We recently had the chance to connect with two amazing Siteimprovers in our US office, Andrew Fix, Account Executive, and Darryl White, Vertical Development Manager. Both Andrew and Darryl recently showcased what it means to give back to the community and make a difference.

 

Darryl started his own non-profit this year called Bay Laurel Fund. Darryl created Bay Laurel Fund to help inner-city communities through Arts and Athletic programs. Darryl and Bay Laurel Fund recently partnered with Siteimprove to raise awareness for kids in need of school supplies. Siteimprove’s goal was to collect 50 backpacks, 100 notebooks and 150 crayon, marker, pens and pencils packs, and this is where Andrew Fix comes in. He decided to take it a step further as he reached out to his network for donations and matched every donation he received.

Andrew, why did you decide to start this initiative of matching every donation?

Andrew: Growing up and getting ready for the first day of school, I was always fortunate to get new shoes, new clothes, and a new backpack. Tell me I have an opportunity to provide that for another child or multiple children and I am all in. We can always do a better job of stepping up to help others and I felt this was a great initiative that will make a positive impact for the kids of our community. I once saw the NBA player Magic Johnson who said: “Your tombstone doesn’t reflect how much money you’ve made, it reflects how much of an impact you’ve made.” That is something that has stuck with me and something I live by. In the case of the School Supply Drive, giving back has allowed me to make an impact and help those families in need.

What was the result of your initiative?

Andrew: I’m so proud to say that the initiative resulted in 38 backpacks, 40 notebooks, and multiple packs of pens and pencils.

Darryl, Andrew, and Shannon showing all the backpacks and school supplies that Siteimprovers donated

In total, Siteimprove was able to donate 79 backpacks, 231 notebooks, and 187 crayon, markers, pens, and pencil packs.

Darryl, what prompted you to create the Bay Laurel Fund?

Darryl: I grew up in the inner-city of Chicago before moving to Minnesota and when I was younger, we didn’t have these types of things going on in our community. I want to be able to show these kids that there is so much out there to do and learn. They just need some guidance and resources to succeed.

I started the non-profit with two other guys this year. The Bay Laurel Fund started from a local record label called Bay Laurel, which is a social enterprise that advocates for community involvement. The founders approached me asking if I would be interested in starting a non-profit branching off their record label and call it the Bay Laurel Fund. I’ve always been a huge advocate myself in giving back and volunteering in the community and this was a way for me to do it on a bigger scale. Plus, this helps to get others involved in giving back to the youth in our community. I truly believe if we can help mold the younger generation and provide them the proper resources, they can have a huge impact on our future.

Tell us more about the event that helped raise backpacks, supplies, and haircuts for kids. What was the impact of the event?

Darryl: We chose backpacks, supplies, and haircuts because first day of school was around the corner and the St. Louis Park Police department mentioned there were a lot of underprivileged kids that come to their Thursday night “Basketball in the Park” event every Thursday. We wanted to end the summer with a great event for the kids to get them prepared for the school year.

We provided over 185 backpacks for families. The kids, teens, and college students were able to select the items they needed for school. One teacher was given a box of backpacks and others were able to gather supplies for their classrooms. The barbers provided 45 haircuts and I believe we were able to feed over 300 people.

To see the smiles on all their faces was priceless! I don’t know how many times I heard “Officer Chaunte’ look at my hair” or “Look at what I got!”

The other amazing thing about this event is all the people of color that were involved. We know how important it is to see someone that looks like you and our goal was to show the kids that you can be a barber, hairstylist, police officer, chef, businessperson no matter what.

Overall, I think it was a huge impact on the community and on the volunteers. There were parents coming up to us thanking us for setting up the event. One mother with 3 kids was in tears thanking us for the event and providing this blessing to them.

 

What is your long-term plan with Bay Laurel Fund?

Darryl: My long-term plan is to open a community center here in Minneapolis that will provide arts and athletic programs for kids all in one building. We can help them learn how to create music, get in touch with their creative side through arts, film, graphics, products, and marketing. The community center will also have its own athletic teams, from football, basketball, soccer, baseball, and even hockey someday.

The next project will be one of the 4 core camps we are putting on throughout the year: basketball, football, arts, and music. The next camp will be a music camp this winter and we are raising money for it right now. We are planning a bags tournament soon and all the money raised will go directly to the fund.

Tell us something about yourselves that your fellow Siteimprovers might not know?

Andrew: I will never say no to a new experience and am constantly crossing items off my bucket list. Top on my list is to travel to all 7 continents. Also, I love Celine Dion.

Darryl: Funny story, when I was living in Chicago in my early years, I used to ride the train in the morning from the Southside of Chicago to the Westside of Chicago for school. One day I was riding the train with my family and I was so tired that when we were standing by the door to get off the train I stayed there sleeping standing up and the doors closed, and my family had gotten off the train. My mom and sisters had to rush to the next station to find me as I was lost and didn’t know where my family was. It’s one of the stories from when I was young that my mom likes to talk about.

Darryl White joined Siteimprove in March 2015 and is currently working as Vertical Development Manager. Darryl is based in Minneapolis.

Andrew Fix joined Siteimprove in June 2019 and is currently working as Account Executive. Andrew is based in Minneapolis.