Learning from differences: Stewardship of the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus by Al Ingram — and Ipswitch iCare

Al Ingram

Ingram, dressed for a concert

Four years before joining Ipswitch as IT director in 2000, Al Ingram began volunteering, organizing — and singing — with the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus (BGMC). The 175-voice, 30-year-old non-profit gives three public concerts a year — its holiday shows are Dec. 11, 16, 17 and 19 (Tickets)  in Jordan Hall at the New England Conservatory of Music.

Now operations director for Ipswitch, Ingram is in his second term as president of the Board of Directors of  BGMC.  “Our mission is to create a more tolerant society through the power of music,” says Ingram.  In between concerts, an ongoing task for BMGC members is their work in Boston-area high schools — where members help with anti-bullying and anti-homophobia education — through musical appearances.  Ipswitch supports BGMC through our iCare program.

Ingram grew up in Colorado Springs, Colo., when it was still a small city.  Starting down a track of interest in science and engineering, he got a degree in computer science and ended up a part of the mini-computer boom working at Digital Equipment Corp.  for 18 years.  He recalls that in 1999, Ipswitch CEO/founder Roger Greene attended a BGMC concert.

STORY CONTINUED . . . (with video)

Two Ipswitch-Atlanta families represent $1k commitment to Down syndrome research/education

Awoke family

Alex Awoke and family, with son, Kaleb, in stroller

Story and photos contributed by Dan Pitre and Alex Awoke

ATLANTA – Marking an increased commitment to Down syndrome education and research, two Ipswitch-team families took part last month in a four-hour, half-mile “Buddy Walk” around Centennial Olympic Park which raised more than $172,000.

October in Atlanta is a wonderful time of the year; the leaves turn, color bursting in vibrant reds and yellows under clear blue skies. It was in this idyllic setting that the Down Syndrome Society of Atlanta (DSAA) held its largest annual fundraiser.  Among walkers enjoying live music, entertainment, clowns and bounce houses were Dan Pitre’s family, walking with son Jacob, and Alex Awoke’s family walking with son Kaleb. Both Dan and Alex work with network management in Atlanta. Dan’s a technical product manager and writer; Alex does quality assurance.

Ipswitch has in the past had individually sponsored employees and their families who participated in the DSAA Buddy Walk. This year the company, through the iCare program, upped the ante and became a corporate sponsor of the event at the $1,000 silver-sponsor level.

In the advertisement for the Oct. 9 Buddy Walk, DSAA Executive Director Cynthia Jones wrote:

Dan Pitre and son, Jacob

Dan Pitre and son, Jacob

“Corporate sponsors make this event possible. We have the opportunity to let the entire community know of your support of families and individuals with Down syndrome. With your help, the projects of DSAA can continue to grow and raise awareness while educating the Atlanta community to the importance of individuals with Down syndrome to the community as a whole.”

The “Buddy Walk” was developed by the National Down Syndrome Society in 1995 to promote awareness and inclusion for people with Down syndrome and to raise money for research and education programs. The program has expanded from 17 walks the first year to more than 300 expected in 2011. Last year over $11.2 million was raised nationwide for the Down syndrome community.

Down Syndrome is a genetic condition caused by the presence of an extra 21st chromosome (Trisomy 21).  It takes its name from the English doctor John Langdon Down, who first described the syndrome in 1886. The poem entitled “Welcome to Holland,” written by Emily Perl Kingsley, speaks to the experience of raising a child with a disability.

New friends, rolling exercise: Dan Kirkland reports on a two-day ride for MS – complete with unicyclist

Dan Kirkland, NM Atlanta tech support

Dan Kirkland, Atlanta tech support, at the start of the MS ride

Blogger Dan Kirkland is a three-year veteran of the Ipswitch Atlanta office, where he is a senior support engineer.


By Dan Kirkland

I’m not a person that will exercise just for the sake of exercising; I need some purpose or goal other than trying to get in shape.  Bike MS gave me a great reason to get on my bike and ride over the rolling hills of Central Georgia.

The “Bike for MS” is a nationwide fund raising event for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

The Ipswitch iCare program contributed $250 as a sponsor of my ride. I have registered for next year’s ride, so I will begin a new fund-raising campaign soon.  During the two-day event Sept. 16-17, over 1,800 riders raised over $1 million to help find an MS cure.  Many of the riders sported high-end road bikes, a few recumbent bikes, a couple of hand powered trikes and even a unicyclist.

CONTINUED . . .

Steve Staden joins bike run that nets $50K toward healthy food for needy families

More than 200 needy families in southeast-central Wisconsin, two-thirds of them with children, will have an easier time affording healthy, locally grown food as a result of $50,000 raised in a weekend “Bike the Barns” bicycle event which included rider Steve Staden, Ipswitch R&D development manager in the Madison office.

Madison-area CSA Coalition logoStaden said he and his girlfriend  joined 570 bicyclers who  rode either 26 miles (“radish route”) or 63 miles (“rutabaga route”)  in rain and 50-degree temperatures around the rolling plains of Madison, Wis., to benefit the Madison Area CSA Coalition. “CSA” stands for “Community Supported Agriculture,” and in this case it applies to a 20-year-old non-profit association of 50 food-growing farms within about a 100-mile radius of Madison.

Steve Staden gearing up for "Bike the Barns" on Sept. 18

Steve Staden gearing up for "Bike the Barns"

Despite the rain, the $50,000 was “more than we have ever raised before in a single bike event,” said Gini Knight, community-program manager for the CSA Coalition. They’ll use proceeds from Sunday’s ride to provide 50-percent subsidies to the 200 needy families who purchase an annual family “share” of food. That would otherwise cost them $570 for 20 weeks of fresh produce – in quantities sufficient to feed a family of four.

To fortify the bicycle riders along the rolling route pit stops were at participating farms with names like Wholesome Harvest and Sprouting Acres. They included – all locally sourced – a breakfast of yogurt waffle cups with fruit and  lunches of either roast beef or veggie sandwiches, bean salad, green salad and homemade ice-cream sandwiches. Menu for  the post-ride after party? Tacos, coleslaw, root-beer floats and beer from a local brewery.

Staden’s registration fee and contribution for the ride will be matched by Ipswitch’s iCare program.  He’s still taking friends-and-family donations at his pledge web page. His next charity ride is Oct. 1 to benefit 12 health-related services via Tomorrow’s Hope.

 

Madison’s Jami Noble among 1,500 raising $430,000 for juvenile diabetes research

Baylee Hale with mascot and friend

Baylee Hale, right, with Madison-Area Technical College mascot (center) and a friend (left)

MADISON, Wis. — Ipswitch Inc. was represented by Madison, Wis., office manager Jami Noble on Sunday, Sept. 18 as more than $430,000 was raised in a three-kilometer family walkathon to benefit juvenile diabetes research.

The “Walk to Cure Diabetes,” in Madison’s Warner Park drew nearly 1,500 people despite rain, said Jamie Weissburg, executive director of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation chapter for western Wisconsin.

Noble joined a 35-member, blue-shirted volunteer team calling themselves “Baylee’s Possee,” (see photo) named for eighth-grader Baylee Hale (shown in the photo to the right), daughter of one of Noble’s friends, who participated.

“It was a great turnout,” said Noble.  “Nobody expected to see so many people.”  Among participants were individuals dressed as the Klement’s “racing sausages,” and “Bucky Badger.”

Noble’s personal donation will be matched by Ipswitch iCare.

Ipswitch iCare team helps Room To Grow with “seasonal switch” as 20-hour challenge gets underway


Ipswitch volunteers at Room To Grow

Ipswitch volunteers help with "seasonal switch"

Volunteers from Ipswitch, Inc.  took time out of the office this week to help Room to Grow with its “seasonal switch.”

Boston-based Room to Grow’s innovative program provides parents raising babies in poverty with one-on-one parenting support and essential baby items throughout their child’s critical first three years of life.  During Room to Grow’s bi-annual Seasonal Switch more than 100 volunteers from different corporate groups lent a helping hand to pack up summer gear for storage, and replace it with winter wear to serve more than 300 babies and their families.

Ipswitch, Inc.’s Network Management Division is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the company with a new community service program called “Twenty4Twenty.” The goal of the program is for every Ipswitch Network Management employee to complete 20 hours of community service during the next year with a charitable organization of their choice. Room to Grow was one of the first beneficiaries of this service program.

(Thanks to Elizabeth Chernack of RoomToGrow for the photo) 

Ipswitch volunteers help feed needy families in 9-11 day of service

Apply decals

Applying decals

BOSTON — Some 40 Ipswitch Inc. employees were among those volunteering to join a Red Sox-affiliated foundation in giving up to 200 needy Boston children and family members a hearty lunch and a much-needed chance to socialize. The Foundation To Be Named Later (FTBNL), the Red Sox affiliate, organized the event as part of a national day of service to mark the 9-11 World Trade Center terrorist tragedy.

For the Saturday, Sept. 10 luncheon, FTBNL reached out to a charity which helps infants in poverty — Room To Grow — to help organize and support the luncheon at the Bank of America Pavilion at the Waterfront Seaport in South Boston.  Other beneficiaries and invitees to the luncheon were coming from the West End House Boys and Girls Club and Horizons for Homeless Children. Six Boston-area restaurants were donating nourishing food and catering the event, along with water and juices donated by Nestle.

Parents raising babies in poverty face many challenges including isolation and lack of resources, say organizers of the event. A special social gathering over lunch can provide meaningful social connections and much-needed respite.

Some of the Ipswitch volunteers

Some of the Ipswitch volunteers

FTBNL is an Ipswitch iCare partner.  The Ipswitch volunteers are helping serve lunch, and to entertain the infants and families through things like face painting, balloon animals and music.  Other Ipswitch team members not attending donated such items as toys, feeding and toddler supplies, clothes, furniture and books.

(Click on additional photos courtesy of Ennio Carboni) :


 

Forging a new currency for philanthropy –
Jim Stevens and the the GiftsToGive story

LAUNCH VIDEO FROM BELOW


GiftsToGive logoNEW BEDFORD, Mass. — In a former textile mill alongside the harbor where Herman Melville set “Moby Dick,” Jim Stevens, who once sold salad dicers on late night UHF television, is inventing a new way to tackle poverty.

Jim Stevens, founder, GiftsToGive.org

Jim Stevens / GiftsToGive.org

Stevens founded the non-profit GiftsToGive.org three years ago. On the surface, it’s a warehouse through which clothes, toys, books, infant gear, art, craft and school supplies are recycled and given to the needy in some of the poorest sections of southeastern Massachusetts.

“But there’s more,” Stevens smiles and says with the same enthusiasm he used to summon when selling cutlery and kitchen gadgets which made him a fortune in the 1980s. GiftsToGive is not primarily about the gifts given to the kids. It’s also about the gift of time given by more than 12,000 teens and youth a year who come through the South Cove Mill.

GiftsToGive drive sign“I wanted to develop a model that attracted thousands and thousands and thousands of kids from both sides of the tracks to share a common goal and to, in essence, teach a new kind of civic engagement, a new kind of philanthropy,” says Stevens. “I like to call it tangible philanthropy.” By that, Stevens means philanthropy that involves giving of self — work, time, commitment — in addition to or instead of giving money.

A key part of Stevens vision is to connect Baby Boomer retirees with youth — both privileged and needy — to together commit acts of volunteer public service. The result is GiftsToGive — a non-profit enterprise that is student powered but adult-volunteer managed and which involved 12,000 students over the last year plus 4,000 adults, says Stevens.

Inspiration signs fill windows at the GiftsToGive mill

Inspiration signs fill windows at the GiftsToGive mill

“There are a million boomers a month coming offline and I will make you a case that a percentage of them have lived a healthy lifestyle. They have their health, thank God, they’ve managed their money, they’re at the pinnacle of their skill set — and what are they going to do, play golf? How much golf can you play? How many hobbies can you have? And for us as a society to take and not use that resource seems to me almost criminal.”

Supervised by retirees — also volunteers — the work of taking in, sorting, repairing, cleaning and packaging gently used materials is the bigger point of Stevens’ effort. He’s trying to create a culture — and a non-profit business — which depends upon the kindness and support of volunteer seniors and youth — to help those who can’t help themselves. “We’ve converted an old mill into a repurposing center,” Stevens says.

Gift packs for needy youth ready for distribution

On a hot July 20, 2011 day when we visited, there were 40 kids ages 5-9 from a summer camp, 8-9 girls from a lock down facility in Taunton, 15 high-school students who come for academic tutoring in the morning followed by two hours of volunteer service — and 21 teenagers from the New Bedford city summer program for urban gardening. Plus a half-dozen handicapped adults and a nine-member summer internship leadership corps — the folks running the mill operation — ranging from a junior at elite Smith College in Northampton, Mass., to a seventh-grader from New Bedford.

Stevens calls himself a child of privilege, raised in a Boston South Shore suburb. He spent his 20s as a black-suit cosmetic-industry salesman, then decided to become an entrepreneur. By age 32, he had made enough money to early retire, raised his two sons — one autistic — and then emerged to taken on charitable projects.

As a teen, he recalls now, he didn’t understand social injustice. “I watched Dr. [Martin Luther] King change his focus from civil rights to poverty. And I couldn’t understand it. I was amazed by that. And as a 16-year-old I came to realize that poverty was the problem. Poverty is what’s choking us and it’s killing us all. And it was a wake-up call for me at 16.”

In this 44-minute video - the first 3 minutes, 43 seconds give a good overview, Stevens tells the story of GiftsToGive.org, walking us through the recycling, repurposing mill, and introducing us to the students and adults who are among his key volunteer team. GiftsToGive is a member of the Ipswitch iCare family of philanthropies. To request a DVD with a higher-resolution version of the Gifts To Give story, email bdensmore@ipswitch.com.

Forging a new currency for philanthropy — Jim Stevens and the the GiftsToGive story from Bill Densmore on Vimeo.

Seeking to maintain ‘real culture’ in virtual business, Ipswitch underwrites 20th-anniversary gathering for 485 employees, friends, families

Ipswitch at 20 years

Ipswitch at 20 years

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LEXINGTON, Mass. – Data files, networks and messages. Eleven offices. It’s a virtual business at Ipswitch, Inc. But for four days this week, company founder and CEO Roger C. Greene says the business will be real, and social – in Florida.
 
This fall – Sept. 12 – Ipswitch will mark 20 years in business. On Thursday, some 485 people – almost all of the private company’s employees, plus invited friends and family – will converge on one of the nation’s most elegant resort hotels for a four-day celebration of the past two decades – and face-to-face chances to talk about the fast-growing company’s future.

Roger C. Greene, Ipswitch, Inc. CEO/founder

Roger C. Greene

Greene sees the time, travel and tab at The Breakers in Palm Beach, Fla., as an investment in Ipswitch’s employees and company culture. “It’s intended to bring us closer as an organization through both formal and informal time together,” says Greene, 53, who founded Ipswitch in his apartment in 1991 with less than $100,000, and no banking or venture-capital support. Growth was funded internally.

Management gurus have studied the communication challenges of “virtual” corporations. As Ipswitch has grown organically and by acquisitions  –  to almost 300 employees, five U.S. and six worldwide offices and affiliates  – Greene and top managers have sought to maintain a sense of community and teamwork.

Will the Florida trip help? Ipswitch managers hope so. Employees are being encouraged to publicly “tweet,” blog and photograph the experience. Enterprise customers have been asked to understand there will be two days of limited support (although a support “command center” and hotlines are being set up in the hotel).

“Throughout the weekend, you will get the opportunity to meet or catch up with the people you usually work with via e-mail and telephone,” Greene wrote in an email to employees in February. “There will be plenty of down time between scheduled events and activities at which kids are welcome.”

Millions of people worldwide use Ipswitch software to securely transfer files, manage IT infrastructures and communicate via messaging. The practical software works easily for network administrators, managers and users in organizations of all sizes.  Three years ago the company split its operations into three distinct divisions – one for each product class – and Greene named presidents for each. He says the impact has been “profoundly positive.”

One result so far: Two of the fastest-growth years since the company’s founding, including five separate acquisitions during the period.  In April, Ipswitch headquarters moved a half-mile down the road in Lexington to a larger building, under the approach path to a Hanscom Field runway – and next door to the company’s 1990s-era office building.

“Our potential exists because of our managers, our customer base, our reputation, our brands and our technology,” says Greene. “Our 19 years of continuous profit and growth, our stronger-than-ever market position and potential – this is all cause for celebration!”

The Florida trip isn’t the first off-site teambuilding effort for Ipswitch. Ten years ago, when it was a much smaller company, Greene took everyone on a sea cruise.  Longtime employees still talk about it. Now, while celebrating in Florida, Greene’s team is working to manage the growth, maintain a close  relationship with customers and communities, and welcome new employees and acquisitions.

Last year, Greene started experimenting with blogging in his own voice on the corporate website.  Because the company is hiring, it’s looking for ways to, as Greene puts it, “attract smart, ambitious people who share our values, which emphasize honesty, integrity and treating people with respect.”

iCare charitable-support program

iCare charitable support

Ipswitch has been recognized repeatedly for its commitment to give five percent of profits to charity. It does this partly by matching employee’s own donations and by giving each employee $500 for charitable gifts.  It focuses the company’s own giving primarily on services which benefit youth and teens, both local to Ipswitch offices and around the world. One Ipswitch division designates a particular charity, and then gives employees paid time off to help it.  Another division donates to Trees for Life every time one of its software products is purchased.  By 2007, the company recorded $1 million in cumulative giving to more than 100 charities and is now past $2.5 million.

 

Boston Business Journal "Best Places" winner

Boston Business Journal award

The new office includes a spacious kitchen, complete with a fireplace, and two sets of sinks and stoves for home-style cooking — intended to serve as a spot to nurture informal meeting, conversation – and healthy  food.  An open house is planned.

 

While Greene ponders how to maintain a community-centered corporate culture amid business growth and success, there is evidence the effort is working.  On May 3, for the second year in a row, Ipswitch was named one of the best places in Boston to work by the Boston Business Journal.

About Ipswitch, Inc.

Founded in 1991, privately held Ipswitch, Inc. is headquartered in Lexington, Mass., with research and development and sales offices in Georgia, Michigan, Utah and Wisconsin, and distributors, resellers and OEMs in Asia, Europe, North America and South America. In addition to developing world-class software, Ipswitch values community involvement. Visit http://icare.ipswitch.com to find out how to become involved.  Ipswitch, Inc., has three divisions:


LINK: Downloadable Ipswitch wordmark logo for news purposes only

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A home-like space for friends in an oncology ward — the Jen Di Reeno Lounge at Tufts Medical Center

Jen Di Reeno

Jen Di Reeno's decade-old portrait

When Jen Di Reeno died of complications from a rare skin cancer 11 years ago, her teen-age and young-adult friends turned their grief into determination.

They created the Jen Di Reeno Foundation, to carry on the enthusiasm and purpose of the freckle-faced Reading woman.

On May 12 — what would have been Jen’s 33rd birthday — some 50 friends and family gathered in an oncology wing of Tufts Medical Center for a dedication of “Jen’s Lounge” — a stylish oasis of quiet and sanity for teen cancer patients and their families.

Kim Di Reeno and her mother, Patty

Kim Di Reeno and her mom, Patty

In the lounge, a patient can spend time with visitors on their hospital room floor — in a comfy, living room-like setting complete with high-tech entertainment and learning tools.

Besides the family lounge, the Di Reeno Foundation, with support from Ipswitch and its employees, has built two prototype portable bedside, web-enabled computer work/play stations for Tufts oncology patients. Called “Freckles,” the units consist of a sturdy, two-inch steel pole on a four-wheel stand. Mounted on the pole are a computer monitor which slides up or or down to adjust view angle, a tray which holds a keyboard and mouse, and a desktop computer and related operating gear near the bottom of the pole.

Tara Finnigan beside the "Freckles" mobile bedside computer work/play station

Tara Finnigan and "Freckles"

The units are so popular that other wards and floors at Tufts Medical Center keep asking the teen oncology unit to borrow them. Foundation board members, including Jen’s childhood friend Tara Finnigan, are now considering whether it would be possible to obtain government or foundation grants and partner with a company to manufacture the “Freckles” units for other hospitals.

About the foundation
The mission of the Jen Di Reeno Foundation is to support teens and young adults by providing ways to heal from grief caused by the presence of cancer, other serious illness, and life’s critical challenges.

These photos were taken at the dedication ceremony by Bill Densmore in support of donations to the Foundation by Ipswitch and its employees.

WATCH AN 11-MINUTE VIDEO:
vimeo.com/23731195

VIEW MORE PHOTOS:
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Jen Di Reeno Foundation Inc.
51 Parkview Road
Reading MA 01867
info@jendireeno.org
www.jendireeno.org