Posts filed under 'Community Service'

MAcc Gives Back

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Every year, the students in the MAcc program participate in something called “MAcc Gives Back.” This event takes place on a Friday in the spring when MAcc students don’t have class. This year, students were split into 8 groups, and each group was assigned a specific volunteer site to perform volunteer work at for the afternoon. In addition to students from the MAcc program, various faculty and staff in Fisher performed volunteer work with us. Each group also had one or two professional members from accounting firms in Columbus assist with volunteering. All the volunteers met at Fisher prior to volunteering to eat breakfast and socialize and then everyone went their separate ways to their specific volunteer sites.

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My group went to COSI, the science museum in downtown Columbus. Our group helped the grounds crew at the museum by mulching several locations in front of the building. Although it was only about 40 degrees and windy, I still had a blast spending time with the other people at my volunteer site. I thought it was really great that Professor Arya, the director of the MAcc program, and Rebecca Zurek, one of the admission directors for the MAcc program, volunteered at COSI with us. We also had two accounting professionals in our group so it was nice getting to chat with them about their careers. I think MAcc Gives Back is a great example of the rewarding and fun opportunities in which students in the MAcc Program are able to participate.


VITA

Something I really enjoyed this year was volunteering for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. This program exists in cities throughout the country, and this was my first time ever volunteering with this program. We had the opportunity to file federal and state tax returns for local residents in the Columbus area so they were able to receive the maximum amount of their refunds at no cost. About 60 students volunteered, many of which were fellow MAcc students. The rest were undergraduate students at the Fisher College of Business. Therefore, this was a great opportunity to meet more students at Ohio State as well as get to know other students in my MAcc class better.

Some of the VITA volunteers

Some of the VITA volunteers

Since I will be starting a career in tax after graduation, I was given the opportunity to be a VITA site manager. This was a great leadership opportunity and was very educational for me because I was able to help others work through issues they came across while preparing tax returns. It was rewarding getting to actually interact with the people we were helping and know that we were saving local Columbus residents a great deal of money by preparing their tax returns for free. It was also satisfying to see that we obtained thousands of dollars in refunds for residents each volunteer session. I would highly recommend that future MAcc students (or undergraduate students), whether they plan to work in tax or not, volunteer for the VITA program!

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FETCH!

 

One great thing about being in the MAcc program is that we have so many amazing opportunities to do community service and help others using our own knowledge. One community service event we do every year is helping young students learn more about how to manage their budgets. It is called FETCH!

FETCH! stands for Financial Education Teaches Children Healthy Habits. It is offered through The Ohio Society of Certified Public Accountants. It is a fun, interactive board game that teaches children in 5th and 6th grade about the importance of budgeting, saving and spending. I am very lucky to take part in the program this year.

We went to an elementary school near German Village. Students were very excited about the game and were very energetic. We spent some time to explain the rules and then the game started! We let them make their own decisions on how to spend their money first, and then we had little discussions. Volunteers, like me, led the discussions and helped students come up with strategies on how to avoid the future risk. It was so much fun teaching them how to make investments but at the same time save them some money in case of an emergency. I really enjoyed taking a break from all the group assignments and midterms. I love talking to them about what accountants do and who they are. It was a great experience!

Students are trying to make decisions on how to spend their money.

Students are trying to make decisions on how to spend their money.

 

Stephanie Lewis, MAcc Tax Professor, is leading a discussion.

Stephanie Lewis, MAcc Tax Professor, is leading a discussion.

 

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The winning team and the volunteers!

 


Fisher Impact Day

After months of waking up early for accounting classes and staying up late studying, what do Fisher students do with a day off? Wake up even earlier than usual to volunteer for Impact Day!

Fisher Impact Day gives students and staff the option of spending their Veterans Day holiday volunteering with local non-profit organizations – a chance that a pretty amazing number of students jumped at, given this was the first year. After meeting at the school for registration, shuttles took us to various locations around the city for our volunteer placements. I ended up at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore East, breaking down and removing old wall shelving units and preparing the 2x4s for resale. So not only did I get to do some community service, I got to do so while making liberal use a sledgehammer – always a plus.

After a few hours we cleaned up and headed back to Fisher, where MAcc volunteers were treated to a delicious Chinese lunch while we discussed our various projects. Apparently one of the assignments was at a rabbit rescue and consisted of playing with rabbits all day… Something to keep in mind for next year.

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Fisher Impact Day

On Nov. 11th, I participated in a volunteer activity held by Fisher: Fisher Impact Day.

My friends and I arrived at Fisher Hall at 8:30 a.m. It was cold in the morning but I found many people already arrived, with immense zeal. After I signed in, we went to Mason Hall for breakfast: doughnuts and coffee were provided.

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At 9:00 a.m. we went outside Mason Hall for Kick-off featuring the OSU Color Guard. From the speech, I knew it was the first time that Fisher held Fisher Impact Day. It was an honor to take part in the first Fisher Impact Day! But I really hope speakers could make their speech shorter as it was so cold standing outside.

Because my friends and I signed up for an off-campus location, we then got on bus and headed to our destination: Harmon Kitchen. After a brief welcome, the leader told us that Harmon Kitchen was set up for providing people who need food. To my surprise, they also provide food to their pets. The leader explained that because pets are these people’s families and friends, they deserved to be treated well. It was really thoughtful. We were assigned for different work: 6 of our group members worked in the kitchen and my friends and I (4 people) helped to pack tableware.

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There were a set of requirements on packing tableware. For example, the knife must to the left, the fork must be above the knife and the spoon must be on the top. There were also requirements on napkins, too. Because I was not good at folding napkins, we followed the leader’s suggestion and decided that I place the tableware while my friend folded the napkins. As time passed by, we worked faster and better. Look at what we packed, they looked nice, right?

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Time flied by fast. At 12:30pm, the bus picked us up and back to Fisher. Although I was hungry and tired, I felt a sense of satisfaction and achievement. My friends were also excited about our Fisher Impact Day. In my opinion, Fisher Impact Day provided an opportunity for us to do something meaningful for society, gain a sense of responsibility, and meet different people.

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Fisher Impact Day: Our Lady of Guadalupe Center

Fisher faculty and students with volunteers and staff of the Guadalupe Center.

Fisher faculty and students with volunteers and staff of the Guadalupe Center.

“There are green peppers under here! Everyone loves these!” I could see the joy on Megan’s face as she lifted up the last box of cucumbers to reveal the green peppers beneath. She paused to say something in Spanish to the two other regular volunteers. I smiled because everyone else was so happy, but I was also a little surprised to see such excitement over a vegetable. I can’t say that I’ve ever been excited to see a vegetable, but that is probably because I have always had enough to eat. For those that come to the Our Lady of Guadalupe Center, hunger is something that is all too familiar.

Megan is a senior Spanish major at The Ohio State University and regularly volunteers with the Our Lady of Guadalupe Center. She did the training for our work at the center on Fisher Impact Day. November 11th was Fisher’s very first Fisher Impact Day, and hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and staff, volunteered at non-profit organizations around Columbus. As the Chair of Fisher Board Fellows, I was asked to sit on the committee and help recruit organizations to participate. Some of Fisher Board Fellows’ partner organizations that participated were: Catholic Social Services, Ronald McDonald House, Local Matters, Mid-Ohio Foodbank, LifeCare Alliance, and the Columbus Zoo. In addition to these organizations, we had students helping out with the Red Cross and Goodwill, as well as students who made blankets for foster children, and students who helped create packages of food with The Pack Shack. I chose to volunteer with the Guadalupe Center because it is run by Catholic Social Services, which is the board I currently sit on as a fellow.

At the Guadalupe Center, myself and two other Fisher volunteers helped sort through and bag produce. While we worked, Megan taught us what each vegetable and fruit was in Spanish, and she explained to us how the center functioned. As a business student, I was impressed by the organization and efficiency of the center. Clients called in to make an appointment, and then each family was allotted a certain number of playing cards (dependent on the number of family members and the individual needs of each family), and each card was worth one point. Families were able to spend their points on whatever food they wanted, but produce didn’t cost any points – everyone got fresh fruit and vegetables. Volunteers were on-hand to help push shopping carts and keep the center organized and everything running smoothly.

For me, the green pepper moment was the most memorable of the day, because the volunteers were so genuinely excited. It showed how much the volunteers and staff at the Guadalupe Center care about those they serve. Their kindness and their dedication are invaluable because the clients at the Guadalupe Center come at their most vulnerable and in need of help. Compassion and respect are two of Catholic Social Services’ core values, and these values permeated throughout our entire volunteer experience.

Even though I was a Fisher Impact Day committee member and have been present through each step of the planning process, I am still impressed by how well it went, and by what a wonderful experience students had. I truly hope that Fisher Impact Day continues, and I hope the committee continues to partner with Fisher Board Fellows. Giving back to the community is so important for students, but it is especially important for business students. We spend our days in class learning about shareholders equity and market share and profit margins, but in the real world, where people are hungry and struggling to make it through the next day, those things don’t really matter all that much. Sometimes what matters most is a green pepper. And sometimes we need a reminder of that.


Round #2: The Good, The Bad, and The Awesome

They told us second year would be easy. They told us that the workload would be lighter and the classes much less difficult. They said we would learn how to balance grad school with a social life, and they promised we would have more free time. They lied.

At this stage of the game, survival feels like winning. But I will do all the things, and I will do them to the best of my ability, even if it means I won’t be sleeping much. There may be days when I don’t eat until dinner, and days I spend twelve straight hours in Gerlach. There may be times when I clean my apartment at 9:30pm on a Sunday night, because it’s the only free time I have. But there are also days when, as a Fisher Board Fellow, I get to go to board meetings and learn about how a non-profit organization is run. Those days are my shining star of hope in the chaos that is my life.

I wrote a lot last year about my first year experiences with Fisher Board Fellows. Most of last year was spent preparing for this year, because this year, I am actually serving on the board of Catholic Social Services. And I love it. I love it even more than I thought I would. I cannot tell you how much fun I am having. Although my life is a zoo, no matter how busy I am, the board meetings I attend are always the best part of my day.

Since April, I have been to a strategic retreat, Breakfast with the Bishop fundraising event, several full board meetings, and numerous external relations committee meetings. Every meeting I go to is a new learning experience, and I even feel like I’m starting to contribute to the team. Another board member and our CEO complimented me on my marketing and advertising insights at our last meeting. I’m sure Dr. Matta would be proud of me.

Over the last several months, I have been able to learn about what it takes to run a non-profit organization. I have learned about the strategic and branding and financial concerns of Catholic Social Services, and I have learned much about leadership from the CEO, Rachel Lustig. Catholic Social Services is going through some big changes, and I have been lucky enough to be present and to learn about these strategic changes and processes over the summer. I’m actually seeing the concepts we learned in class last year be implemented in a real business situation, and the experience has been invaluable for me.

Overall, this term has been challenging and overwhelming, but it has also been weirdly wonderful. If I survive and make it to fall break, I’ll let you know how the rest of my year and experiences as a board fellow go!


Board Announcements!

Last week, the first year Fisher Board Fellows had their board training session. We learned about the fundamentals of non-profit work and serving on a board from Janie Levine Daniel, a former board fellow herself, and we also learned about non-profit accounting from Brian Mittendorf. The session, combined with the Bridges To The Boardroom luncheons over the last few terms, have helped the first year fellows become more comfortable with the board process and get a better idea of what to expect when we begin serving on our boards.

After the training was over, our board assignments for next year were finally announced. I will be serving on the board of Catholic Social Services, which I am thrilled about! They were my first choice board, and I’m already doing some pro bono marketing work with them, which will be a good way to learn more about the organization and its needs before I begin my board project.

Each of the boards is different in terms of how often they meet, and when they want their fellows to start. Some fellows begin attending board sessions over the summer, and some don’t start until the fall. Some boards meet once a month, and others only quarterly. Because of these differences, the second year FBF leadership team has organized a banquet for the first year fellows and representatives from their boards to meet before the end of the school year. This way, everyone has at least touched base with their board before leaving for summer internships.

My first meeting with the Catholic Social Services board will be next week, and I’m really excited to meet everyone on my board. This meeting will be a little different than most, as the Bishop will be inducting new members onto the board. It’s kind of a new beginning, in a way, and they felt it would be a good time for me to start, along with the new full-time members. I will also be attending a strategic planning retreat next Saturday, which will be run by Professor Rucci, who has been working with the organization and helping it come up with a new strategy over the past year. I’ve never been on any kind of professional retreat, so I’m interested to see what one is like. I can’t wait to start working with my board, and I’m very excited to see what kind of projects they need help with!

 

 

 


The Homestretch

As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs the Fisher MAcc program is broken up into four 7 week terms.  With the first three terms already done and over with, we have reached the homestretch.  It’s hard to believe that there is already less than seven weeks left in the MAcc until we graduate.  With that being said, there is still plenty of things going on that I am looking forward to this final term:

  • MAcc Field Day: The MAcc Council and MAcc Social Chair have been working hard to plan a field day for the MAcc program.  With winter coming to an end and the weather warming up, it’ll be nice to spend an afternoon in the park doing some field day activities.  This will be a great chance to spend some more time with the other students before we all go our separate ways.
  • March MAcc-ness: It’s that time of year again and College Basketball is taking over.  Clearly at Ohio State football is king, but everyone still loves March Madness.  Everyone enjoys filling out a bracket and seeing if they can get any upsets right or pick which team will be Cinderella.  Our program has set up a bracket online to compete against each other and find out who picked the best bracket.
  • MAcc Gives Back: MAcc Gives Back happens once a semester, so you may have read a blog about this event in the Fall.  Unfortunately I was unable to participate in the Fall.  This semester I am looking forward to being able to participate in this service event the MAcc program helps with.  MAcc Gives Back has multiple locations available to volunteer and I am excited to be able to be part of this service activity.

Nonprofit and Governmental Accounting

Our last session, Spring Session 2, is now underway, which means new classes for Fisher MAcc students! A popular elective for students this term is AMIS 7250: Nonprofit and Governmental Accounting, and it’s taught by Prof. Brian Mittendorf. So far in our accounting education, the focus has been on for-profit companies and learning about their financial reporting requirements, auditing, and taxation. Thus, many MAcc students were interested in learning about the nonprofit sector. Also, nonprofit and governmental accounting is 16-24% of the Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR) section of the CPA Exam (it’s on the minds of most MAcc students nowadays as some have begun studying for it).

The course makes you think about accounting in a new light. Not only does the terminology change when you are talking about nonprofits, but the way in which you think about profits and expenses shifts as well. Nonprofits do, in fact, make “profits!” What differentiates them from for-profit companies is that nonprofits don’t have owners or shareholders. The “owner” of the organization is its mission, and all profits are reinvested to carry out that mission.

I really like this elective course so far and am looking forward to see what else we learn. In addition to rounding out my accounting education, I will also be able to apply what we learn in this course as soon I will be volunteering as treasurer for a 501(c)(7) nonprofit and would love to undertake other roles in the nonprofit sector in the future.

We watched the TED talk below for class, which proposes that that the way we evaluate charities (and their spending habits) is flawed. Enjoy!

 


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