By: Melisa Galasso
After graduating from college, I moved to Northern Virginia and was an active member of Virginia Society of CPAs (VSCPA) both at the chapter and state level. After living there for nearly a decade, it definitely felt like home. So when my husband was offered a promotion with a transfer to Charlotte, NC, I was excited for him, but not so excited for me. My entire professional career was in NOVA. I had a great network of people, and I was very happy with my career. I had never even been to Charlotte before. But for the good of the family, he took the offer, and we moved to NC. My first order of business was to reach out the Charlotte chapter of NCACPA. I contacted the then President Austin Wachter and told him about my interest in getting involved.
Before I even moved to Charlotte, I attended via telephone a Charlotte chapter board meeting. At my first in-person board meeting, the discussion of the upcoming CPA Day of Service came about. Now this was something that made me feel comfortable. VSCPA had done several Days of Service, and I had participated in various ways. I was able to discuss some of the experiences I had had with the Day of Service. At that meeting, Austin thought it might be a good idea to create a committee for the Day of Service and asked for volunteers. I volunteered to chair the Community Service Committee for many reasons. First, I was new to the area and was interested in meeting people. Second, I thought my prior experience with the VSCPA would make a good foundation. Finally, I believe the activities that happen on the Day of Service really do make a difference—so I decided to volunteer. Austin, who had only met me in person once, gave me the go ahead.
Anyone who knows me, will tell you about my affection for spreadsheets. You give me a project, I give you excel spreadsheets. So I studied up on the charities in the Charlotte area and created a hit list of charities to contact. Once we had the charities locked down, we asked for volunteers to serve as “project leads.” I met some of the most amazing people during this journey. Normally, trying to find volunteers is the hardest part of the project; I had every project lead position filled in a week. Charlotte was starting to feel a lot more like home. We had several planning meetings to discuss action plans and make sure we were offering something for everyone. Having worked in public accounting, education, and industry, I understand the difficulty CPAs have trying to find time in their schedules. I wanted to offer something for everyone.
Back in Virginia one year, the Day of Service fell during my year-end close—clearly, getting a day off was not going to happen. But during my lunch hour that day I went to a local elementary school and read to the children in different classes books that dealt with financial literacy topics. I felt good that I had participated and that we closed our books on time. Keeping schedules in mind, the Charlotte chapter worked to have morning, afternoon, and evening activities. We strived to have activities that lasted one hour to those that were over four. We also understood that the date might be a day that someone was out of town, so we hosted drop boxes all around Charlotte for the entire month of September for people to donate items to be delivered to the related charity on the actual event date. We even hosted a virtual food drive!
On the first Day of Service, the Charlotte chapter offered 10 different events to our members representing a variety of well-deserving charities. We had over 513 people attend Charlotte events. The Day of Service exceeded my expectations. I met the most amazing people, and our chapter helped so many deserving charities. When asked if I wanted to continue for the 2013 year, I couldn’t help but say yes. Thankfully, this year I have a co-chair for my committee because we’re raising the bar and hosting 25 events in Charlotte in 2013. Sign-ups have already started. I hope you decide to volunteer. I promise no matter what your schedule is like, we have something for you!
This year’s CPA Day of Service is on September 20! Click here for more information and to register.
Melisa is an Audit Manager in the Professional Practices Department at Cherry Bekaert, LLP, in Charlotte. She currently serves on NCACPA’s Accounting & Attestation Committee and is Chair-Elect of the Charlotte Chapter. Melisa can be reached at [email protected].