three, to supply and make over 1,200 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that were donated to Help Suffolk shelter in Bellport, NY. This organization is a 76-unit traditional housing facility that benefits everyone from the homeless & less fortunate to women & children who are victims of domestic abuse.
“I truly enjoy running and implementing the PB&J drive.
This is able to provide parents & children with a meal they might not have received before. Who doesn’t love a good peanut butter and jelly sandwich? We have outreach from family and friends who do not work here but wanted to contribute either
their time, money, or supplies.“
– Danielle Procida, Director of Finance
PRS, RSS, and RMS, extremely military-friendly (hence the previous discussed American Flag Project) have been involved in multiple drives to benefit our soldiers overseas as well as those who are home. In the past, the companies have put together care packages for soldiers that are being deployed, Easter presents for local servicemen and women who are overseas, as well as handwritten letters and drawn out pictures by employees and their kids to send along with Christmas cards for our overseas military branches. The goal set for this year’s card drive will be 500 cards, which the company will absolutely eclipse.
Other programs and initiatives that the three companies have started, partnered with, and/or donated to include clothing drives for Help Suffolk, the Giuliana Collins Cancer drive, blankets and bedding donations for local animal and rescue shelters (Friends of Freddie Rescue Brookhaven Animal Shelter), Thursday’s Child (AIDS/HIV), and reading to kids/cleaning products. They also include over 100,000 families in our area that suffer from the illness, the Long Island Blue Star Moms, Bowl-A-Thon for homeless children, and many more.
We would be remiss not to mention the hard work of one Jeanne Cartisano. She is a Social Worker for the aforementioned William Floyd School District and has been an incredible ally for many of the companies’ drives and programs. Sister of CEO Kathleen Larmour, Cartisano continues to assist the big three in finding different avenues to maximize the recipients of the many company donations. The three companies are eternally grateful for the help and assistance she has been able to provide.
Finally, with all of these unbelievable and selfless charities and initiatives that the companies get involved in, it would be easy for them to overlook some of their employees from time to time. However, that is not the case here. PRS, RSS, and RMS have made many donations, kick-starters, and loans and given overall help to many employees who have found themselves dealing with difficult times. Whether these difficult times have involved bereavement, sick employees or family members, disabilities, mental health issues or other unnamed issues, the big three have been there to aid their people. These companies take Employee Action very seriously, and giving back (even if it has been a little) has meant the world to those who have struggled under the very same roof.
So, with everything the companies have done and keep doing, what does the future look like for Professional Retail Services, Retail Security Services, and Retail Mechanical Services with respect to giving back to the community?
“My heart is beaming with love and thankfulness. I truly believe that there is enough food in this world that no one should ever be hungry. People like you guys give me hope that we can get to a point for that to happen.”
– Kathleen Larmour, CEO