Each day in America, more than 20 veterans commit suicide. That number is shocking but not surprising when we reflect on the conditions within which our veterans exist – they volunteer to serve our country for low pay and terrible living conditions, can be separated from their families without any say and put in prison if they refuse, are deployed to faraway lands where they are sometimes hated to the point that people seek to kill them and where they may sometimes need to kill others. Our own media relentlessly questions their missions and their tactics, causing them further strife in trying to understand who they are and how they fit into society. The medical facilities and services we provide them are typically sub-par, particularly in the area of mental health. All of this results in 20 heroes taking their lives each day, none of which get any attention from the media the way a celebrity death does.
As a veteran myself, I have realized that just talking about the issue does not really help solve it, and that I needed to devote time and resources to help solve this tragedy. Fortunately, we have an amazing organization headquartered right here on Long Island that is working hard to address these issues both for our veterans and for other challenged members of the population. Thus, I am proud to announce that last month I was elected to the national boards of directors of The Guide Dog Foundation and America’s VetDogs, which work tirelessly to provide guide and service dogs – free of charge – to people who are blind or have low vision, and to those who have served our country honorably, to help them deal with any physical or mental challenges. I’m humbled to serve organizations whose missions are so important to me personally.
One of the best aspects of my new role is working closely with my good friend John Miller, President and CEO of both organizations. I thought this was the perfect occasion to look back at our CMM Live interview from last year. Listen here or watch here – we can all learn something from John’s wisdom about how the business and nonprofit communities can effectively partner and how anyone can make an impact.
- If not us, then who? I asked John what made him choose to lead a nonprofit, and his answer was simple. Early in his career he worked for a food bank and if that food bank didn’t run, then people didn’t eat. If not for John and the work accomplished every day at GDF and America’s VetDogs, veterans and sight-impaired people would go without critical services. “It’s all about the impact,” says John.
- Making an impact. Whether the dog is paired with a sight impaired-person or a veteran, these dogs perform necessary tasks for their owners daily. GDF works to train the dogs from birth in a process that takes years and costs around $60,000 per dog.
- Running nonprofits like a business. “A nonprofit that will succeed needs to be run like a business,” says John. Good work is the always the end goal, but nonprofit leaders must be cognizant of the bottom line.
- Partnership is key. GDF works closely with Island Harvest to support veterans with not only service dogs but with supplemental food. These partnerships are just as important for the people served as they are for the nonprofit organizations. I hope we can see more partnerships like this not only in the nonprofit community but in the business world as well.
WINE OF THE WEEK
El Enemigo Cabernet Franc N.V., Mendoza Argentina ($22.99) – Although typically known for its Malbecs, Mendoza is an up-and-coming region for Cabernet Franc and this one is truly exceptional. This winery is situated in limestone soil and is at a very high altitude, creating an exceptionally complex yet drinkable wine. Its price makes it very attractive, and I would recommend bringing it to a summer cookout where steak, ribs and/or sausage are being served.
New Neighbors – We were thrilled to make our expansion to Nassau County official with a ribbon-cutting on June 26 officiated by the Westbury-Carle Place Chamber of Commerce. I was also honored that Town of North Hempstead Councilwoman Viviana L. Russell, whose district includes our new office at 1025 Old Country Road in Westbury, attended the event and presented the firm with a Citation of Recognition and Merit on behalf of the Town. Clients, friends, and neighbors old and new enjoyed catering from iconic Westbury restaurant Tesoro’s in the atrium of our new building. The office is our third location and our first in Nassau County. Onward and upward!
Welcome Back Jack – CMM celebrated July 4 in style with a patriotic team lunch to welcome home our very own Jack Harrington, who recently returned from his deployment in Afghanistan. Jack is a Lieutenant in the United States Navy Reserve and we couldn’t be happier that he’s home safe and sound with his beautiful family.
Leadership Academy – I enjoyed meeting with the management team of longtime CMM client Softheon, headed by my good friend Eugene Sayan, last week to present the first of three in-depth leadership training sessions. We discussed how emerging leaders take the next step in their careers. I’m passionate about training future Long Island leaders and would welcome the opportunity to tailor leadership training to your organization – feel free to reach out!
CMM Academy – The recent heat wave makes it hard to believe that fall isn’t too far off. I’m not one to rush the summer, but I’m still excited about our upcoming fall programming through CMM Academy. We’re planning a Young Professionals series, a leadership series on the art of getting things done, and more. Keep an eye out for details! Enjoy the sunshine.