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Chair's corner.

For me, one of the great satisfactions of being a CPA is having the chance to use my skills to give something back to my community. The CPA profession is devoted to the public good, and that means not only performing professional services that benefit the public, but also personally becoming engaged in volunteer activities in our own communities. Each CPA's involvement helps reinforce the profession's reputation as a whole.

There are some amazing examples of volunteerism in our profession, and I'd like to share some of them with you. For starters, Bob Fay, of Canton, Ohio, who earned the AICPA Individual Public Service Award in 2002, has been involved with Habitat for Humanity since 1988, serving on its board and fundraising committee and having a hand in the completion of roughly 225 homes. He also has been active for 12 years with a local women's shelter, starting with it when it had one shelter that couldn't pay its heating bill and working to help it grow to an organization with two shelters and a $1.8 million budget. "CPAs are extremely well respected in our communities and we have the skills and leadership abilities these organizations are dying for," he says, adding that CPAs' financial expertise "can supply a huge piece of the puzzle for these groups."

The winner of this year's Individual Public Service Award, Ralph B. Bender, has served on the boards of more than 20 local community service organizations in his native Baton Rouge. KraftCPAs, of Nashville, Tenn., which earned the Firm Public Service Award, establishes community service as a goal for its professional staff. The firm's leadership actively helps employees find opportunities for community service.

Many CPAs have also taken advantage of the volunteer opportunities afforded by the 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy program. In Prescott, Ariz., Scott Helfinstine, who is both a financial literacy volunteer and an AICPA CPA Ambassador, hosted educational programs for middle-school-age girls on subjects including the history of money, and banking and financial concepts. In Charleston, S.C., Bob Baldwin is helping the AICPA coordinate a hurricane preparation media outreach for the state. Steve McConnel of Ore. is a co-author of "Real World, Real Debt," a program for college students that has been used by several state CPA societies. In Colo., Fran Coet has given presentations to groups such as Mi Casa, a nonprofit group that provides education services that promote economic independence for low-income Latina women and youth.

I personally volunteer with several organizations, but two are particularly meaningful to me. As a member of the executive committee of the board and audit committee chair for United Way for Southeastern Michigan, I've been heavily involved in their effort to bring about enormous, community-wide change by addressing prevention as well as providing safety-net services. I am also a long-time board member and past chair of the Michigan Women's Foundation, a statewide organization dedicated to the economic self-sufficiency and well-being of women and girls. In both these cases and many more, I have enjoyed the good fortune of being able to use my CPA skills to make a difference.

I am sure many of you are already actively involved in volunteer activities. If you are seeking to enhance your own or your firm's involvement, I would encourage you to investigate the 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy program ( literacy) or the CPA Ambassador program ( These two initiatives provide great tools for CPAs to leverage our skills and talent to help address issues of significance in our communities. They also allow us to demonstrate the profession's good works, while increasing members' visibility in a positive way. CPAs making a difference--doesn't it make you proud?

By Leslie Murphy, CPA

Chair, AICPA Board of Directors

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Title Annotation:AICPA
Author:Murphy, Leslie
Publication:CPA Letter
Date:Jul 1, 2006
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