Turning An Anniversary Into a Year of Giving Back

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When planning Katz, Sapper & Miller’s (KSM) 75th anniversary, we wanted to do more than  celebrate a milestone: we wanted to do something that reflected our philanthropic culture and honored the life of our founder, the late Irv Katz, who was revered as much for his community support as for his legendary advice, counsel, and expertise.

Since 2009 KSM has participated in an annual firm-wide day of service, engaging our 400 employees to volunteer at community organizations. But our 75th anniversary warranted going a step beyond that. We thought a fitting tribute, in honor of Mr. Katz’s legacy, would be to make the year not about us and our growth, but about the communities we serve.

First, we felt it was important to establish a tangible and lasting reminder of the rich histories of our two Indiana offices, Indianapolis and Fort Wayne. In Indianapolis, KSM underwrote the refurbishment of the historic Indianapolis City Market Clock, a 19th century timepiece that was originally installed at the market in 1977. KSM’s contributions helped to not only refurbish the clock itself but provided funds for its continued maintenance in the years to come.

To honor the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis Central Library’s original downtown building, KSM worked with library officials on the creation of a centennial exhibit. The permanent 16-panel installation, which tells the story of the library’s history, will be a lasting reminder of the library’s importance to the community.

In Fort Wayne, KSM has plans to support the riverfront redevelopment plan. Seeking to revitalize and renew the public areas surrounding the convergence of the city’s three main rivers, the initiative will preserve the cultural history while restoring the waterfront as a community meeting place.

Second, we wanted our employees to participate not only with their volunteer time but with financial contributions. Created this year, KSM’s Pay It Forward program was a way for our employees to support the needs of the numerous not-for-profit organizations in our communities that are continually helping others. The program offered two ways for KSM team members to get involved – giving every employee $75 to pay it forward to the not-for-profit organization of their choice and providing company time to spend volunteering in the community.

More than 70 not-for-profit organizations, including schools, food pantries, recovery centers, animal shelters, homeless centers, therapy facilities, and more, received the support they needed as KSM team members made donations and spent time giving back.

When Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, the need for disaster relief became another opportunity to give back. For one week in September, the firm matched all Pay It Forward program giving with a dollar-for-dollar donation to the American Red Cross. In addition to donating thousands of dollars for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, KSM continued to give back by purchasing winter clothing and personal care items for the Julian Center, the largest domestic and sexual violence support agency in Indiana.

As our 75th anniversary year draws to a close, our commitment to our friends and neighbors will persist into the future – not only because it is the right thing to do but because it honors the vision of our founder, linking us firmly to our communities and the people who work and live in them.

David Resnick is the managing partner of Katz, Sapper & Miller.

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