by Julia Paulus Ogilvie
For most of us, all that is really required to achieve some level of professional success is to show up. There is no requirement to make the world a better place or to help your fellow human being. That is the sort of thing that is usually inconvenient to our time and goals. However, thankfully, there are some who take on that role.
Because, to truly make a lasting impact on a community takes more than just punching the clock. It takes more than showing up. It means that you devote your creativity, energy and professional acumen to solving a problem or helping to elevate others’ interests and goals.
The heroes you see featured here are people that not only have achieved excellence in their chosen fields, but they also are devoted tirelessly to helping to make St. Louis a better region.
Improving The Community As A Whole - John Servos | Neighbors Credit Union
Despite being busy in his role as president and CEO of Neighbors Credit Union, where he has worked for the past 15 years, John Servos still finds time to support the community. “My passion for helping the community really developed when I began working for Neighbors Credit Union,” he says. “The credit union philosophy is ‘People helping people,’ and I aim to maintain that motto in my life,” he says.
As the leader of a credit union, Servos is constantly finding ways to give back to the community with the support of his organization. “We continuously donate money and items to many community organizations, local chambers of commerce, schools and other charities,” he says. “Children’s Miracle Network is a charity that Neighbors Credit Union proudly supports. We have raised over $133,000 for them.
Neighbors Credit Union also has a scholarship program for which we have awarded a total of $59,900 in scholarships since its inception.”
Servos has passed on his passion for giving back to his staff, who often volunteer at local events and fundraisers. “For example, they participate in bowl-a-thons, coat drives, bake sales, community walks, dress-down-day fundraisers and more,” he says. “In addition to charitable aspects, as a credit union, we also provide our members and businesses with better rates and fewer fees.”
Even in his daily work Servos sees the benefits that come from helping others and seeing them progress. “In my line of work, it is like watching members’ stress melt away when we get them into a better loan or help get them out of debt,” he says. “We have also helped many businesses save funds with better loan and checking options. In addition, we have helped so many charitable causes over the years. It is incredible to see that we truly are making a difference.”
Servos’ end goal is to have the St. Louis community as a whole improved by what Neighbors Credit Union does. “I hope the members and businesses we help can prosper and continue to grow,” he says. “I hope the charities to which we donate help fund programs that help our community.”
Making St. Louis A Happier, Safer City - Barry Coziahr | Response! Targeted Marketing
Growing up, Barry Coziahr saw his father, who was a small-business owner, giving back as much as possible. In addition to usefully employing as many people as he could in his business, in his personal time Coziahr’s father would counsel others on aspects of their lives ranging from personal issues to business success. Above all his father instilled an attitude of being kind and helping others.
With that in mind, Coziahr began working with nonprofits and churches when he was 20 years old, and he has done so for the past 27 years. “I have lectured on the subject of drug education, character education and tolerance,” says Coziahr, president of Response! Targeted Marketing and authorized local expert for Constant Contact. “I have helped with community outreach programs as well as orchestrated aspects of large fundraising programs for religious organizations.”
For the last three years Coziahr has been the president of The Way to Happiness St. Louis, a character education program that has partnered with many nonprofits to spread its message. These organizations include. 365 Days for Dad, St. Louis Trotters, Doorways Shelter, Teens of Tomorrow, Stop the Killing, Truckers for Happiness, Teen Swag, the city of Pinelawn, St. Louis Columbia District, Better Family Life, St. Louis Black Film Festival, Dynasty Hip-Hop, the St. Louis chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers, the St. Louis Police Department, Holy Trinity Catholic Church and Adopt: Humane Services.
“It (The Way to Happiness) teaches moral values that are common and accepted by anyone regardless of religion, nationality, culture, race or other ethnic groups,” he says.
The Way to Happiness St. Louis is a proven program that reduces crime wherever it is distributed, according to Coziahr. “I love St. Louis,” he says. “The culture in our city is fantastic. I know that if we can make it an even better place, to that degree it will also thrive even more economically. When crime statistics decrease in a metropolitan area, jobs then become more available in that area. Economic conditions improve because industry and enterprise is attracted. Everybody wants to join the winning team. St. Louis is a winning team, and with this program I hope to contribute to making it an even better one.”
Impacting His Employees and Community - Steven Myers | True North Management Services LLC
When Steven Myers launched his company, True North Management Services LLC, 15 years ago, he struck on an idea for how to make it successful. He realized success would come from the character of the people around him. “We realized that we could have even higher levels of success in both our professional and personal lives by helping others inside our company and in our communities,” he says. “So it was early in our company’s history that we began to look for small ways, both inside and outside of True North, that we could help groups we felt were at a disadvantage.”
Currently the best position that Myers holds to give back to the community is as president at True North. “It allows me to directly impact the lives of my employees and how effective they can be in being community-minded themselves,” he says. “Over the years we have given money to charities or mentored people to achieve success in their lives.”
With a military background, Myers is also focused on helping his employees that are currently serving in the United States military as reservists. “Early in my career I was a reservist, and I felt the pressure telling my boss that I had to leave for weekend duty or go off for training for a couple weeks,” he says. “We make sure our employees know that they do not have to worry about losing their position or being passed over on a promotion because they are a part of the reserves. We send care packages, shirts and get updates so they stay engaged. We recognize serving our country is a sacrifice. What they are putting on the line is nothing but true heroism in our opinion. We will do everything in our power to accommodate their schedules even before our needs – because as big as our mission is, theirs is much bigger.”
Another way True North has helped is through HEROES Care. “I know from personal experience that upon being discharged from the service, you leave with a pack of clothes and a pat on the back,” says Myers. “We worked with HEROES Care and other local businesses to act as a drop-off location for a care-package drive. The care package included everything from couches and chairs to toiletries and kitchen supplies. This drive gave returning men and women a boost in starting their civilian lives. It also gave us the chance to conduct on-site interviews for open positions inside of our company.”
Doing What’s Right To Help Others - Randy Gori| Gori Julian & Associates
Even before Randy Gori, owner and founding partner of Gori Julian & Associates, had the means to make financial contributions to the community, community service and community support were always a part of his life. “I believe if you have done well and have accomplished success, you should help others,” he says. “Gori Julian & Associates has supported nearly 100 different organizations through cash contributions and sponsorships, and we always encourage our employees to get involved by lending their time and expertise when they are able.”
Gori leads by example as a board member of the Lewis & Clark Council of the Boy Scouts of America; the Matt Melucci Foundation, which gives money to students attending Southern Illinois University Edwardsville; and Christian Social Services.
In addition to his volunteer work, Gori’s firm, which represents victims of asbestos exposure throughout the country and handles cases in occupational disease, pharmaceutical litigation, products liability litigation and personal injury, supports many organizations and gives back to the community in a variety of ways. “We like to support medical and scientific causes, in particular the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (MARF),” he says. “Each year our firm organizes a Cycling for Meso event to raise funds to support MARF in its efforts to raise awareness and support for continued research in the fight against mesothelioma.”
Aside from believing that helping others is the right thing to do, Gori does what he can to help because of the stories he has heard over the years from families who have suffered because of mesothelioma. “I want to help find a cure or enhanced treatment so no others have to suffer from this terrible disease,” he says. “I also like to support MARF because of the advocacy and outreach they provide not only to the mesothelioma victim but their family as well.”
Reaching Out To Improve Human Life - Shura Garnett| St. Charles Convention Center
A lifetime believer in helping others, Shura Garnett can’t remember a time when she wasn’t trying to better the community in one way or another. From the time she was a small girl through her teen years, Garnett sold magazines and other items to raise money for UNICEF or other organizations. As a young adult, she joined Jaycees and volunteered with community organizations.
Having personally been in a position where she needed assistance, Garnett continued volunteering while she successfully launched her professional career. “It comes back to the golden rule and the simple belief in doing the right thing,” she says.
While working for the chamber of commerce in Midland, Texas, Garnett had the opportunity to see the good that comes from philanthropic efforts as she worked with many nonprofit agencies to fulfill various needs in the community. Today, as the general manager of the St. Charles Convention Center, Garnett remembers this and encourages her staff to give back to the community through philanthropic efforts with a goal of 100% participation. “My staff and I, through the support of Global Spectrum, host and support three to five charitable events throughout the year, for groups such as Youth In Need, Habitat for Humanity, American Red Cross, 100 Neediest families, St. Joachim & Ann Care Services, and Adopt a Soldier,” she says.
Garnett and her staff also organize host their own charitable event, Kids Block Party, which began in August of 2007 and drew over 1,300 kids and parents for activities including karaoke and dance competitions with [Radio Disney]. “This event now draws up to 2,500 people,” says Garnett. “In 2008 we created and hosted Helping Hands for the Holidays and drew about 150 people for a free and much needed meal. Today this event feeds up to 1,500 people who also have the chance to receive flu shots, health care screening and services, access to local resources, coats, gloves, and other winter clothing and personal care items. We collected water for the victims of Hurricane Katrina and assisted the Red Cross by collecting and sending money to provide relief for these same victims.”
As she continues to give back, Garnett’s hope is simply that a human life will be touched and improved in some capacity.
Submitted 6 years 315 days ago