It all started with a phone call and a simple request: “Do you want to get involved with the Autism Speaks Walk in Arizona?” Christopher Walker, National Account Executive with The Sherwin-Williams Company, received a phone call from a longtime friend and business associate, and simply said “yes.” Little did Walker know big of an impact one small “yes” would have.
“Andy Hernandez [of MC Companies] called me and asked me to get involved, he was the first guy that got me started with the AMA Autism Committee,” explains Walker. The Arizona Multi-Housing Association Autism Committee was started by Lesley Brice, President of MC Companies in 2015 to bring together management companies, vendors and trade partners within the AM
A to raise autism awareness and funds for the Autism Speaks Walk Arizona in partnership with SARRC.
“There’s nobody else quite like Lesley Brice. What you see is what you get with her and she always delivers on her word. She is involved with a lot of programs through the AMA and with MC Companies’ foundation, so it felt great to get involved because I knew there was powerful leadership behind it.”
Walker began looking at ways that Sherwin-Williams could get involved to help with the walk. One of the first ideas was to have donation boxes at Sherwin-Williams locations throughout Arizona. But Walker wanted to do more, and with the walk only a few months away, he came up with an idea.
“We really only had 60 days and didn’t have much time to make a big impact. Yes, we would have been able to raise awareness, which is great but I wanted to do something big. So I came to Lesley and said: ‘let me talk to my national team and see if we can donate 1% back to your paid purchases,’ and Lesley so open and gratuitous to everything that we could do to help,” says Walker.
“I proposed this 1% donation to my people and with some significant coaxing I was able to push it through and make it retroactive back to 2015 and we made it so it will last a couple of years with further abilities to amend it. We’ve made a 2-year commitment to the Sharing the Good Life Foundation but we’ve made it easy to continue.”
Sherwin-Williams has strong ties to philanthropic giving and encourages employees to support non-profits and organizations in their communities. “Everybody is affected by something and at a company as a large as ours, our leadership understands and appreciates that we have employees that want to participate and give back to the community. It only makes our company stronger.”
As we gear up for Autism Speaks Walk Arizona 2016, Walker hopes to see more vendors and trade partners within the AMA will realize the value of giving back. “There are lot of vendors, trade partners and management companies within the AMA that truly have large hearts. At the end of the day we want to partner with our customers, and partnering with them doesn’t always mean selling them something – it means we go through a process, like the 1% program, that builds team work, friendship and keeps us working together.”
The work that Sherwin-Williams has done to raise awareness and funds for Autism Speaks and the Southwest Autism Research and Resource center is greatly appreciated. Their hard work and creativity to find new ways to fundraise will touch the lives of people across the state of Arizona. All it took was a “yes” – what will you say?
You can get involved with the AMA Autism Committee here. Register for Autism Speaks Walk Arizona today and get your company involved! You can also learn about services and programs from Autism Speaks and the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center online.