Philanthropy Friday: Giving Back at Firehouse Subs

Each Friday, the another jennifer blog shares stories of those who incorporate philanthropy into their everyday lives – personally and professionally – in a creative and unique way. If you have a story you’d like to share, please contact Jennifer.

Disclosure: My two boys and I received a free lunch from our local Firehouse Subs while we discussed the ways in which the company gives back. I had the Turkey Bacon Ranch sub, in case you were wondering, and it was really good. As per usual, all words and opinions expressed are my own. 

The counter at my local Firehouse Subs in Topsham, Maine.

The counter at my local Firehouse Subs in Topsham, Maine.

With more than 800 restaurants in 42 states and Puerto Rico, chances are you have heard of Firehouse Subs. They are the only sub shop around that steams their meats and cheeses, releasing a “rush of flavors” and serves them on a private recipe sub roll.

To be honest, I’m usually skeptical of chain restaurants, preferring to support a local eatery instead. However, I was recently invited to visit my local Firehouse Subs to learn more about what the company calls “the heart of their brand,” the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation. After reading about recent donations to a local technical school and fire department, I was intrigued.

Chris and Robin Sorensen, the co-founders of Firehouse Subs, founded the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. To date, the Foundation has donated more than $11 million to 790 public safety organizations across the country. I’m told more than $25,700 has been donated in the state of Maine.

According to the website:

I had a wonderful lunch with Dave Tucci, the local area representative for Firehouse Subs, his lovely daughter and my two boys. Dave’s wife and her parents also showed up at one point, making for a nice family meal on a school holiday.

Dave told me about the foundation and the different ways customers of Firehouse Subs can contribute to it when they visit the restaurant. He also told me that a local representative of Firehouse Subs, like himself, always meets with the fire chief in the town in which a new restaurant is to be opened. The goal for the franchise is to partner with people who have both restaurant experience and an intimate knowledge of the local community. 

One of my favorite things about Firehouse Subs is that you will always be greeted by someone at the counter when you walk through the door, even when it gets busy. Dave says they want everyone to feel like they are at home when they visit the restaurant.

Pickle buckets at Firehouse Subs cost just $2 and the money goes to their public safety foundation.

Pickle buckets at Firehouse Subs cost just $2 and the money goes to their public safety foundation.

There are several easy ways to give back when you eat at Firehouse Subs. You can drop your spare change into an acrylic canister (as you see in the second photo in this post). You can “round up” your purchase to the nearest dollar when you complete your sale. You can also purchase a recycled 5-gallon pickle bucket for $2, with proceeds going directly to the public safety foundation.

During the month of October, also Public Safety Month, customers can purchase a $1 or $5 medallion to support the foundation. Medallions (seen on display behind the pickle buckets above) are on display for the entire month.

The foundation has most certainly made an impact in Maine and around the country. Dave told me a story of how two employees of Firehouse Subs were in a bad accident that required the use of jaws of life equipment donated by their employer. Luckily, the employees were OK in the end. While Firehouse Subs is newer in the state of Maine, donations have been made in the past through a grant process.

You can read more about the local impact the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation has made on their website. Or visit their brand new interactive website that shows the lifecycle of a quarter when it is donated to the foundation.

How will you give back at Firehouse Subs?

Philanthropy Friday: O is for Opportunity

Each Friday, the another jennifer blog shares stories of those who incorporate philanthropy into their everyday lives – personally and professionally – in a creative and unique way. If you have a story you’d like to share, please contact Jennifer. You can view past posts from the series here.

Disclosure: I received four bottles of wine to aid in the writing of this post. I may or may not have done a happy dance with the UPS man when they arrived. As per usual, all words and opinions expressed are my own.

o wines

Stacy Lill and her brother were the first of their family to go to college. When she graduated from University of Washington, she worked in corporate sales and marketing for 20 years. During that time, she was also heavily involved with philanthropy work through the Junior League.

As the wife of the owner of a top winery in Washington, DeLille Cellars, Stacy observed how charities would often ask for donations of wine. She would also throw client appreciation events with high end wines in the corporate world. She came up with the idea of creating a wine that gave back to the community. But she didn’t want it to be just another label at her husband’s winery that donated proceeds to charity. She wanted to create her own brand.

Stacy researched what it would take to create her wine that would also give back. She learned that 72% of wine is purchased by women and that the most popular wine women bought was chardonnay. From her research, she decided to create wine for women that also helped women. Working with so many causes over the years, Stacy chose to support education because she felt it is the foundation for everything. If she could provide education to young women who might not otherwise have the chance to go to college, what could they do?

O Wines was established in 2006 with a mission to fund college scholarships for low income, capable young women so they can achieve their greatest potential through education. Each purchase helps send young women to college through the O Wines Opportunity for Success Scholarship program.

Since the introduction of the wines to the Pacific Northwest in 2008 followed by a nationwide launch in 2013, more than $300,000 has been raised to support 52 college scholarships. Beginning in 2013 each scholarship is $20,000 given in $5,000 increments annually over 4 years.  Most of the scholarship recipients are the first members of their families to attend college.

Over the phone, Stacy told me about Angel, the first recipient in the scholarship program. Angel had a very tough life and, like many of the scholarship recipients, had low income but high potential. Angel graduated with academic and leadership honors and is getting her master’s degree.

As for the wine, I can tell you it’s quite good. I’m a red wine drinker. I tend to prefer a nice full-bodied, dry wine. The red varietal didn’t disappoint. Stacy shared with me that her goal was to not only create a wine that gives back but that also has a flavor profile. I’d say she accomplished this goal. The wine is also quite affordable at $12 – $16 per bottle.

More on the red and white varietals:

OWN_Chard_NV_RGBOWN_Red_NV_RGBO Wines Chardonnay

  • O Wines 2011 Columbia Valley Chardonnay is a fresh and lively, lightly oaked style; its aromas of pear and baking spice pair well with grilled fish and mango salsa, and kale salad

O Wines Red Wine

  • O Wines 2010 Columbia Valley Red Blend is a delicious Washington fruit forward blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah; its aromas and flavors of blueberry jam, baking spice, cocoa and cherry, pair well with pizza, grilled burgers, or meat and veggie skewers

O Wines can be purchased at www.owines.com. You can also request O Wines wherever you purchase your wine.

Are you a wine drinker? Red or white?

Philanthropy Friday: My Day with PSI

Each Friday, the another jennifer blog shares stories of those who incorporate philanthropy into their everyday lives – personally and professionally – in a creative and unique way. If you have a story you’d like to share, please contact Jennifer. You can view past posts from the series here.

I’m sitting in my hotel room in Washington DC as I write this post, and my brain is fried. Fried in a good way because I got to geek out on development all day long with people who are passionate about global health.

I had a very full, wonderful day with PSI at their headquarters. As I explained last week, I won a trip to the nation’s capital in order to learn more about PSI’s work in global health.

psisign

This photo was taken at the end of my day spent with PSI. I’m not sure how I was still standing!

PSI’s mission is to make it “easier for people in the developing world to lead healthier lives and plan the families they desire by marketing affordable products and services.” They strive for pragmatism and have a strong focus on research and measurement.

Though PSI is well known in the development world, they are not an NGO that has a lot of name recognition with the general population. With a heavy focus on family planning, they have programs targeting malaria, child survival, HIV, reproductive health and non-communicable disease. They are probably most known for their work in contraception. Condoms, in particular. One of the presentations I experienced, called “Making Condoms Cool”, included a presentation of some of the condoms and marketing materials used to get high risk youth and adults to use contraception.

condoms psi

Condoms, coasters and literature about using contraception from PSI.

But PSI is much more than condoms and contraception. I also heard of how they are empowering youth to host radio shows that allow them to talk about sex while getting a public health message out in the discussion. They are working with health care workers to be more youth-friendly in order to help address their needs and not be judgmental of their actions. Social marketing campaigns are encouraging mothers in Pakistan to breast feed in the first hour to get the health benefits of colostrum.

Throughout the day, I received a pretty good overview of the state of global health and development in general. There was a lot of talk about the need for partnerships moving forward. To tackle the world’s problems and to get the funding to do so is going to require those in the private and public sector to work together.

I also had the opportunity to visit the USAID office for a presentation on PSI’s family planning programs in Madagascar (funded by USAID). There was talk about social franchising which works by “creating a network of health care providers that are contractually obligated to deliver specified services in accordance with franchise standards under a common brand.” This innovative approach helps address health problems more holistically and less vertically.

I had to go through two security checks and be escorted up to the USAID office.

I had to go through two security checks and be escorted up to the USAID office.

I had also had the opportunity to have a coffee with PSI’s President & CEO, Karl Hofmann. It was great to be able to just sit and have a discussion about development, PSI and life in general. My day ended with some potty talk around how PSI was addressing sanitation in Bihar, India.

Overall, I was impressed by PSI’s approach to global health using a marketing perspective. They are big on research, finding the right markets and measuring results. There was a lot of talk about keeping Sara healthy. Sara being the person they serve.

I learned a lot in my full day with PSI, and I hope this won’t be my last time visiting with them. As they told me from the beginning, their story is fascinating, but it’s a long and complicated one to tell.

What did you know about PSI before reading about them here? What do you want to know more about?

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