Helping Out: A caterer fiunds what goes around comes around

Monday, May 3, 2010

Josh Carin, founder and chief executive of Geppetto Catering in Riverdale.

Charitable giving highlights: Donated food to Muscular Dystrophy Association; donated food to workers of Rebuilding Together of Washington, D.C., which provides free home repairs for low-income homeowners; donated a refrigerated truck for the week and food for the workers of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition during their project.

Personal: Lives in Potomac with wife and two kids.

It was the first year of my business and we were booked to cater for one of our customers at a philanthropic event. Because it was a charity, they asked if we could donate the food we had planned to cater. It was worth $300 and we had not been giving regularly because we were small, struggling and needed every penny.

It was tough but because they were a customer, I decided to reciprocate. It turns out that someone there from a university loved the food and decided to reach out to us.

It's been 12 years and that university has been using me ever since. We have gained millions of dollars in revenue by that one contribution.

What goes around comes around. I realized that it was a great way to get engaged in the community and also brand my organization. I quickly started to seek out relationships with nonprofits. We would give them dollars, free services or discounted services.

I feel that we have an obligation to give back. The bonus is that it actually does lead to relationships with people who think the same way you do. They want to support you because they understand that when they work with you, a portion of their money goes back into the community.

Still, one should not give because they feel they'll get something back. You give because it's the right thing to do--now more than ever. You give to an organization that you have an interest in and that you care about. I give to the areas of art, health care and workplace development.

-Interview with Vanessa Mizell

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