When Cody Buchenauer was growing up, the Wilmot Family Resource Centre always seemed to play a role in the background.
He went to the centre’s day care. Later, his minor hockey team helped the centre’s Christmas hamper drive.
“It’s been an incredible opportunity to give back to the community I grew up in,” says Buchenauer, a senior tax accountant at EY. “But it is also an opportunity for me to take the skills I use in my every-day work and share them with a charitable cause.”
Capacity Canada has been working with EY Waterloo Region for several months to pair up employees with local charitable non-profits that have board vacancies to fill. About a dozen matches are in place or underway.
“At the end of the day, it encourages our staff to get out and experience things they might not otherwise do,” says Tim Rollins, tax services partner at EY.
A long-time board member himself — including roles with St. Mary’s General Hospital in Kitchener and Junior Achievement of the Waterloo Region — Rollins works with Moira Taylor and Jo-Anne Gibson to promote MatchBoard at EY Waterloo Region. Taylor and Gibson are executives-in-residence (EIRs) with Capacity Canada.
“What I have found very rewarding since I have been involved in the community is you meet people who think differently and have different perspectives,” Rollins says. “This really helps you grow as an individual.”
The program with EY Waterloo Region is an offshoot of the flagship MatchBoard program involving Capacity Canada and Manulife at Manulife’s offices in Waterloo Region and Toronto. Since its start in 2011, MatchBoard has made about 112 matches at Manulife.
Buchenauer joined the Wilmot Family Resource Centre in December 2016, not long after EY colleague Dylan Corey had his first meeting as a member of the board overseeing the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony.
“My brother is a huge symphony fan,” says Corey, an EY manager specializing in the tech sector. “He had always talked about it, and that kind of pushed me to learn more.
“One of the things that surprised me most when I had one of my first meetings is how diverse the board is. Just being involved with this wide range of people, who have this common interest in the symphony, is pretty exciting. I didn’t know what to expect, but they are all very welcoming.”
Capacity’s EIRs do a lot of background work to organize matches.
On one side of the process, they create a list of the organizations that have board vacancies to fill, and the skills those organizations need. On the other, they interview candidate volunteers to find out their community and professional interests.
Then the matching starts.
Taylor, Gibson and other EIRs involved in MatchBoard with EY Waterloo Region and Manulife provide after-care for the matches, as new recruits find their footing in the organizations they have just joined.
Friends from high school, Corey and Buchenauer bring accounting strengths to their respective boards.
But it’s not a one-sided arrangement. The feedback from the MatchBoard program at Manulife is that board volunteers gain deeper awareness of challenging social issues. They broaden their contacts, and they learn.
“It’s an awesome opportunity to get involved in the community, expand your network and continue to develop skills you might not develop in your work life, specifically around governance and oversight,” Buchenauer says.
MatchBoard saves a lot of time for employees who want to join a board but are stumped about where to start, Corey and Buchenauer say.
“People don’t know what opportunities are out there, and it’s amazing to see the list Moira had of all the agencies looking for help,” Corey says. “It’s so easy to get involved.
“The type of role that works for you? It will be out there.”