November is a month we associate with giving and thanks. Giving back to the community has always been important to Sheldon Stewart, so we took some time to catch up with him and find out why.
Why is giving back important to you?
Maybe because I grew up here, I feel vested in the community. And after 33 years in business, I don’t think it matters how successful you are, or how much money you make. Sometimes I think you just want to feel that you’re doing something outside of your daily business activities that makes a difference to the people around you.
How did your company start giving back?
We started out by doing a lot of trade. We helped people who needed it – and they helped us, too. But over time, I guess I developed this mindset that we can give to worthy organizations without necessarily having to get anything back.
There are so many worthwhile nonprofits and causes on the Cape. How do you decide who to support?
The Cape and Islands United Way does help us vet some of that. Since 2015, Stewart Painting has given $10 from each power wash to the United Way, in an attempt to help donations go even further. And there are dozens of other nonprofits we support. We do have to say no sometimes, but we always consider every request. We discuss it, and decide if it’s something we can add to the next year’s budget. And when causes pop up, we sometimes make adjustments to accommodate them right away.
Can you give an example?
We are sponsoring a spotlight for The Family Pantry in this year’s Cape and Plymouth Business Giving Guide. We hadn’t planned on it, but we believe strongly in their mission and what they do, and wanted to help bring more attention and awareness to the organization. Also, for the rest of this year, Stewart Painting is a drop off location for the Family Pantry’s Toy Drive; you can drop off a new, unwrapped (non-violent please) toy at our office for a needy child at our offices at 379R Iyannough Road in Hyannis (behind Kent’s Carpertland). In 2018, we will continue to be a year-round drop off location for non-perishable food items. We really felt we wanted to do more for this organization that provides help to all of our neighbors across the entire Cape.
Why do you think it’s important to give back from your business, as opposed to personal charitable giving?
The business allows me more opportunity to donate and make a difference. We are an employee-based painting company (as opposed to most, who primarily use subcontractors), so as far as resources go, labor is something I have to give. I try to find other local businesses that understand and can benefit from that. We’re not always so cash rich that we can give monetary gifts, so we give our services as a way of helping out.
Do your employees donate their time to provide these services?
We don’t ask our employees to donate their time, except for a couple of hours a year to set up for Pops by the Sea. For any other services we give (such as “Painter for a Day,” which is a great auction item), I pay my employees for the time they spend fulfilling the donation.
You seem to spend a fair amount of time educating your employees about the importance of giving back. Why?
We do talk about giving back to the community a lot. It’s part of our mission statement, and we discuss it in our monthly training and safety meetings. And it’s not a one-way street – we believe it’s important to give back to each other, too. Every month we have a “First Friday” celebration to relax a bit and enjoy some down time together. By appreciating the value of our community and our employees, I like to think we have made giving back a healthy part of our corporate culture.
For more information on Stewart Painting and Community Support, click here.