Photos by Hillary Ehlen
With the 18th annual RDO Caters Taters event last week, we wanted to give you a better look into the partnership between RDO Equipment Co./R.D. Offut Company and the chosen charity for the year: CCRI.
Fargo INC! sat down with Shannon Bock, Lindsay Paulson and Jessi Zenker to discuss CCRI’s intention with funds raised, what makes the relationships between RDO Equipment Co. and the beneficiaries they serve so impactful and how they plan to carry on that connection for years to come.
What is CCRI?
Shannon Bock: First of all, CCRI stands for Creative Care for Reaching Independence. We support children and adults with disabilities in our community. We provide support in 35 homes on a 24-hour basis and also support 265 families and/or individuals in their own home. Support could be anything from basic care such as personal hygiene to caring for individuals with high medical needs or behavioral challenges. Every day is different for every one of our 550 team members.
Is this charity event unique for CCRI?
Bock: Yes, and the most unique part of it is that someone else is doing the bulk of the work. I hate to say it that way, but we put a lot of time and energy into our fundraising events. When we aren’t doing all the behind-the-scenes work we can really focus on involving everyone at CCRI in the event.
Why did you decide to apply and where will the proceeds go?
Bock: We decided to apply because we knew we could make a difference with any dollars that were raised. The state takes care of the basics, but we know people don’t just want to live a basic life. They want to have something much more than that. They have goals and dreams just like we do, and we want to have the opportunity to be able to help them.
The funds that will be raised will go directly back to help support our folks so they can have those life-altering moments. For some, it might be the prom we host each year. For other people, it might be that they are trying to get back on their feet or reemployed. It’s all about people having the best lives possible.
What is the purpose behind Caters Taters?
Jessi Zenker: What started as a small way to get involved in giving back to our community has grown into a large event that our employees really rally behind. Our goal is to make an impact on the charity with dollars raised, and to build a lasting relationship with that organization. This event is one of the ways we give back to our community, too. RDO Caters Taters is separate from the traditional giving we continue to do on a regular basis.
One of the ways our event is so unique is that we support a different charity every year and through our work, we learn more about the work nonprofits do in Fargo-Moorhead. Our employees benefit from that and gain awareness from organizations like CCRI. When we partner with them, we get hands-on experience, working side-by-side with them, learning what the funds raised at the event will help them do. It’s an exciting thing to be a part of.
What stands out to you in the application process when you are choosing a charity for that year?
Zenker: There’s a lot of things we evaluate when choosing a charity, but one thing we look at is the ability for the charity to be involved in the process – which might include communicating it to their networks, selling raffle tickets, and volunteering the day of. While we try to do all the heavy lifting, we’ve found it’s much more beneficial when the charity gets involved and has fun in the process with us.
How do these short-term partnerships extend into long-term?
Lindsay Paulson: As employees, we get a vested interest in the charities we work with each year. For example, last year’s benefiting charity was YWCA Cass Clay. Jessi and I were really excited to volunteer for a different event the YWCA was doing this year because we had such a great relationship with them last year, and I think it would be interesting to see over the years how many of our other employees stay involved with the other charities.
Zenker: Every charity we’ve worked with through RDO Caters Taters has a special place in my heart because we’ve partnered with them in such a unique way. And through our charitable giving committee, we continue to look at ways we can be involved with these organizations. We’ve been supporting CCRI for several years so have been aware of their work. To support them on this level is really exciting, and it’ll be fun to see how we can continue to work with them in the future.
Paulson: CCRI came into one of our very first committee meetings to talk with us and explain their mission. I feel it gets our employees even more excited to participate in the event when they understand what they’re volunteering and putting in effort for.
What about CCRI? Do you view a future in your partnership with RDO?
Bock: I’d love to see it continue. It’s not about the dollars, it’s about those relationships we form. Volunteers become super close with the people we support and they come back years and years. A great example is we host a client appreciation meal every year. A boy scout troop that started volunteering when they were young boys are now teenagers still coming back to volunteer. Once people get ingrained with our people and see the difference they can make through those small things, it truly makes a difference for them and they want to stay vested with us.
One year, one day, an impact that lasts a lifetime.
Zenker: Anyone who has spent time on an event knows the amount of time and energy and yes – stress – that goes into one day. But this event’s impact is more than just one day or one luncheon. As RDO team members, we are energized and inspired because we know that every dollar raised will go to help enrich the lives of the clients CCRI serves. To see the work that their team does for individuals and families in our community makes us know that this event will help make a difference. And we’re just grateful to play a role.
CCRI’S LIFE ENRICHMENT PROGRAM
The funds from the RDO Caters Taters event will go toward CCRI’s Life Enrichment Program.
YOUR DOLLARS AT WORK
- $25 provides toiletries for a person moving from a shelter to permanent housing.
- $50 pays for one month of a gym membership
- $75 provides therapeutic materials-art therapy, music therapy, etc.
- $230 supports an entire year of activities in our Life Enrichment Program for one person eager to learn
- $275 sponsors a team in the CCRI Adaptive Softball League
- $650 provides three days of camping for one eager camper
- $1,250 provides training opportunities for new caregivers so they can reach their full potential and provide outstanding, consistent care to the people we support