Friday, November 20, 2020
Cristina Cabrera Jarro
MIAMI | One of the things that encouraged certified public accountant Craig Armstrong to join Hancock Askew & Co. was the firm’s commitment to the community.
“With the firm, we have the privilege to sit on boards, but there is something to be said about being humble, and humility, and going out and just serving,” said Armstrong, who is also a member of the audit and finance committee of the board of directors of Catholic Charities.
In addition to promoting annual days of service, the firm follows "29 fundamentals" or core values, referred to as The Hancock Askew Way, which encourage employees to put others first, honor commitments, be lifelong learners, make a difference, and “bring it” every day.
A volunteer team from the firm certainly “brought it” Nov. 5, 2020, when they spent their day of service at Catholic Charities' Notre Dame Child Development Center in Little Haiti.
“Just from my involvement with Catholic Charities, I know that there are always so many needs. Peter (Routsis-Arroyo), was the first person I called to say that we have bodies, and we’re willing and able,” said Armstrong.
Routsis-Arroyo, the CEO of Catholic Charities, welcomed the help, and directed them to the daycare. Located behind Notre Dame d’Haiti Mission, and housed on the ground floor of what used to be Notre Dame Academy for girls, the area is undergoing modifications to its entrances.
“We used to have children and parents coming through the front door, but due to COVID and the need for social distancing, we needed more space,” said Dihadenys Chavez, regional director at Notre Dame daycare.
To accommodate that need, administrators decided to open the back entrance of the school, which was being used for storage and delivery drop-offs. The area needed cleaning and maintenance.
“It’s the first impression when parents come, and we would really like for them to see that we have a nice place for the children. Being able to walk into a school, and have a nice, appealing, welcoming kind of entrance is so important. For a lot of us, it’s easy to take for granted, but it’s meaningful,” said Chavez.
During the summer, employees at Notre Dame daycare began sorting, cleaning and painting. The volunteers from Hancock Askew contributed to the work by planting a garden at the back entrance. They also removed old paint from the exterior walls and applied a new, vibrant yellow coat. Volunteers also cleaned and painted playground equipment.
Anthony Perez-Florido, an accountant at the firm and alumnus of Belen Jesuit Preparatory School in Miami, said he was reminded of a Belen Youth Mission in the Dominican Republic that he participated in as a student. The group helped build a bridge in a small rural village that was prone to severe flooding.
“I’ve had a lot of experience in digging and hard labor,” said Perez-Florido, who blistered his hands digging through the arid, rocky grounds of Notre Dame’s daycare to prepare the garden.
“It feels good, though,” he added. “Sometimes we’re indoors all the time working in offices and we forget about how it is out here, and how nice it is to help the less fortunate.”
Adrian Fresnedo, an auditor at the firm and an alumnus of Miami's Christopher Columbus High School, said employees at Hancock and Askew break the stereotypes of paper-pushing and numbers-crunching accountants and auditors.
“We play trivia — Anthony provides us with the sports portion — and then we do things like this where we come out and help the community,” said Fresnedo.
He said Little Haiti is often overlooked by the South Florida community. He likes venturing into the area to visit the cultural center and eat at the restaurants.
“I felt like it was going to be a nice experience coming out and giving back to Little Haiti,” said Fresnedo, who spent the volunteer day moving plants to the new garden area, and removing old paint from the exterior of the Notre Dame daycare.
“By making the neighborhood look better, this is a nice way of giving the people of Haiti a nice welcome,” he added.