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Local businesses promote volunteer opportunities, events to boost morale
companies that care1
Kindergartener Marques Tovar holds up a book he received from Aspire Home Real Estates Home 2 Read program at Cunningham Elementary School. Aspire is now providing books to the school on an annual basis and hopes to add more schools as the company grows. - photo by Photo Contributed

The holiday season may have come and gone, but that doesn’t mean the giving is over for several local companies that make contributing to the community a year-round effort.

Take Varco Pruden for example.

The metal manufacturing company has been around since 1969, but when the business was acquired by Blue Scope Building of North America five years ago the Turlock production plant was shut down. Now an engineering office remains with roughly 60 employees, one of which is production scheduler Kelly Pimentel, who is tasked with organizing local volunteer opportunities for employees.

“Part of my work goals on my review is setting up at least four volunteer functions a year,” explained Pimentel. “I’m always looking for different ways to contribute.”

While Pimentel is the main coordinator between the company and the local organizations at which the Varco Pruden employees volunteer, twice a year all of the Blue Scope employees receive a company newsletter that highlights volunteer work done by Blue Scope companies across the country.

“The company is very big on giving back,” said Pimentel.

Varco Pruden has established a system that benefits employees that give selflessly  by awarding “well being” points, which can mean extra dollars when they volunteer for events like Love Turlock, the once a year community clean-up event.

 “Personally, I love to give back and I don’t care why people do it as long as they do it,” said Pimentel. “And I think they like it. It builds teamwork.”

On Friday, a group of employees went to the United Samaritans Foundation to pack and hand out food boxes for those in need.

“Everyone gets the warm and fuzzies that we’ve actually helped people. It’s not just donating money,” said Pimentel.

Varco Pruden also participated in the United Way’s Day of Caring, which brings businesses and volunteers together to work on service projects by volunteering at the United Samaritans Foundation in June. The company also hosts quarterly blood drives through Delta Blood Bank and participated in Turlock Together.

While reaching out to nonprofits like the United Way affords companies a guaranteed way to contribute to the community, many companies have created their own events to give back as well.

For the past five years Lancaster Painting has hosted its Paint it Forward event, a nomination-based program which allows community members to submit people or organizations that they think would benefit from a complimentary paint job. In an effort to beautify the community and help those in need, the company has donated thousands of dollars in services to give back to those who are often either down on their luck financially or health-wise.

 “It is definitely something the employees look forward to. They enjoy giving back to the community. It’s a good team-building event for all of us and it boosts morale,” said Lancaster Painting operations manager Stephanie Talkington.

Each year at the company Christmas party, employees vote for their favorite project which they will collectively work on in either January or February of the following year. More than 50 people, including painters and their families, spend their Saturday to beautify a local home or business at the Paint it Forward event. This year’s paint job will take place on Feb. 21 and benefit a Turlock man battling ALS, or Lou Gehrig ’s disease, which is a neurodegenerative brain disease.

Local businessman Scott Snyder has also established a philanthropic spirit at his company, Aspire Home Real Estate, which will celebrate its one year anniversary on Sunday.

 “I wanted to start a company where a significant part of the commission would be automatically designated to go back into the community,” explained Snyder.

 Having developed charitable habits as an agent prior to venturing off on his own, Snyder said being philanthropic is not only important to him, but is the company culture at Aspire.

“We’re about doing more than just selling homes,” he said. “Agents love the environment and the commitment we have to our community. They know it’s good for them, it’s good for their families, and it’s good for the community we serve in.”

This year marks the first annual Aspire Fitness Challenge, a free 30-day challenge to encourage the community to get in shape by setting their own personal health goals. Sponsored in conjunction with iMortgage and Lighthouse Communications, the challenge culminates in a one mile community walk or 5k jog at Turlock High School on March 7. (More information can be found at:

 “I have a heart for health and fitness and I think real estate is a great platform for giving back and reaching out to the community in this way,” said Snyder.

But the giving doesn’t stop there.

Snyder also spearheads a Home 2 Read program aimed at putting books in the hands of local kindergarten students to encourage parents and caregivers to set aside time to read together. During the holiday season the company also participates in the local Realtors' Can Tree Breakfast and Turlock Together, two programs aimed at helping those in need.

Many local companies also host canned food drives during the holidays, such as Hilmar Cheese Company, which matches each item donated. The company also organized Relay for Life teams for years with members including employees, dairy farm families and company owners. Plus, the company matches the funds each team raises.

The local United Way chapter, which promotes the worldwide leadership organization’s aim of helping individuals and families achieve their potential through education, income, stability and healthy living, represents a host of local nonprofits. This makes it a great resource for companies looking to give back to the community in a diverse set of ways. In January, Best RV donated $100 for every vehicle sold to the United Way of Stanislaus County, which will determine where the funds go based on the needs of local nonprofits.

“We have been very successful in the RV business for over 10 years and want to help others lead successful lives as well,” said co-owner Nile Ammari in January.

Best RV sold more than 150 vehicles throughout the month of January and will be presenting the United Way with a check on Feb. 13.