On May 4, 2018, we had mixed emotions as we said goodbye to Patsy O'Brien, who has entered her new "career" as a retiree! Patsy joined Smith & Howard in our somewhat early days - 1987 - as the Firm Administrator. As the firm grew, so did Patsy. She became our Chief Operating Officer in 2008. Along the way, she coached and mentored many of us and became in many ways the heart and soul of the firm.
Before joining Smith & Howard, Patsy spent 15 years with a CPA firm in Tennessee. She remains to this day a solid Tennessee Vols fan and an Atlanta Braves fan.
Pictured below is our administrative and operations group as we saluted Patsy on her last day at the firm. Patsy, thank you for all you have done for Smith & Howard!
In November, the Smith & Howard firm members gathered at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens for a firm-wide retreat. The purpose of this retreat was to celebrate our accomplishments during 2017 while also focusing on communication and collaboration as we move into 2018. We enjoyed a delicious breakfast and lunch together and participated in a series of exercises that stretched our minds and bodies. These exercises reinforced that we are ONE team, and a great one, at that. Following the retreat, we enjoyed time together and all of the beauty the Atlanta Botanical Gardens has to offer. Click here to view some pictures from our retreat.
In June, we hosted our annual Chefs for Shep cookout for the patients and caregivers at the Shepherd Center. The Shepherd Center is a private, nonprofit hospital specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, spine and chronic pain, and other neuromuscular conditions. Many thanks to professional photographer, Marc Risik, who captured this year's cookout. See the photo album below. 2017 Shepherd Center
"Let us put our minds together and see what life we can make for our children."
In December 2016, the firm announced that its annual charitable contribution was going to Camp Twin Lakes. Having volunteered on a firm-wide and individual basis at Camp Twin Lakes in the past, the employees of Smith & Howard understand and feel strongly that their contribution will be well used in the organization's effort to make life better for Georgia's children with disabilities, serious illnesses and other life challenges. It is our hope that as many children as possible are able to say, as one camper did, "365 days a year I can't walk, but at Camp Twin Lakes, I can fly."
Each year, before busy season kicks it into full force, we hold our annual State of the Firm meeting. In this year’s meeting we discussed 2015 accomplishments and 2016 goals by department. The focus throughout the meeting was growth: passionate service drives our growth. Each department is an important part of the Smith & Howard family and has contributed to the growth of the firm.
In spite of our growth, we have focused on maintaining a strong family-like culture while achieving our goals. While new business to clients is very important, building strong and trustful relationships with our clients is even more important. Three individuals from Smith & Howard and two from Smith & Howard Wealth Management took time to provide examples of passionate client service and the results that followed. Every department is an important part of the Smith & Howard family and everyone has engaged in the success of the firm. 2015 was a great year, but 2016 promises to be even better.
One of our core values is People: We recognize without the best people, we cannot be the best firm. Our values guide our charitable giving and this year is no different.
Smith & Howard is leading the way in engaging our young Atlanta citizens to become interested in accounting and finance careers. It is important to them, to the future of our firm and to our city. They will be the accountants, financial planners and leaders of the future.
To that end, we have established a fund for six City of Atlanta high school students interested in accounting or finance to receive scholarships in 2016.
We are grateful to you, our clients, friends and family, for your support over the past year. Best wishes for a happy and prosperous new year.
The Employees of Smith & Howard
Heart disease and stroke kill 1 woman every 80 seconds. On February 5th we supported the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women campaign by participating in National Wear Red Day. Members of our staff wore red to increase awareness and recognition of the Metro Atlanta American Heart Association’s efforts. To learn more behind this campaign, click here.
On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month was the moment World War I had come to an end in 1918. One of the most destructive periods in U.S. history had finally stopped. That same month U.S. President Woodrow Wilson declared this day to be the first commemoration of Armistice Day and seven months later the war was officially over with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919.
Today is a national holiday of remembrance, a day to honor the duty, sacrifice and service of more than 20 million American veterans. At Smith & Howard we want to thank all of the brave men and women who serve our country, including long-time client, Steve Martin.
Steve Martin comes from a family of Veterans, including his late father who was a Marine. Steve served in the Army as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam in the mid 1960s. About five months into his tour in Vietnam, Steve’s group received an on again, off again (then on again) call to evacuate soldiers from the battlefield. During the evacuation, the blade of another helicopter came too close and severed the cockpit of Steve’s helicopter. The blade killed the pilot and Steve (as the copilot), landed the plane before it could spin out of control. Once down, the exit door was unusable but the front window was blown out, enabling Steve to climb through the window, down and over the wreckage. The accident cost Steve his left hand and part of one leg.
He was later moved to Walter Reeves Hospital for recovery and rehab, and it was there that his life took a happy turn. He met and fell in love with his physical therapist, Judy. As Steve says, “I saw this nice looking woman. She made Captain ahead of me and so she IS ‘The Captain’.” He also says she is a “real trooper.”
After recovering, Steve and Judy married in the chapel at Walter Reed right before discharge and then moved to Atlanta where he completed law school at Emory University. Steve’s law firm and Smith & Howard have shared many clients over the year, and Steve has been an important and much loved client of our firm for decades.
When asked if there was something specific Steve would like for our readers to know about Veterans, he asked us to tell you about the Atlanta Vietnam Veterans Business Association (AVVBA.org). Steve was part of the group that started this great organization. The purpose of AVVBA is “to promote patriotism and sponsor activities of a patriotic nature among the business community, to recognize those who served and honor those who gave their lives in the Vietnam War, and to promote the positive image of the Vietnam Veteran, their dependents and the widows and orphans of deceased Vietnam veterans.” The AVVBA has partnered with the Atlanta History Center and others to “develop the Vietnam Legacy Project which seeks to accurately preserve and communicate the contribution that Vietnam Veterans have made to our community and our country.” The Veterans Park at the Atlanta History Center is a must-see for Atlantans and visitors.
Many thanks to Steve for sharing his story with us and for Jim Howard for making sure that we understand and recognize Steve’s service. As Jim said, “We appreciate Steve's loyalty and especially his brave service to our country.”
Recognize the Sacrifice
Today, we want to recognize the heroic accomplishments of all the Purple Heart recipients. On this day in 1782, the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, George Washington, created the Badge of Military Merit, known as the Purple Heart medal. The medal acknowledges the courage, sacrifice and heroic efforts combat-wounded veterans displayed throughout their time of service. This designation is the oldest U.S. military decoration in existence today.
Smith & Howard wants to pay tribute and thank all Purple Heart recipients and two in particular: Edwin Harman III, Chief Warrant Officer 4, and Sgt. Bernard C. Rogers. The stories below reflect the heroic efforts of the men we are especially thankful for.
Edwin Harman III, Chief Warrant Officer 4
Recognize the Sacrifice
Sgt. Bernard C. Rogers
Leatia Redmond’s grandfather, Sgt. Bernard C. Rogers, and his brother Lysle, were members of the US Army 5th Ranger Battalion. They were part of an elite group that was flown to Normandy, France and dropped behind enemy lines. Bernard was awarded the Purple Heart on July 21, 1944 (the day Leatia’s mother was born) for gunshot injuries sustained during the Normandy Invasion. He died from his wounds on June 6,1945 and is buried at the Lorraine American Cemetery in St. Avold, France. His brother Lysle lived until age 91.
For father's day, our staff shared some of the best advice they've received from their fathers. A surprising number of fathers have found it important to give advice on tools, cars and frequency of oil changes. Enjoy other bits of fatherly advice in these images.
In the days leading up to Mother's Day, we are celebrating by sharing some of the serious and not-so-serious advice our employees have received from their moms (or grandmothers, or other women who have influenced them). Here are images from Day 1 and Day 2. Some helpful advice for life includes:
Never have less than 1/4 tank of gas in your car.
Be kind to everyone. You never know what they are going through.
Do what you say you're going to do.
And one of our favorites: Just go out with him. You don't have to marry him. (She did go out with him, and she did marry him!)
This year, under the guidance of Kim Collier and Cynthia Sims, and with apparently some avid shoe buyers in the firm, we gathered 186 shoeboxes for the United Way's Shoebox Campaign. Each shoebox was beautifully decorated and filled with items needed (but taken for granted by most of us) for homeless women and children.
When we moved into our new space in November of 2014, we held a contest to see who could come up with the best names for our conference rooms. The winning idea was to name each room after a Georgia state symbol. The Azalea, Peach, Brown Thrasher and Peanut conference rooms as well as our board room named for our two founding partners are each highlighted in this short video. Take a look by clicking on the image below.
Each year, our incoming interns participate in a community service project before they get too deeply involved in busy season work. This year, their project was with Sheltering Arms. This enthusiastic group of accounting students created literacy kits and custom designed packages to distribute to classrooms - check out their work in the photo! We have also made Sheltering Arms the beneficiary of our first quarter Jeans Day conributions.
Sheltering Arms is Georgia's oldest nonprofit early childhood education program, and one of its most respected. This great organization provides working families with high quality, affordable child care and education and comprehensive support services, as well as professional development for early childhood educators and community outreach. Founded by Atlanta volunteers in 1888, Sheltering Arms annually serves more than 3,600 children, ages six weeks to five years old, and their families, in 15 centers in 6 metro Atlanta counties.
As we have for several years, we are kicking off the new year with an evening of food sorting and packaging (and camaraderie) at the Atlanta Community Food Bank. We will make a night of it, gathering at the Food Bank's location on Joseph Lowery Boulevard, then dining at our usual restaurant, Figo, for a late dinner. Our Community Service Committee met today to get the ball rolling on our 2015 community service projects. Look for updates throughout the year!
Each year in December, Smith & Howard makes a contribution to a nonprofit organization whose mission or current needs strike a chord with us. In 2014, along with the closing of another year, we are honoring the closing of a chapter in our partnership. Anita LeFevre, a tax partner with the firm since 2000, has begun to enjoy her retirement. In Anita's honor, we have made contributions to two great organizations.
The first is the Atlanta Ronald McDonald House Charities (ARMHC). The Atlanta Ronald McDonald House has seen a significant increase in demand for their space and services by families who need a place to stay while their ill or injured children are being cared for at nearby hospitals. In the past three years, ARMHC has had to turn away 650 families because there simply was not enough space to accommodate them. Fortunately, the ARMHC has received a challenge grant of $2.5 million, which requires a significant effort to find matching contributions within our community. Smith & Howard is pleased to play a small role in their efforts. You can read more about the Atlanta Ronald McDonald Charities here.
Our other charity is the Myotonic Dystrophy Foundation. The MD Foundation is dedicated to "Care and a Cure" for Myotonic Dystrophy, a genetic disorder that affects many parts of the body and that is not well understood yet in the medical community. We invite you to learn more about the Myotonic Dystrophy Foundation's good work here.
Happy holidays to you and yours from all of us at Smith & Howard!
We've had "Jeans Fridays" for several years now and have raised many thousands of dollars for Georgia nonprofits. Each year, we select four nonprofit organizationsto be quarterly beneficiaries of our Jeans Friday. Employees who choose to wear jeans on Friday make a $5 donation. At the end of each quarter, those donations are tallied and donated to that quarter's nonprofit. For the third quarter of 2014, our beneficiary is Sophia Academy. Sophia Academy is "A Marist Catholic school providing personalized education tailored to meet student needs and instilling in each a quest for excellence." In addition to the academy's excellent academic curriculum, they also offer a fine arts program and athletics. We are very pleased to be supporting Sophia Academy this quarter.
Our summer community service initiative involves two worthy organizations and thousands of Atlantans who are seeking a brighter future. We are collecting professional clothing for men and women who are seeking employment as they transition from homelessness to self sufficiency. The beneficiary of the men's clothing is GeorgiaWorks, an organization that takes "chronically homeless men and helps them become self sufficient, productive members of society." The women's clothing will be used by United Way of Greater Atlanta in their program of employment for women.
Recently, Smith & Howard employees gathered to host our fourth annual cookout for the Shepherd Center. Coordinated by the Community Service Committee and led by Shannon Mantovani, an event-capacity group of “Chefs for Shepherd” S&H
employees spent the evening grilling and serving hamburgers and hotdogs to the patients, their families and staff at the Shepherd Center. We not only provide all the food, we personally slice every tomato and onion, make the fruit salad, grill the burgers and hot dogs on the Shepherd outdoor grill, serve the meal and act as hosts. We grill and serve on average 700 burgers and hot dogs each year!
One of our most popular community service activities, Chefs for Shepherd provides our staff with an opportunity to interact with the patients and staff to hear their stories and gain inspiration from their optimism, determination and commitment. We are honored to be part of their lives for a few hours each year.
Some reflections on the evening from our Chefs:
“This was my first time at the Shepherd Center and I don’t think I have ever participated in an event where the recipients were so genuinely appreciative. I was humbled by the positive attitudes of the patients and their families.” (Debbie Rickett)
“Since my wife works for the Center I am constantly reminded of the importance of family involvement and support during the patient’s recovery. Supporting an event that allows the families to step outside and spend a few hours together as a family is truly powerful. Every year I am able to see firsthand the importance of our families during life’s most challenging times.” (Caleb Lloyd)
“The patients at the Shepherd Center are regular people who experienced a life-changing accident, something that could happen to any one of us. The patients, their families and the wonderful caregivers are some of the most positive and friendly people and I’m grateful to know and serve them.” (Leatia Redmon)
For more on the Shepherd Center, visit their site here.
Through Smith & Howard University, our internal educational program for all our employees, we provide a "Never stop learning" environment. Industry-required technical training is part and parcel of that program, but it extends far beyond that to leadership skills, business etiquette, public speaking, writing and even changing a flat tire. Our firm-wide book club reads business books ranging from Jim Collins to Seth Godin and has wide ranging and open conversations about how we can use the material in our own work.
We have a strong culture of community service. Our programs are guided by our Community Service Committee and include such activities as Atlanta Community Food Bank, Shepherd Center, Project Open Hand, Habitat for Humanity, United Way, TechBridge Digital Ball, MDA/Mansfield Oil Golf Tournament, Crossroads Ministries, Special Olympics Georgia / Bob Busse Golf Tournament, YWCA Women of Achievement event, and the (former) Cook School Adopt-A-Class Program. We have also had numerous collection drives for sports equipment, coats, clothes, used books and school supplies.
Our 40 for 40 campaign, a celebration of Smith & Howard's 40th anniversary in 2011, was an ambitious community service project. It involved Smith & Howard staff volunteers coordinating service projects to 40 nonprofit organizations over 12 months to celebrate our 40 years in business. So committed to this endeavor was our staff, that when the campaign ended, we had engaged 100% of our staff in at least one (and in most instances many) of those 40 projects. In October 2012, 40 for 40 was honored as the IMPACT Award winner for Community Service Project of the Year in the Small to Medium Business category by the Corporate Volunteer Council of Atlanta, and in June 2013 it was named winner of the national Association for Accounting Marketing Award for Best Corporate Social Responsibility Program.
We work hard, but we like to play hard, too. Our play has included paintball, whirlyball, kickball, Atlanta Braves games, Zoo Atlanta family nights and lots more. During our busiest time of year, we make sure to take breaks for firm-hosted ice cream cart days, manicures/pedicures and even massages. Oh, and bagels. We really like bagels.