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Even in the most unusual times, H&R Block’s people still supporting people

5 min read

5 min read

April 15, 2020

Tiffany Scalzitti Monroe

H&R Block associates are passionate about our purpose to provide help and inspire confidence in our clients and communities everywhere. It is our culture. It shows up every day in our work and it especially shows up when the normalcies of life are disrupted.

While the pandemic is unlike anything we have experienced in our lives, the passion of H&R Block’s tax professionals is on full display. In the past two weeks, H&R Block associates have volunteered more than 11,000 hours in their communities and donated nearly $30,000 to the Kansas City Regional COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund. Here are just a few of the inspiring stories I have heard.

American Lung Association fundraiser

In what was planned as her third year participating in the Fight for Air Climb, an event that covers 856 steps or 40 flights of stairs, District General Manager Shelley Hotchkiss wanted to climb despite the event’s cancelation. She found an outdoor flight of steps last month and climbed 893 steps on her own.

“As soon as I finished, I shared my climb with my St. Louis team,” she said. “They encouraged and supported me during my training and fundraising. And now we are in a situation where lung health is more important than ever.”

Hotchkiss was among the highest fundraisers in St. Louis, raising more than $2,000. She credits the generosity of her team of tax professionals and colleagues in helping her raise funds.

Food pantry donation

In late March, the Murphysboro, Ill. H&R Block tax professionals rallied around the Murphysboro Food Pantry, making a donation of nearly 400 pounds of food. Tax pro Patty Grammer headed up a team collecting food donations for the local nonprofit. The office committed to matching the community’s one-day donations. The tax professionals’ generosity was met with a second matching donation. The result? Community donations grew from a nearly 200-pound donation to almost 400 pounds once H&R Block made its match. That then doubled to nearly 800 pounds after a local resident matched H&R Block’s donation. Talk about Better Together!

“I am blessed to work with a generous group of tax experts who support our local food pantry,” said Grammer. “I am proud that we show up for our community and that our donations can bring even larger contributions to a nonprofit that I love supporting.”

Mobile food pantry

Last year, tax professionals in Columbus, Ga., made a commitment to the Community Warriors food distribution events. Two Saturdays a month, a team of H&R Block volunteers help sort groceries and load packages into cars. March’s food distribution was in jeopardy because there weren’t enough volunteers, despite Community Warriors’ revising the event to follow the CDC guidelines. However, true to form, H&R Block volunteers kept their commitment to the community and helped deliver food to more than 1800 families via a drive-through food distribution.

Staying connected

In the current situation, we all have a renewed focus on staying connected with our families and friends. H&R Block associates are also focused on staying connected with their teams to share about professional challenges as well as the joys and pains of our current reality.

A common theme has emerged from H&R Block associates: conversations help. Teams are using technology and tools like conference calls, text, email, and even apps to check on each other’s well-being, to offer much-needed distractions, and to support each other.

I have heard from hundreds of tax offices about how they are staying in touch and connecting about their lives separately from tackling their everyday work.

Here are two examples.

  • Senior Tax Analyst Jenean Van Manen who works in the Tampa area, shares how her office is using social media. “We have a group chat on Facebook and keep connected at all times. We support each other and stay up on what is happening in each other’s lives.”
  • Mary Teresa Lusby, a tax specialist in Cloverdale, Calif., shares what her team is doing, “The conversations are a way to check in. We share new things we have learned or ask questions as we get through this situation together. We are focused on supporting each other more than ever.”

H&R Block teams want to stay connected and are being more intentional with their conversations. Two teams shared how the questions they ask are providing the connections they seek.

  • Rebecca Sims, a master tax advisor in Denver, Colo., has developed a pattern to get the conversation flowing in her office, “Each day at midday we share what we are thankful for and before we leave for the night, we share what our plans are as if we were on a beach.”
  • Finance Manager Nicole Rosencrantz’s team has found a way to bring topics into a meeting to find common connections. “Each week, we take time to ask a fun question to just be able to connect. My favorite question so far has been, ‘If you could wipe your memory clean of one TV series, so you could watch it with fresh eyes during quarantine, what show would you choose?’”

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to evolve, H&R Block associates have stayed true to our purpose. The efforts to support each other and deliver for our clients are amazing. I am proud to be part of an organization that is so passionate about our clients and our teams.

H&R Block continues to share the latest information on the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on filing your taxes and receiving your stimulus payment at hrblock.com/coronavirus.

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