Torch Helps, an employee-run and funded 501(c)(3) charitable organization, has provided dozens of grants to local charities since its inception in June 2005. As the company grew, it became apparent that an ad hoc approach to community involvement would be neither effective nor efficient. Co-founder and CEO Bill Roark realized the company needed a process for employees to donate time and money. Two employee-owners had separately approached Roark with their own visions for Torch’s charitable giving efforts. He challenged them to get together and develop an effective and efficient program. They divided up the research, looking into the financial aspects of a charitable organization and researching the governance, setup responsibilities, and an application and review process for charities. Torch Helps was the result of that challenge.
The 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, which was established June 16, 2005, is voluntarily funded and operated by Torch employees. It raises contributions for local charities through payroll deduction and designated gifts. The organization operates under the direction of a volunteer review board, which receives formal grant applications from charities that are then evaluated against a consistent set of questions to screen applicants. Applicants are also evaluated against the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance Standards for Charity Accountability. When a charity passes these standards, the charities are voted on by contributing employees. The highest calling in life is to help others. Torch supports our employees’ charitable efforts by covering all of the administrative costs of Torch Helps. Thus, 100% of the donations to Torch Helps goes to the organizations selected by the employees. Torch Helps believes that “Together Our Resources Can Help.” This captures the spirit and inspiration of Torch’s culture of giving.
Torch Helps awards one or more $10,000 grants quarterly, and a small grant/special grant program has also been added. In its 10th year in 2015, Torch Helps reached $500,000 in total donations with a grant presentation at the annual Torch Tailgate Cookout. Over the years, Torch Helps has awarded grants to more than 80 local charities within our communities. The first grant of $5,000 was presented to The ARC of Madison County Inc., which triggered a 2-to-1 federal match, resulting in a new car for the ARC. To date, Torch Helps has contributed $647,122 in direct grants to our local communities.
We were honored to present Community Free Dental Clinic a Winter 2017 large grant yesterday, and we are proud to support their mission to provide free dental services to low income, elderly and veterans in need in our Madison County community. To learn more about Community Free Dental Clinic, go to hsvfreedental.org/... See MoreSee Less
Thanks to our Torch in Action volunteers!Torch in Action recently volunteered at the Farley Boys and Girls Club helping them clean out and prepare a classroom to become a new STEM lab. We were proud to support the Boys and Girls Club in this effort, as they provide an invaluable service to our Huntsville community by offering support and mentoring, enabling young people to reach their full potential. We look forward to the Grand Opening of the STEM lab! ... See MoreSee Less
Just months after Torch Helps was established, one of its first efforts was assisting survivors of Hurricane Katrina around Waveland, MS, the hometown of a senior manager at Torch. “I knew I had to do something; I didn’t know what,” he said about learning of the devastation along the Gulf Coast. He soon headed to the Mississippi coast in his van, hauling a utility trailer with food, tents, clothing, gasoline, and propane tanks. After he returned to Huntsville, the urge to help still lingered, particularly a childhood friend who was the sheriff of a hard-hit area. The Torch senior manager appealed to Torch Helps, and the organization received significant contributions from Torch customers, colleagues, and original investors. Torch employees also collected items and put together care packages to send to disaster victims. In all, $10,000 in cash and equipment such as generators, chain saws, and propane tanks were donated to the relief effort. “The outpouring of support was phenomenal,” He said. “The generosity of Torch people was overwhelming.”
The Torch Helps team loads supplies bound for the gulf coast during Hurricane Katrina.
Torch Helps… A Pay It Forward Story
Torch Helps came to the rescue of local Boy Scouts after a Torch employee heard a local TV station’s Crime Stoppers report about the troop’s trailer and camping equipment being stolen. Torch Helps bought a new trailer for the troop, and a partner in the effort, Miltec, bought new camping supplies. Troop members and their parents gathered at Torch’s headquarters on Chris Drive, with the Boy Scouts believing they were there as part of a service mission to help with traffic control for a Torch open house.
When the new trailer was presented to the troop, “You didn’t have a dry eye in the house,” recalled Torch co-founder and CEO Bill Roark. That event is when Roark realized “we had created something special” with Torch Helps. The desire to provide a donated gift to the Scouts is even more special, Roark said, because it didn’t stop there. The Boy Scout troop in turn donated the camping supplies to a Boy Scout troop in a Mississippi community affected by Hurricane Katrina. But the “pay-it-forward” story still wasn’t complete. One of the troop members, a high school senior, wrote about Torch’s ethical practices and community involvement in an essay he submitted in a competition that’s part of the annual Torch Awards for Business Ethics. As a result of Torch’s donation, the company received its first nomination for the Better Business Bureau of North Alabama’s Torch Award for Business Ethics. When Torch was announced the winner during the award ceremony, Torch co-founder Don Holder accepted the award because Roark was so overcome with emotion. The award was “the perfect recognition of doing well for others,” Roark said.