Bess Cohn Humanitarian Award Nominee - A Common Cause
BDA Values Family Of Employees
As a company, Top 40 distributor BDA Inc. (asi/137616), based in Woodinville, WA, highly values the BDA family of employees. So it was particularly heartbreaking when longtime member Susan Brockert was a fatal victim of domestic violence during a company trip in May 2011.
"We were devastated, and it opened our eyes to the prevalence of domestic violence and the alarming trends of this national epidemic," says Jay Deutsch, BDA's CEO and co-founder. "We've realized that it doesn't discriminate based on race, religion or socioeconomic status."
In the months after Brockert's death, BDA launched BDA Cares, the official philanthropic arm of the company, in order to expand its humanitarian efforts. Its main catalyst was the Susan's Rock initiative, established to raise awareness of the importance of establishing support networks for victimized women and their children, improving the criminal justice system and enforcing protective laws.
This isn't BDA's first foray into the world of charitable giving. In 1984, the first order for co-founders Jay Deutsch and Eric Bensussen included NFL-licensed sweatshirts advertising the Seattle Seahawks as "Alaska's Team," to be sold in Anchorage. A dollar per shirt sold went to the American Diabetes Association. Since then, Deutsch and Bensussen have made altruism a key element of the company's operations.
Today, the main concentration of BDA Cares, in addition to raising awareness for the prevalence of domestic violence, is working to find a cure for ovarian cancer; since 2000, BDA has supported the Marsha Rivkin Center for Ovarian Cancer Research in Seattle. "Our employees spend two weeks each spring raising money through internal auctions, bake sales, car washes, karaoke contests, raffles and other fun events," says Deutsch. "Plus, BDA matches the total funds raised."
In the two years since Brockert's death, the National Advocacy & Training Network in Arizona has received $125,000 from BDA to open Susan's House. "It's not only a safe place for survivors and their children," says Deutsch. "Residents also benefit from job training, support groups, legal advocacy, counseling, financial management and other services that promote long-term self-sufficiency."
In January, BDA hosted the second annual Rock the Needle event to support domestic violence awareness and prevention. Eighty employees earned the opportunity to climb Seattle's famous Space Needle in honor of Brockert. "Prior to the climb, we announced a $75,000 donation to Domestic Violence Services of Snohomish County, WA," says Deutsch. "They'll use the funds to build Susan's Youth Center at a new facility, which will house the largest shelter for domestic abuse victims in the state."
Even with a full schedule, the BDA team shows no sign of slowing down. According to Deutsch, it's imperative that the company give back. "There are so many inspiring organizations serving our communities every day that can benefit from our time, resources, energy and experience," he says. "We truly believe good business and philanthropy can and should go hand in hand. Giving back is a way to bring us closer together. To know we're making an impact is incredibly rewarding."