Firm’s culture of community involvement makes Kitsap better

The Rice Fergus Miller team assembled recently within their downtown Bremerton offices for the Healthy Tomorrow Award presentation.

for an email to circulate the office with a plea for help with a specific charitable project.

“The collective whole,” says Black- wood, “is a good example of how even if we have our individual groups that

we hold close to our heart, it doesn’t take much to really get that power going – to really infuse the community with good things and good people and make that positive change, that posi- tive difference.”

In recognition of its remarkable culture of community giving, Kitsap Sun and Kitsap Credit Union have presented Rice Fergus Miller with the Healthy Tomorrow Award.

In presenting the award, Kitsap Credit Union president and CEO Elliott Gregg noted that Rice Fergus Miller is the first company to receive a Healthy Tomorrow Award, “in recognition of the exemplary culture this organization has cultivated that inspires their em- ployees to make a positive difference in their communities.”

Kitsap Sun Publisher Charles Horton agrees. “Evident in their deeds, leader- ship, staff and even their facility is a culture of talent, creativity and care, all to the benefit of their customers and community.”

Blackwood points out that the recognition belongs to all who work at the firm.

“We are a group of individuals who all strongly believe in being a part of a community – to be active in our community – and [the Healthy Tomor- row Award] is even more valued to

us because it is the community which supports our firm. We are thankful for the recognition this award gives to all of our staff.”

Every savvy business owner knows that a healthy, vibrant community is good for business. And that’s certainly true of the leadership at Rice Fergus Miller. But there’s more to it at this Bremerton architecture and planning firm – it’s as if there’s a philanthropic chemical in the water cooler that seeps into the staff’s psyche with every sip.

Nearly all of the company’s 37 employees donate time, money, or both to nonprofit organizations. The list of causes they support is long and varied, ranging from United Way and March of Dimes to local service clubs and church committees.

Is it a coincidence?

Not really, says director of adminis- tration Monica Blackwood: “It’s pretty ingrained in our culture.”

Blackwood says employees are encouraged to share their philanthropic passions with each other. That fosters an environment of support for each other’s causes that creates “a cyclical pattern that is positive for all of us.”

Formally, the company sanctions two activities: an annual workplace campaign for United Way and a chari- table giving committee to decide how its donations budget will be spent. The United Way campaign includes fun activities like chili cook-offs, silent auc- tions and tricycle races. The charitable

giving committee reviews applica- tions from nonprofit organizations quarterly, and awards financial donations to a wide range of orga- nizations, usually local.

Informally, employees talk with each other about the organiza- tions they hold dear. There’s time at weekly staff meetings for them to invite colleagues to attend a fund- raising event. And it’s not unusual