Two years ago, Highland Park High School and Eisenhower Middle School students often had to navigate sidewalks strewn with trash, tree limbs and even tires. But a fortuitous alliance among Advisors Excel, Topeka Public Schools, the City of Topeka’s Department of Neighborhood Relations and the Topeka Police Department has since resulted in twice-a-month maintenance stints to ensure kids have safe passage.
The first Rock the Block event took place at Highland Park High School in 2015, drawing Advisors Excel employees, high school students and neighbors to spruce up a city block. The event was so successful Advisors Excel opted to continue its participation with the community partners.
Clad in AE Charitable Giving T-shirts, eight employees volunteer for three-hour stints to clean curbs, cut brush, mow neighborhood lawns and pick up trash and leaves. The City of Topeka provides gloves and tools.
“The neighbors love it when we show up and often come out to converse with us and help the effort,” said Lindsay Freeman, director of employee initiatives. “It’s an opportunity for us to rally the community and make a difference while demonstrating a level of respect and care for them.”
Freeman says it’s also gratifying when motorists drive by and honk and wave in support of what employees and neighborhood volunteers are accomplishing.
Monique Glaude, division director of the Department of Neighborhood Relations, says Rock the Block cleans the rights of way for 21 neighborhood associations.
“You never know how a little bit of your time can have such an impact,” said Glaude, praising the work of Rock the Block volunteers for allowing people “to walk in a safer, cleaner environment.”
A Topeka police officer attends each cleanup session, his or her parked vehicle signaling to motorists to slow down to ensure that employees and volunteers are safe as they remove obstructions, pull weeds and clear gutters.
Rock the Block is one of many Advisors Excel-sponsored volunteer activities.
“We work outside in the spring and fall, and it’s often a comfortable time of year to be outdoors,” Freeman said. “Employees get a great deal of satisfaction from seeing the dramatic difference that can be made, and that’s what we aim for with everything we do at Advisors Excel.”
As a complement to their varied work roles in providing high-level marketing support to financial advisers across the country, community engagement is an integral component of Advisors Excel’s culture.
Given that about two-thirds of the company’s employees are millennials, Freeman notes volunteerism is often one of the first things prospective employees ask recruiters about when considering joining the team.
“People coming on board have to have caring and giving in their hearts, because we believe that quality will make them a better, more well-rounded employee,” Freeman said. “We live here, and we raise our families here. Allowing paid time off for our employees to provide manpower for a good cause has a positive impact on Topeka and a positive impact on our workforce.”
Cody Foster, one of three Advisors Excel founders, agreed: “As a service-based company, our employees offer a better experience when they are operating out of a sense of gratitude, and when you’re able to go serve others in need, it is a great place for gratitude to start.”