Columbia Vista Corporation may be Clark County’s last remaining saw mill, but it certainly isn’t your run of the mill workplace. That’s because owners Bob and Sharon Lewis have worked hard to carve out a solid set of business philosophies. Central to all their efforts is their company’s core value of investing in individuals to allow each person to grow and achieve their maximum potential.
The real transformation began when they asked their staff to participate in the creation of quality management systems and environmental standards. Almost immediately, a cultural shift took place. Every employee knew their role and its contribution to the entire organization. It led Bob and Sharon to offer more opportunities to their employees and even apply similar strategies to their philanthropy. Watch how their inspiring story unfolded.
As you can see, financial literacy classes, tuition reimbursement, forgivable home loans and corporate scholarships helped their employees see themselves as more than just a staff member. They felt valued as people, neighbors and friends.
The Lewises have since transferred these lessons to their strong support for local organizations. Sharon spent 9 years on the board of the Humane Society for Southwest Washington, helping to guide the organization through a major leadership transition and capital campaign. The two of them have also collectively served more than 15 years as board members of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Southwest Washington. Here, their leadership and giving has funded pressing needs like transportation improvements and also established a scholarship fund at the Community Foundation that supports club members as they take their next steps beyond high school.
By backing up their financial support with solid leadership, personal connections and unique expertise, they have gone beyond just giving. And, as Bob stated in the video, anyone can accomplish this type of giving at any level. It begins by aligning your philanthropic focus with your unique passions, skills and strengths.
For Bob and Sharon, this meant applying their connections, leadership and business savvy to local nonprofit boards. It also meant becoming champions for organizations that provide life-changing opportunities to those who need them most. For an artist, going beyond the give might involve teaching educational classes at a local arts organization. For a biologist with knowledge of habitat restoration, it might mean finding an environmental organization and offering project or program support.
No matter the cause, we as citizens must do more than give financially if we want to create lasting impact in our community. We must show our commitment not only through the ways we choose to direct our dollars but also by lending our knowledge, extending our leadership, and positioning ourselves behind people, families and organizations in need.
When we do this, we redefine what it means to give. We become catalysts for change.