With Philanthropy as a Core Value, Club Phil is How Bhavans Give Back

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By Rhiannon PachecoApril 25, 2018

Not long ago, I was sitting on the Bhava HQ balcony chatting with Liz (our founder and CEO) about our philanthropy efforts. “Bhava’s culture has always fostered a giving mindset,” she said. “Philanthropy is a core part of our company culture. We build positive relationships and contribute to the world not only through our client work, but also through sharing our time and resources with our local communities.”

As a relatively recent addition to the Bhava team, I soon realized that philanthropy is important to the company. Not only do Bhavans live out our values with our clients, but we also share our efforts and energy with the surrounding community. In 2009, Club Phil(anthropy) was founded, formalizing the agency’s philanthropic efforts to bring Bhavans together around a variety of causes, ranging from book drives for prisoners to mentoring at-risk youth. Last year was a banner year for Club Phil: we contributed to eight different nonprofit organizations, donating many hours of Bhavan time and raising money and goods for charitable causes.

During the first quarter of 2017, Bhavans focused their energy on the Prisoners Literature Project (PLP).

• This long-standing nonprofit group provides free books to prisoners across the country. The group believes everyone—regardless of  situation—should have the right to read and the resources to educate themselves.

• Across America, many obstacles stand in the way of prisoners’ access to books: most of them cannot order books online, don’t have the money or  have no one to send books to them. So Bhavans scoured their bookshelves, purchased new books, and also donated money to help PLP pay for postage and mailing supplies. A group of us also volunteered our time to package and sort books at PLP’s Berkeley office.

In our second event of the year, we worked with Leadership Public Schools in Oakland to help tackle the widening disconnect between the school curriculum and the real-world skills needed in today’s job market.

• The Harvard Business School has called the lack of connection between school content and job training requirements the silent epidemic that will significantly impact US economic health.

• Bhavans wanted to do something about this growing problem in our community, so we hosted a group of inner-city high school juniors, coaching them on professional presence, interviewing skills, how to write a resume and how to write a public relations pitch. We hope we inspired some future Bhavans!

The summer quarter had Bhavans channeling their energy creatively in a birthday card-making activity for ill children with Send a Smile 4 Kids and physically in the 2017 Giant Race.

• In August, a group of Bhavans raced their way down the Embarcadero in the Half Marathon/10K/5K run/walk to raise funds for Team in Training (Leukemia and Lymphoma Society), Project Open Hand and the San Francisco Presidio. The race culminated with Bhavans on the field in AT&T Park decked out in their Giants gear.

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The final quarter of 2017 was our busiest with the addition of our Austin-based team’s efforts that kicked off in November when they volunteered at The Central Texas Food Bank‘s garden.

• This garden serves as a replicable model of sustainable growing practices and teaches clients the importance of healthy eating and physical activity. Bhavans helped pull weeds in the garden and tied growing berry vines to stakes.

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Our next event helped those affected by the series of 17 named storms that made the 2017 hurricane season the most expensive in U.S. history. The deadly and destructive trio of of Harvey, Irma and Maria and other storms left thousands of people without food, shelter and other basic necessities and caused more than $200 billion in damages.

• Bhavans at Emeryville HQ showcased their philanthropic spirit (and bartending skills) at a Happy Hour Hurricane Relief Benefit at Sideshow Kitchen, which raised $1,820 for Direct Relief, UNICEF and the Houston Food Bank.

• A bit closer to home, Bhavans helped address the food insecurity affecting 1 in 7 people in (14.3% of the 1,647,704 people) in Alameda County through a successful canned food drive, for the Alameda County Community Food Bank, collecting and delivering more than 65 pounds of cans.

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In December, the Austin team worked in the Salvation Army‘s warehouse sorting and stocking toys and clothing. The team also sponsored and bought toys and clothing for a two-year-old who either lived in the one of the organization’s shelters or came from a low-income family.

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Bhava HQ rounded out the year with an opportunity to share some holiday cheer by participating in the Adopt-A-Family Holiday Gift Program. We bought educational games, cool Warriors T-shirts, warm sweatshirts, jackets and more for a family in need of a little holiday help. We gift wrapped and dropped them off at Alameda County Social Services in plenty of time for Santa to place them under the tree.

We’re grateful we were able to give back to the community we love. Club Phil is off to a strong start in 2018. Check back in soon for our upcoming blog post on what we’ve been up to so far this year!

Outside the office, you'll find Rhiannon -- a former NCAA D1 rower -- hiking in the Marin headlands, or cooking up a storm in the kitchen with new, healthy ingredients discovered at the farmer's market.
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