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Better Future, Being Involved, and Giving Back—CETA Scholarship Foundation Trustees

Better Future, Being Involved, and Giving Back—CETA Scholarship Foundation Trustees

By Diane M. Calabrese / Published October 2022

Photo by iStockphoto.com/urfinguss

Better future. Being involved. Giving back. Future, involvement, and giving—the three are inextricably linked in the work of the CETA Scholarship Foundation. 

     The foundation provides a boost with scholarship assistance to those pursuing their educational goals and professional dreams. Its success derives from the commitment of the many members of our industry who have contributed their time and energy to make it so. 

     In the May CETA Edge column cited, Black, a trustee of the CETA Scholarship Foundation and a former CETA board member, joined other trustees and board members to tell us why they serve. Here, we delve a bit deeper into the present and history of the scholarship foundation.

     With the nine scholarships awarded in 2022–2023 (see the September 2022 article on the scholars), 152 scholarship awards totaling $444,000 have been made to date. Donations from members of CETA [Cleaning Equipment Trade Association] are the primary source of revenue for the foundation.

     Founded February 2, 1996, the foundation has a two-part mission. One is to sponsor scholarships. The other is to implement education, science, and research programs in the areas of management, technology, sales, and fields related to the cleaning industry. 

     The formation and launch of the foundation depended upon the work of many. The list of founding members is a veritable A to Z of well-known companies in our industry, too long to include here. Yet we would be remiss not to honor the leadership and support of Roy G. Chappell, the CEO of Chappell Supply and Equipment in Oklahoma City, OK, and the Chappell family, at the formation of the foundation and throughout the foundation’s growth. (Readers interested in a list of founding member companies can request it— a one-page pdf—by sending an email asking for a copy to info@ceta.org.) 

     In any group—forming or established—some members take a more active role than others. For that reason we do not try to single out which members led the effort to start the foundation 26 years ago, but industry members and scholarship winners implicitly thank them for their diligence and foresight.

     Each successive group of trustees would acknowledge that they both stand on the shoulders and build on the work of all who preceded them in the role. In fact, some trustees have particularly deep knowledge of the foundation because they have served more than one term.

     Current trustees are Jim O’Connell, president of Pacific Bay Equipment in Modesto, CA; Gary Scott, president of Alkota Cleaning Systems Inc. in Alcester, SD; Theresa Rasmussen with Royce Industries L.C. in West Jordan, UT; Russ Hess, the regional manager (Northeast USA and Eastern Canada) at Alkota; and Dennis Black at McHenry PCS in Frederick, MD.  O’Connell chairs the group, Scott serves as treasurer, and Rasmussen is secretary.

     As the observation from Black indicates, the view the foundation takes is broad in scope. Scholarships can be awarded for any plan of study.

     “We hope to attract some of these scholarship recipients to our industry,” says Scott. “If not, it helps members and their employees afford advanced education for their children.”

     Scott is philosophical about the benefits that accrue from scholarship awards. “If [recipients] are not a match back to the industry, then ‘a rising tide raises all boats,’ and the scholarships have helped members and society as a whole.”

     In two years of service as treasurer of the foundation, Scott has aided in management, including strategic planning. And, of course, he has worked to solicit donations to finance future scholarships.

     Scott explains his three-part vision for the foundation. The first part is to help finance advanced educational opportunities for the children and grandchildren of CETA members and their employees. The second is to expand continuing education opportunities to the members of the industry and their employees. And the third part is to build an endowment fund to make certain the foundation is well-funded in the future.

     “The most interesting part of service to the foundation is seeing the talent of the young people that we help to educate,” says Scott. “These young people are the future of our industry, our country, and our world.”

     Moreover, Scott points to how gratifying it is to see the talent in younger generations. Being a trustee of the foundation gives those who serve a close-up view of plenty of good things happening. (And therein is a hint that CETA members ought to con-sider serving: It’s an uplifting endeavor.)

Clarity of Purpose

     The core that runs through each successive group of foundation trustees is clarity of purpose. O’Connell reckons that it carries over from the collegial outlook of CETA members.

     “It never ceases to amaze me that we have many diverse individuals serving on our boards from competing brands whose only goal, once they become involved with CETA, is to keep moving our industry forward,” says O’Connell, “without regard to brands or companies.”

     O’Connell has served for one year as a foundation trustee (as president). He has also served as a member of the CETA board of directors in various positions, including president. 

     Service is a multi-dimensional activity. “We promote the CETA organization as well as the foundation through networking with other like-minded individuals and companies,” says O’Connell. 

     The logistics of meetings take more than one form. “We have three to four face-to-face meetings a year and monthly conference calls where we have developed our strategic plan for the foundation for the next five years,” says O’Connell.

     “We also meet regularly with the CETA board of directors to make sure we are all updated on what each group can do to help the other further promote our industry,” explains O’Connell. 

     A high priority for the foundation is an endowment fund. “Our ultimate vision is to have the CETA Scholarship Foundation be self-funding by setting up an endowment found that will keep the foundation viable for years to come,” says O’Connell. “We have many generous donors who year after year continue to support the organization.”

     But endowments add certainty to continuity, and endowments are what foundations aim to build to better serve. “We have developed our strategic plan [with the endowment] goal in mind and hope to attain our goal within the next five to seven years,” says O’Connell. That’s very important.

     Just as important is ongoing fulfilment of the purpose of the scholar-ship foundation. “We want the CETA members to utilize the program to help their employees and their families offset some of the cost of tuition and continuing education,” says O’Connell.”

     Some 10 years ago, Hess served a four-year term as a foundation trustee. Now, he serves anew. “I began again this year,” he says. 

     From Hess’s perspective, the role of a trustee fits together well with all he does in his professional life. “Personally, I enjoy and benefit from working with persons from all facets of our industry toward a common goal, providing scholarships,” he explains.

     “My vision [for the foundation] is two-fold,” says Hess. “First is to achieve an endowment at the level that scholarships will be perpetually self-funded. Second is to expand the scholarship opportunity to include technical and other training for specific needs within the member companies of CETA.”

     We hope that readers taking in some of the experiences and views of the cur-rent trustees of the CETA Scholarship Foundation may have become sufficiently intrigued to consider a term of service. What does service require?

     “Service entails attending meetings that involve planning and management of the scholarship process,” says Hess. “Additionally, we plan and execute fundraisers and solicit donations to sponsor scholarships and build the endowment fund.”

     Does that sound a bit different than the routine of professional life? It is. Still, never underestimate the way that taking part in a new or different endeavor can sharpen thinking, augment expertise, and spur creativity. 

     Living is in the doing.

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