October 2010

November 2010: CHARITY CORNER - Progressive Technology, Charity Outreach

Author: Special To C2 Magazine | Photographer: Photography by Anne

This company probably needs no introduction. Founded by Tony DeMarzo and Tyson Miller in 2001, Progressive Technology has been constructing and supporting computer networks, websites and office communications systems around Hilton Head Island and Bluffton for almost a decade. If you’re in business and you use computers (duh!), chances are you’ve met these guys.

But what they’ve been doing lately to help build our community is new and something you’ll want to know about if you are involved in non-profit or charity work.

Just ask Sea Pines Montessori’s head of school, Darcie Patrick: “I can’t say enough about the men and women at Progressive. They’ve made our lives at the school so much better, and I just want to thank them.”

Patrick was speaking of improvements to the school’s IT systems that Progressive provided at no charge as part of their CharITy Outreach Program. A longtime member of the local business community, the folks at Progressive recognize that IT services are just as mission-critical to non-profit organizations as they are to for-profit businesses, but affordability can be an issue for the non-profit segment. “We’re just trying to help build a better community,” said Progressive’s project manager Randy Levine.

“We started thinking about it at the end of last year. We had been doing a lot of charity work already, and organizations would come to us and say, ‘Hey, can you guys donate something to a charity auction, or can you do this or that?’ We decided that we couldn’t do as good a job as we wanted because everything we did was kind of piecemeal. That was the first thing that started the discussion: How can we do a better job?

“So we came up with an idea that would formalize it. The idea was, have the local community tell us what charities they thought were most deserving and needed our expertise. From that we would select.”

So it’s the community at large who actually drive Progressive’s selection by making suggestions for eligible charities via the company’s website and Facebook and Twitter pages. Likewise, Progressive keeps fans and followers apprised of the selection process through the social networks.

The current CharITy Outreach beneficiary is Operation R&R, which gives U.S. Military Service men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan a chance to rest and reconnect with their families with a relaxing stay on Hilton Head Island. “We’re giving them a website re-design,” said Levine, “and we’re working on that right now.”

To-date, Progressive has assisted three other organizations through CharITy Outreach: The David M. Carmines Memorial Foundation, Sea Pines Montessori, and Camp Leo.

“They were our first,” said Levine. “We selected them because we wanted an organization that touched the community at a higher level, and they’re heavily involved with the Rec Center.”

The Foundation needed a complete website overhaul. What they had prior to Progressive stepping in was at best amateur, according to chairman Andrew Carmines.

“In about two weeks, we had a brand new website,” said Carmines. “They got things like the navigation where we needed them to be, and gave us a much more professional appearance.”

In addition to the Hilton Head Island Recreation Association, the Foundation supports the American Cancer Society and the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

Visit davidmcarmines.org

Sea Pines Montessori needed more of an internal solution. Lacking the budget to install an optimal IT network and applications for the school’s entire operation, administrative staff were left with a sub-par working environment.

“We always put our money into the children and our budget was spent on smart boards and computers for the classrooms, said Patrick. “Our administration was working without a network, and the classrooms could not communicate with each other.”

Progressive installed a new wireless network to get the whole school connected and, as a security measure, put in an enterprise-level filtering system to put some controls on Internet access. The filter prevents students (and staff) from spending time on social media and other—possibly dangerous in the case of the students—places on the Web. “For us it’s all about the safety of the children,” said Patrick.

Learn more at spma.com.

Camp Leo is a Lions Club-run charity that provides a summer camp experience for South Carolina’s visually impaired children. Without a website, the organization lacked the online presence that is so critical to reaching potential donors and eligible campers.

The need for such a presence became even more evident when Camp Leo began planning for its first annual fundraising golf tournament to be held last September. “We live in such an Internet-savvy world; you’ve got to have a place where people can go to learn what the organization is all about and find out how to get involved with the tournament,” said Alan Arseneau of Bishop Eye Associates, the tournament’s organizer.

Progressive built Camp Leo’s website from the ground up, “and we did it in three weeks,” said Arseneau. “They provide a great business service and a great outreach program for charities.”

Visit campleo.net.

The criteria to qualify for CharITy Outreach are fairly simple. “You have to be a non-profit charity and local,” said Levine. “We try to keep it open to as many organizations as possible.”

Progressive will be taking nominations for its next beneficiary in December and will make its selection in January. After that, one organization will be selected each quarter. Levine stresses, though, if your organization is not selected, it will remain in the nomination pool for possible future selection.

To make nominations, visit progressivetechnology.net.

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