Helping to change children’s lives
CCA Global Partners ‘big’ brothers and sisters mentor kids right at the office
At 3:10 on a Monday afternoon, a shiny bus with a uniformed chauffeur pulls up to CCA Global Partners in Manchester’s Millyard. A small crowd has assembled in anticipation, and necks are craned to get the first glimpse of the VIPs coming off the bus.
These VIPs are all about 10 years old. They are the “little” sisters and brothers of CCA Global employees CEO Howard Brodsky among them — coming to spend the afternoon, on company time, with their “big” brothers and sisters.
They spill down the steps in a riot of brightly colored backpacks and are enveloped in a chorus of greetings and hugs.
This scene plays out every other Monday afternoon. CCA Global gives its employees time, during the work day, to mentor kids. It is one of the many ways the company gives to its community.
“Kids need somebody in their corner, somebody they can trust,” said Brodsky. “This, sometimes, is their one consistent relationship.”
Most of these Littles go to the Henry Wilson School, where almost 90 percent of students qualify for free and reduced-price lunch. The first thing they do when they arrive at CCA Global is tuck into a buffet of sandwich wraps (ham and turkey), fresh carrots and cucumbers and chips, with fresh fruit salad with whipped cream for dessert. (Joan Brodsky, who serves as vice president of the Big Brothers Big Sisters board, was the driving force behind the addition of a nutritious after-school meal for the kids.) Many children leave with extra food to take home.
At a table in the corner, Lyndsay Wornham, a millennial business consultant, is sitting with 11-year-old Autumn, going over the day. Later, they’ll work on Autumn’s homework and talk.
“This is a great opportunity to be an empowering force in her life,” Wornham says. “That is another one of the very cool perks of an innovative and cool company.”
Joan Brodsky points out the statistics: children with Big Brothers and Big Sisters do better in school and are far less likely to drop out, they are far less likely to use drugs and alcohol, and they have more successful relationships.
CCA’s program helps its employees try out mentoring for the first time — without putting demands on their already-busy after-work hours. Many go on to become “community” mentors, meaning they also spend time with their Littles outside work. Each match is carefully paired and overseen by BBBS.
Brodsky and his wife Joan co-mentor Luis, a bright-eyed 11-year-old who does well in school, loves mac and cheese and is looking forward to baseball season. Luis is Howard’s second Little brother. (His first, Joshua, was 8 when Howard met him and is now married with his own family and still in touch with the Brodskys.) Luis makes himself at home behind Howard’s desk (and calls Eichhorn’s extension and announces, impishly, that he has been promoted).
‘Capitalism with a conscience’
Gregg Burdett, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters, says programs like CCA’s “provide at-risk youth with an amazing opportunity” to experience life in the workplace. Kids learn, first-hand, about the value of education and the possibilities in the world of work.
BBBS has a similar program with Comcast and is launching another this fall with Northeast Delta Dental.
“This builds a culture where everyone knows that we care about people in our community, and that people come first,” Brodsky says. “It’s capitalism with a conscience.”
CCA has folded other businesses into the partnership. The bus comes courtesy of Grace Limousine. At Thanksgiving, Market Basket helped to supply and deliver holiday meals to all the Littles’ families.
Brodsky encourages other businesses to think about creative partnerships with nonprofits, since they contribute to New Hampshire’s quality of life in countless ways, thus directly supporting companies’ ability to recruit and retain great talent.
Brodsky encourages other business leaders to pick something they are passionate about, find a nonprofit working on it, and find out how to become intimately involved — in addition to offering financial support.
“I want our people to be empowered that they are making a big difference,” Brodsky says.
Lois Shea is staff writer for the NH Charitable Foundation. Greater Giving is a regular series produced by the NH Charitable Foundation in partnership with NH Business Review aimed at helping to promote a culture of giving in New Hampshire’s business community. To learn more, please contact Richard Peck, vice president for philanthropy at the NH Charitable Foundation, 800-464-6641 ext. 265 or at Richard.Peck@nhcf.org.