Why It Pays to Give Back

by Katie Sloan

Lori Valenti Webb
The Woodlark Companies
Volunteering with a non-profit, service organization that matches your company culture will energize your team, while helping your community.

Over the past decade, The Woodlark Companies has grown in size to develop a portfolio of more than 5,000 units. We primarily focus on student housing, and we believe part of our mission is not just to house, but to educate future leaders. Our new philanthropic division is taking the next step to further this mission.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of America is an organization that enables young people to reach their fullest potential. Since Woodlark has experience with education and students, we selected the Boys & Girls Clubs as one of our first organizations to support. Our interest and passion is education, and we have a unique ability to contribute to their objective and vision.

“We focus on housing future leaders and seek to expand the pipeline to include more of our youth,” says Woodlark Director Derrick Milam. “We are honored to help such a wonderful and committed organization focus on creating a bright future for the very groups who often miss out on the college experience. We look forward to contributing to this effort.”

The Boys & Girls Clubs is an attractive organization to our company for two reasons. First, we can support the Club from a national standpoint. Our company is spread across 15 different states, so we plan to develop a Woodlark Scholarship and work with Club directors to decide the best ways to use this scholarship based on the programs that the Club offers. Second, it is important for our associates and residents to be involved with our philanthropic efforts. Many have expressed great interest in offering help at the community level. We have fostered personal relationships with Club directors in our local markets so that we can team up with the individual Clubs to benefit them directly.

There are many ways that our properties and people can engage at the local level. Each Club offers diverse programs tailored to its local population. Due to our interest in education, we gravitate toward such programs as Project Learn; Power Hour, and ClubService. Our associates are able to discuss with their local Club directors what the particular needs are and then devise an outline of where efforts will be focused.

Some of the Clubs need supplies, tutors, venues and monetary donations, and we have the ability to offer those resources. Our associates all receive paid volunteer time per year, which can be used during their time at the Club. Our residents will receive bulletins with Club initiatives and programs so they can be involved on behalf of the apartment community.

One director in particular, Alan Taylor of Wake County, N.C., noted that his Clubs need venues to carry out big events. We have a property near one of their locations called Wolf Creek that has an expansive club room, pool deck and resident lounge that are all great areas to host a function for the Boys & Girls Club.

We love to see the enthusiasm that an effort like this sparks in our teams. One example at The Heights II in San Marcos, Texas, is the 5k race they are planning for March 2013. This undertaking, albeit large, has the staff thrilled to incorporate the property, community, residents and neighbors to help promote the cause. The property is beginning the orchestration of this event to start at the property, offer great refreshments and entertainment, and produce a great turnout that will educate the community.

Our company is thrilled to partner with this special organization. Its leaders offer hope to kids who need safe places to study and socialize, and they are committed to character development and education. We are lucky to be a part of this organization and to offer support both nationally and locally. We intend to bring a great energy to our efforts and hope to make some wonderful memories. In turn, we know we will learn from these amazing kids.

Headquartered in White Plains, N.Y., The Woodlark Companies is a privately owned real estate investment company specializing in the acquisition, financing and ownership of multi-family housing. Woodlark is a procurer of student housing and military housing. For more information, visit, www.wlfund.com

 — Lori Valenti Webb, Vice President of Marketing, The Woodlark Companies.

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